CPJ will honor Tom Brokaw, one of the most trusted and respected figures in broadcast journalism, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award given for a lifetime of distinguished achievement in the cause of press freedom. The Burton Benjamin Award is named for the late CBS News senior producer and former CPJ chairman, who died in 1988.
Brokaw stepped down as the anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News" on December 1, 2004, after 21 years on the broadcast. Brokaw continues to work with NBC News, reporting and producing documentaries and providing expertise during breaking news events. He is also a longtime CPJ supporter and joined the board of directors in 1993.
In June 2004, Tom Brokaw traveled to Iraq to cover the handover of power, reporting for five days for all NBC News programs. He reported from Normandy, France, during the D-Day 60th anniversary ceremonies that same month. On March 19, 2003, he was the first American news anchor to report that the war with Iraq had begun, and in April 2003, he had the first television interview with President Bush after the end of major combat was declared.
Brokaw secured the first exclusive U.S. one-on-one interview with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1987, earning him an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. He was the only anchor to report from the scene the night the Berlin Wall fell, and was the first American anchor to travel to Tibet to report on human-rights abuses and to conduct an interview with the Dalai Lama. In addition to "Nightly News," Brokaw's documentary reporting has been recognized with numerous awards, including two Peabody Awards and an Emmy.
"Tom Brokaw stands in the front rank of journalists in the last half century," Steiger said. "No one in my memory can top the combination of the insight and courage of his reporting, the authority of his anchoring, and the power of his writing. At the same time, he has always been ready to drop everything to help a fellow journalist, or to take a stand for press freedom. He is the absolute embodiment of what the Burton Benjamin Award seeks to honor."
Brokaw has covered every presidential election since 1968 and was NBC's White House correspondent during the Watergate scandal. In 1998, Brokaw became a bestselling author with the publication of The Greatest Generation. His fourth bestselling book, A Long Way from Home, a look at growing up in the American heartland, was released in November 2002.