The Radio and Television Correspondents Association (RTCA) has handed out its 2020 awards, foregoing the traditional dinner and speeches for a special web site featuring profiles of the recipients and their remote acceptance speeches, winners that include journalists from ABC, CNN, Fox and Westwood One.
Receiving the Joan S. Barone award for excellence in journalism was Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram. The award, named for the late CBS News executive, is for "excellence in congressional and political affairs reporting in Washington."
RTCA said Pergram's reporting "weaves a narrative which reveals what really goes on inside one of the most-powerful buildings in the world."
Pergram thanked his family, including pets, his teachers, coaches, administrators, professors, mentors, and news professionals who helped him get and stay on the air, including the "wonderful people behind the scenes." He said a special thanks to the late Peter Jennings, who he said he never met but "learns from daily."
James Longman received the David Bloom Award for "for excellence in enterprise, investigative or feature reporting." It is named after the late NBC News correspondent and anchor. RTCA said of the award: "[Longman's] "powerful storytelling shines through the connection he creates with individuals he interviews and his ability to get them to open up their lives to share with the world."
Longman thanked his team and shared the award with them because they shared the risks with him, including some "pretty testy times in Chechnya. That included, as a gay man, the moment in a prison cell when he came out to the head of the police force, a moment he said was unplanned.
He said he did not know Bloom, but praised his sincerity and the fact that he cared not only about the story, but about the people in it. "There is a big difference between sharing your opinion and showing your humanity." He said what is happening in Chechnya, the gay people being rounded up and tortured, some killed, "should haunt us all."
This year's Jerry Thompson Memorial Award, named after the late CNN photojournalists, stayed in the family. CNN Photojournalist Eddie Gross took home the honor. "Eddie embodies the ideals of the Jerry Thompson Award for his hard work, selfless demeanor, constant smile, and most importantly being a friend to all."
Gross, who worked with Thompson, called him a great and uplifting guy. He thanked his CNN colleagues, from reporters to engineers; RTCA, and his family. He said in a business with travel and long hours, having that support system was crucial. Gross said his most indelible memory from a 35-year career was bringing his 90-year-old grandfather to the White House to meet the first black president. "That was incredible," he said, and thanked all the CNN employees who helped make that happen. He said it was important to help out young people in the broadcast business, because he got such help.
Linda Kenyon, a congressional reporter most recently with Westwood One, took home this year's career achievement award for " significant accomplishments and contributions to broadcast coverage on Capitol Hill."
Kenyon said she thought she had to be dead to get a career achievement, but was corrected: That is for lifetime achievement awards, she joked. She said she had been sprayed by firehoses, pelted with glass bottles, and tear-gassed twice covering the recent protests in Washington.
She said Congress is the best beat because "You are leaning something every day,"
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