Established in 1985, the Allen B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year Award has honored noted individuals in the field. Previous honorees include WNBC-TV’s Bruce Beck, Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville, WCBS-TV anchor Kristine Johnson, WNBC-TV chief meteorologist Janice Huff, CBS Sports announcer Ian Eagle, WCBS Radio chopper 880 reporter Tom Kaminski, WABC-TV anchor/reporter Joe Torres, WWOR-TV anchor Brenda Blackmon and WABC-TV Reporter N.J. Burkett.
Read the introduction remarks from Merrill Brown, Director of the School of Communication and Media.
“This is an exciting day at Montclair State, an important moment in the development of the School of Communication and Media and an extraordinarily challenging point in time for journalism. Our school now with 800 majors across 10 programs including a 2 year old rapidly growing journalism major will move into our new building across the campus early next semester.
That’s the context in which we’re very pleased to be honoring Lester Holt this morning with the Alan B. Dumont Broadcaster of the Year award. The award is named for Dumont who helped develop the cathode ray tube, manufactured and sold the first significant commercial TV set and later founded the first licensed network 70 years ago.
Over those 7 decades television news has come a long long way. It may be fair to say that never in that history of the medium has there been a more impassioned debate about the role of television than we’re witnessing now in the aftermath of the election of President Elect Donald J Trump. No one has been immune from that debate and criticism in broadcast and cable news including our honoree today Lester Holt who moderated the first presidential debate just nine weeks ago and like all debate moderators had his performance scrutinized by the public, politicians and the media.
That scrutiny of the performance of television networks and their journalists continues just as intensely today with the President elect taking a more aggressive stance against the press than any President elect in the nation’s history, routinely threatening newspaper owners, broadcasters and journalists.
That’s a circumstance that will test journalism, those who cover national affairs and in particular national television networks whose influence in many ways was both unanticipated and very significant in the last campaign. In that context, it is extraordinarily reassuring to know that a man of NBC Anchor Lester Holt’s experience, judgment and integrity will continue to be one of the most important voices going forward as we enter a presidential era certain to be unlike any period before it in terms of the relationship of the government and the press.
We honor Lester Holt today in that context. His TV legacy goes back to 1981 when he began a 19 year career as a reporter and anchor at CBS stations. He joined NBC and MSNBC in 2000 and became a correspondent, Weekend Today co-anchor, NBC Nights weekend anchor, since 2011 a Dateline anchor and since June 2015 the Anchor of NBC Nightly News, for many years the ratings leader. It is important to remember that the 3 broadcast network nightly newscasts reach 25 MILLION people a night, audience numbers that dwarf cable even if cable exerts powerful influence in the world of public affairs.
It is for his work in the studio, in covering stories in our communities, and in dealing with challenging circumstances around the world that we honor Lester Holt today. We honor him for that body of work. But we also salute today the idea that Lester Holt’s approach to every day he practices his craft reminds us that serious journalism must always matter, that fairness, standards, verification, aggressive reporting and a steadfast commitment to the First Amendment are critical to our democratic future, that television journalism remains an important part of our national news diet, and that we must insist that national media bring us diverse voices.
For his nightly reassuring and steadfast presence in our lives we honor Lester Holt today. Ladies and Gentlemen Lester Holt.”
Montclair State | New Jersey