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RTDNF Unveils 2020 First Amendment Award Honorees


The Radio Television Digital News Foundation has announced the winners of the 30th annual First Amendment Awards. The distinguished group of honorees represent the valuable role journalists play in local and national media to practice the First Amendment. A total of 7 awards will be given in 2020 and the honorees will join 115 previous winners who championed a vital part of our democracy. 

The 2020 honorees are:

  • Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award – David Muir, ABC News

  1. This award is presented to a radio or television journalist or news executive who has made a major contribution to the protection of First Amendment freedoms. It is named for the late Broadcasting & Cable senior correspondent, Leonard Zeidenberg.
  2. A past RTDNF Scholarship Recipient, ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir delivers exceptional journalism with his own dispatches from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Beirut, Mogadishu and Tahrir Square among countless other global hotspots. Muir has been recognized with numerous Edward R. Murrow Awards.

  • First Amendment Award – “60 Minutes” produced by CBS News

  1. This award honors an outstanding individual or organization which champions the First Amendment and press freedoms.
  2. Now in the 52nd season, 60 Minutes is an iconic journalism program which holds the powerful accountable and sheds light on important subjects.

  • First Amendment Service Award – Robert (Bob) Horner, NBC News

  1. This award honors professionals in local or network news who work in an off-air, management, largely behind-the-scenes capacity.
  2. The creator of NBC News Channel, the feed service for local NBC affiliates and NBC’s international partners, Bob Horner served as President for 27 years and made it possible for countless stories to be shared across the U.S. and the world.

  • First Amendment Leadership Award – Barbara Maushard, Hearst Television

  1. This award is presented to a business, government or other leader who has made a significant contribution to the protection of the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
  2. As Senior Vice President, News, Barbara Maushard has plotted the course for one of America’s most respected local media companies through responsible and impactful journalism.

  • First Amendment Clarity Award – Lori Montenegro, Telemundo

  1. This award recognizes a journalist or group of journalists who go to extraordinary lengths to provide meaning and context to complicated news stories or issues of extreme public importance.
  2. A fixture in Washington, D.C. since the early 1990’s, Lori Montenegro is the Washington Bureau Chief for Telemundo and has spent her career reporting on issues in our nation’s capital.

  • First Amendment Defender Award – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

  1. This award is presented to an individual or organization who takes a public stand in support of press freedom.
  2. At a time when press freedoms and access have been under attack, Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut has stood tall for the rights of journalists to do their jobs and inform the public.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Steve Andrews, WFLA-TV
    1. The Senior Investigative Reporter at WFLA in Tampa, FL, Steve Andrews has spent the last 35 years uncovering critical stories which has resulted in laws being changed.

“As the RTDNF Board of Trustees discussed the candidates, there was overwhelming support for the accomplishments and the impact our 2020 honorees have made to journalism,” stated RTDNF chairman and vice president of local content development for Nexstar Broadcasting Jerry Walsh. “This year’s honorees are a mix of local and network journalists that provide illuminating reporting, a respected national news program which holds the powerful accountable and a visionary who defends the public’s right to know.”
Each honoree will be awarded at the First Amendment Awards Dinner & Show on March 5, 2020 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. Sponsorships and tickets are available now at The event draws some 500 of the biggest names in broadcast and digital journalism. Additional information on the winners will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Every day journalists and news professionals are working hard to keep the public’s trust through truthful reporting, more transparency and responsible journalism that often serves as a catalyst for positive change,” said Dan Shelley, executive director of RTDNA/RTDNF. “The First Amendment Awards allow us to honor the efforts of all journalism professionals, and shine a light on those companies, individuals and political figures who publicly champion journalism and journalists as essential to democracy.”

In addition to recognizing responsible journalism, the First Amendment Awards Dinner & Show is the Foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser, enabling the Foundation to ensure the broadcast and digital news profession remains a critical part of our nation’s free press for generations to come and supporting scholarships for journalism students.

RTDNF, a 501(c)3 educational foundation, was created to help RTDNA members embody and uphold the standards of ethical journalism and promote leadership in the newsroom. The Foundation works for an America in which the press is able to hold the powerful to account, shine a light on corruption and act as a catalyst for positive change in local communities without denial of access, undue restriction, or fear of attack. We train and equip local journalists and journalism students to know their rights and report seek and report truth ethically – upholding your right to know.

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