Barbara Walters Receives CUNY J-School's Lifetime Achievement Award

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Television journalist Barbara Walters, one of the media world’s preeminent on-air interviewers and talk-show hosts, was the recipient of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s second lifetime achievement honors at an awards dinner on Tuesday, May 12 at The Times Center in New York. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the award. ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas served as emcee. [See clip from ABC’s Channel 7 Eyewitness News; hear Barbara Walters talk about her award on The View.]

The CUNY J-School’s second annual Awards for Excellence in Journalism grossed nearly $350,000, most of which will be used for student scholarships.

In addition to Walters, the event recognized alumni from the Class of 2008: Fritzie Andrade, who works for NBC’s local integrated media; Joshua Cinelli, a web editor for the New York Daily News; and Dana Oliver of the style section. Another 2008 graduate, Bloomberg News business reporter Cristina Alesci, received the first Frederic Wiegold Award, named for a senior editor at Bloomberg Markets magazine who passed away last year.

In her remarks upon accepting her award, Walters referred to the challenges facing journalists today: “Yes, newspapers are in trouble. Yes, our kids are getting their news from the Internet while we, the parents, are coping with Blackberrys and web sites and blogs and bleebs and blabs and iPhones and iPods, not to mention Google and Wikipedia and Twitter – and God help me, even I have been known to tweet.”

But she also said we are entering a new golden age of journalism: “We now have the ability to instantly communicate the whole world, to entertain, to inform, to educate. We are entering a whole new astonishing way to present and receive news and if used correctly what a force for good. And what are the next opportunities? When will one of the students here tonight come up with a new and better way to tweet or Twitter or tell a story? Who will they be honoring 20 years from now?”

Walters began her career more than four decades ago as a writer for NBC’s Today Show. She went on to become the program’s first female co-host and to interview numerous world leaders and celebrities, including every U.S. president and first lady since Richard Nixon. Walters joined ABC News in 1976 and co-hosted the news magazine show 20/20 for 25 years. She remains an active contributor to the network through her prime time specials and work as co-executive producer and co-host of the popular daytime talk show, The View. She is also the author of a best-selling autobiography, Audition: A Memoir.

Co-chairs for the event were Mercedes and Sid R. Bass; Barry Diller, chairman & CEO of IAC; Evelyn and Leonard A. Lauder of the Estee Lauder Companies; Catie and Donald B. Marron; Peter G. Peterson, founder and chairman of Peter G. Peterson Foundation; David Westin, president of ABC News; Maureen White and Steven Rattner; and Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News and US News & World Report.

The media sponsors included Bloomberg L.P., Dow Jones & Co., The Hearst Corporation, The McGraw-Hill Companies, News Corporation, The New York Observer, The New York Times Company, and Time Inc.