This month I traveled to New York City with President Coleman to attend the Livingston Awards ceremony. Though not well known to the general public, the honor is seen as a sort of “pre-Pulitzer” by many in the media. The award, which is given for excellence in journalism for those 35 years old or under, is in its 31st year. Charles Eisendrath, the director of U-M’s Knight-Wallace Fellowships, also manages the awards program.
Although you might not recognize the Livingston Awards by name, you most certainly are familiar with previous winners: Tom Friedman, Ira Glass, Michele Norris, David Remnick and Christiane Amanpour, to name just a few.
When I walked into the room where the luncheon ceremony was held, I found myself working hard at not being overwhelmed by the media icons all around me. There was Tom Brokaw, 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft and David Brooks of the New York Times—all sitting at President Coleman’s table. I saw Charles Gibson talking with Anna Quindlen and the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta over in one corner. Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and columnist Ellen Goodman were nearby.
One person was missing from the crowd, though. I noticed it immediately, since he had been at every other Livingston Awards ceremony I’d attended. Famed broadcast journalist and U-M alumnus Mike Wallace was a founding judge of the Livingstons. He cared deeply about the program and its commitment to the best in young journalists.
At a time when the the media industry is undergoing dramatic change, and the world is sorely in need of courageous truth-telling , a dedication to the highest-quality journalism is critical. Longtime awards judge Charlie Gibson, in introducing the first of this year’s winners, explained the collective commitment to aspiring, talented journalists: “We want to encourage their work and very much want them to stay in the profession.”
This year’s winners? Inspiring. These dedicated young reporters covered how the Texas justice system went wrong in falsely imprisoning a man for the murder of his wife; the politics of redistricting; and a massacre in Jamaica involving a drug lord, the neighborhood believed to be his hiding place and the 74 people—mostly civilians—who were killed there. (Read more about this year’s winners and the awards program.)
See more photos from the Livingston Awards ceremony
on my Flickr feed
At the #LivingstonAwards for young journalIsts: Organizer Charles Eisendrath gave a shout out to one of the award founders Mike Wallace.
— Lisa Rudgers (@lisarudgers) June 6, 2012