Encouraging serious journalism



Click here for previous winners of the Presidents Award. 
  • Wednesday, July 01, 2015 8:56 AM | Anonymous

    The ‘CBS Morning News’ Team Tries a New Approach and Captures the Press Club’s President’s Award for Impact On Media

    By Alex Ben Block

    CBS has been a leader in primetime, news and sports for decades, but it has been frustrated in efforts to compete in the morning against NBC’s “Today” show and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Since 1954, CBS has launched 10 breakfast time shows—and scrapped nine of them.

             The network has finally found the right eye opener with “CBS This Morning.” Since it went on the air in 2012 with a different mandate than “GMA” and “Today”—to present serious news using original storytelling, analysis and discussion—it has won over critics and seen its audience grow by over half a million viewers in the past year alone. Much of the credit goes to the on-camera team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, along with Executive Producer Chris Licht.

             “CBS This Morning” comes out of a tradition dating back to when CBS was the Tiffany Network, with a mandate to bring viewers the top stories of the past 24 hours told through reports, interviews and commentary. There isn’t even an Al Roker doing weather (instead, weather comes via local CBS affiliate meteorologists).

             “CBS This Morning” has significantly shrunk the ratings gap since Rose, King and O’Donnell took their seats around the circular desk with the eye symbol. More importantly, the program lives up to the best practices in contemporary journalism. “The news is back in the morning,” is a mantra for the show and the anchors.

             That is why the Los Angeles Press Club has chosen to honor Rose, King, O’Donnell and “CBS This Morning” with the 2015 President’s Award for Impact On Media. The prize recognizes the show for bringing integrity back to morning news.

             The show began taking shape when Licht was hired. He had previously served as executive producer of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.

             Licht said from the start he wanted to take an out of the box approach. There would be no cheering crowds on an outdoor plaza, no cooking segments and no comedic bits. While both “GMA” and “Today” tend to shift after its first segments to soft news, features and personality profiles, “CBS This Morning” keeps drilling down on the most important events, people and global game changers.

             Licht’s goal was to redefine the morning TV landscape with domestic and international reporting that was lively while still being serious, featuring interviews with leading figures in business, politics and entertainment.

             It is a collaborative effort with the three hosts. O’Donnell told the Washington Post in November 2014 that the producers pay attention to the anchors and care what they think.

    “That’s the beauty of our show,” O’Donnell said. “If we don’t want to do something, we say something, and actually they listen. We’ve turned down major celebrity interviews because we’re like, ‘What’s the story?’ We have to have a news peg. There has to be some value.”

              “The vision,” as Licht told the Daily Beast in July 2013, “was to dispense with a lot of the dross that had made morning shows morning shows—the live pop concerts, the centenarian birthdays, even the weatherman, and focus on what makes people turn on the TV in the first place. Instead, ‘CBS This Morning’ would find out what is going on in the world.”

             The casting of the anchors showed how serious CBS was about getting it right. Rose brought both instant star quality and a seal of journalistic integrity. He had hosted “CBS News Nightwatch” in the 1980s, worked with Bill Moyers at PBS and contributed to “60 Minutes,” but was best known for the thoughtful, often provocative interviews with top celebrities, politicians and business leaders he has conducted on public television since 1991. 

    One of his big coups for “CBS This Morning” was an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. When it won a Peabody Award, it was declared, “the biggest journalistic get of 2013.”

    King, known as Oprah Winfrey’s best friend and sometime business partner, also brought a strong background in news, talk and opinion. Among her credits was 18 years as a reporter and news anchor for WFSB in Hartford, Conn., as well as shows in recent years for the OWN Network and elsewhere.

    The last to join the team, more than six months after the show’s re-launch, was O’Donnell, who moved over from being CBS’s chief White House correspondent. She was named one of Washington’s 100 most powerful women by Washingtonian magazine. She is also an occasional guest host of “Meet The Press.”

             At a time when the chemistry among the stars of the two top-rated morning shows has occasionally turned toxic, the surprise on “CBS This Morning” is how successful the chemistry has been among this trio.

             “It’s great when you can be part of something that is turning the ship around,” O’Donnell told the Huffington Post.

             “You can’t put a price and you can’t put a formula on chemistry," added Licht. “If you put these three names on a piece of paper and say these people are going to connect with each other and thus the audience in a unique and successful way, they would laugh you out of the room. And I think that’s why it has actually been successful, because you couldn’t focus-group this.”

             The accolades and the decision to focus on hard news and serious matters has had another effect, one that might surprise people in the short-attention-span era: a climb in the ratings.

             From June 2014 until June 2015, “CBS This Morning” was the only two-hour daily morning show from a big three broadcast network to record ratings gains among the key demographic group of adults 25-to-54. “CBS This Morning” was up 29% in the demo. It also increased 17% among total viewers.

             Amidst the super competitive broadcast, cable and digital media landscape, “CBS This Morning” in one year added 560,000 viewers, closing the gap with NBC and ABC by 710,000 viewers. For the first time in generations, there’s less than 1 million viewers on average each day between first and third place.

             And, for the first time in a long time, there’s a place to get serious over that morning cup of coffee.

  • Monday, June 01, 2015 8:54 AM | Anonymous

    HOLLYWOOD, CA, March 23: Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, hosts of “CBS This Morning”, will be honored with the Los Angeles Press Club’s 2015 President’s Award for Impact on Media.

    Since the launch of the program in 2012, the charismatic anchor trio and their production team have brought serious news and original storytelling back to the morning television landscape, while increasing viewership and providing the day’s need-to-know headlines.

    "The CBS This Morning team proves that there is a craving for serious morning news along with that cup of java. The obvious chemistry among the three co-anchors greatly contributes to the excitement and charm of this show,” said LA Press Club Executive Director Diana Ljungaeus. “The President’s Award goes to three individuals who have helped bring integrity back to morning news and hence impressively impacted media. No one deserves this award more than this dynamic trio.”

    “We are honored to learn that our approach to creating a substantive, relevant morning television broadcast has garnered the attention and praise of such an esteemed organization as the LA Press Club,” said Chris Licht, Vice President of News Programming and Executive Producer of “CBS This Morning.”

    The Awards Gala will be held on Sunday, June 28, in the Chrystal Ballroom at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, downtown Los Angeles. It is a classy, upscale affair with the direct involvement and participation of some 550 influential journalists and media executives. These individuals represent companies such as Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, NBC4, KPCC, KNX, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, The Hollywood Reporter, People Magazine, Variety, Fox, and many other prominent organizations.

    On the same evening the LA Press Club will honor Charlie Hebdo with the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, presented by the slain journalist’s parents Judea and Ruth Pearl (and to be accepted by Charlie Hebdo's Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard and current lead cartoonist Luz). In addition, some of Southern California’s most notable reporters, editors, anchors, and bloggers will claim their winning plaques for best work of 2014.

    In recent years the LA Press Club have honored Michael Bloomberg, Matthew Winkler, Ann Curry, Maria Shriver, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Lesley Stahl, Anderson Cooper, Richard Engel, Bob Woodruff and Steve Lopez, to mention a few. Presenters have included a slew of TV and film personalities such as Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Bill Maher, Ron Perlman, Ed Asner, Charles Shaughnessy, Wendie Malick, Dan Lauria, Robert Forster, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dick Gregory.

    Proceeds from the Gala is the largest source of income for the Los Angeles Press Club, a 501(c) 3 that speaks for journalists across all media platforms.

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 7:53 PM | Anonymous



    Unlike his partner in the founding of Bloomberg News, Matthew Winkler is a native New Yorker, but he spent his college years and his early journalism career in Ohio.

    Last year, Winkler accompanied one of his three childrenundefinedLydia, his fellow Kenyon College graduateundefinedback to his professional journalism alma mater, Ohio’s Mount Vernon News. Here is his own job description, and how he got bitten by the newspaper bug: “I did everything. It was the first newspaper job I had outside of editing the college newspaper for two years. When I arrived, I was immediately covering police, courts, county government, sports and even did community feature stories.

    “There wasn’t any beat I wasn’t exposed to from the moment I started. It couldn’t have been more exhilarating for me. The way I thought about being a newspaperman is I get to ask all the questions I want and someone cuts me a check at the end of the week. What a great way to go through life.”

    Here it is, more than 30 years later. The Mount Vernon News is still published six days a week and distributed to 10,000 homes. It also has a website and a paywall.

    Winkler is now the editor-in-chief of an international Bloomberg staff number- ing nearly 2,000 journalists who also ask questions and get a check at the end of the weekundefinedin part thanks to Winkler. He is shar- ing the Los Angeles Press Club’s President’s Award for Impact on Media with Michael Bloomberg.

    Winkler’s own escape velocity took him back to the East Coast and New York, where he wrote for the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among others. In 1990, he and future mayor Bloomberg co-founded Bloomberg News.

    He has also served on the Committee to Protect Journalists board, the Council on For- eign Relations, the Economic Club of New York and the International Women’s Media Foundation boards, and has chaired the board of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Pro- gram at Columbia University.

    He’s written The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters and Editors. He also teamed up again with Bloomberg to write the former New York mayor’s autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg.

    Winkler has received many awards, including the 2007 Gerald Loeb Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Emmy lifetime achievement award for business and financial reporting.

    Bloomberg has expanded far beyond its original financial reportage mission, and its journalists’ work on an array of sub- jects, from sports to food and lifestyle top- ics, appears in more than 400 publications

    “The way I thought about being a newspaperman is I get to ask all the questions I want and someone cuts me a check at the end of the week. What a great way to go through life.”

    across 65 nations, as well as in magazines and newsletters, and on Bloomberg’s own 24-hour television and radio network.

    In short, Winkler has been instrumental in making Bloomberg make big newsundefinedquite a track record for a New Yorker who had to go to Ohio to begin to make it big in the Big Apple, and beyond. 

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 2:34 PM | Anonymous



    There isn’t a Mr. Associated Press, nor is there a Mr. UPI. But there is a Mr. Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, and the news service that bears his name is only one of the incarnations of a life that has rounded the bases of success in virtually every field that matters in the big stadium of American life. Bloomberg and Matthew Winkler, the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, are receiving the Los Angeles Press Club’s President’s Award for Impact on Media. Bloomberg was born on Valentine’s Day in 1942. His escape velocity from his middle-class home in his hometown of Medford, Mass., took him to Johns Hopkins University and then to Harvard for his MBA. He worked his way through school by parking cars and with student loans, which presumably he has paid off by now.

    He was a partner at Salomon Brothers by the age of 30, the founder of his own startup in a one-room office by age 40, a billionaire by age 50, mayor of New York by age 60, and a billion-dollar philanthropist by age 70.

    Still, for our purposes here, his most important career pivot was birthing Bloomberg News.

    It began as an information service for financial news sent to computer terminals of Bloomberg subscribers, but soon the medium also embraced the message. By 1990, Bloomberg News had agreed to the terms set forth by the Washington, D.C. journalists’ news accreditation committee to become a credentialed and fully fledged news service.

    Since then, Bloomberg News has gone from strength to strength, bucking the lamentable jobs trend in journalism by hanging out the “help wanted” sign for hundreds of journalists.

    Today, several hundred newspapers carry its content; tens of millions of TV sets and computers carry its television news content. Its duet with the Washington Post resulted in a joint news service meant to create a synergy of political and economic news.

    From there, Bloomberg News acquired television and radio stations, produced TV and radio news programs to air on them, crafted Bloomberg Television into a business news channel, and extended its reporting reach internationally with bureaus across Europe and Asia, in the fashion of the paper- and-ink newspaper empires of 40 years ago. Among other undertakings, it added BusinessWeek to its portfolio, renaming it Bloomberg Businessweek and reinvigorating the magazine that started publishing just one month before the stock market crash of 1929.

    As mayor, Bloomberg, perhaps feeling the need to compete with pioneering examples in Beverly Hills and the state of California, launched his own New York City smoking ban; it was part of a number of Bloomberg health initiatives that prompted Bloomberg to make fun of the mockery they earned in an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” It marked the end of his three terms as mayor, and he said he planned to be “fulfilling a life- long dream of enjoying a small soda on a nonsmoking beach.”

    In an interview with New York magazine, Bloomberg was asked about his journalist ambitions, and why his fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. “I have no idea,” Bloomberg said. “He said that he wasn’t going to get involved in it. What’s the point of owning it if you don’t? Certainly not to make money. If you wanna have fun, buy the New York Post.”

    So, would he buy it? No, he said. “I would try to upscale it, and that’s what would destroy it.”

    As for the print world, well, he told the magazine, “They are not good businesses. The media world is changing. Newsweek and U.S. News, two of the big newsweeklies nationwide, go out of print, and Time mag-azine’s thinner than it was before. There’s something changing. Whether it’s good or bad for democracy, whether it’s good or bad for the public, I don’t know, but it’s changing.”

    In the meantime, Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek have wound up positioned alongside big players at the busi- ness news table, competing with the likes of Dow Jones and Reuters. There was, in fact, a Mr. Reuter; in the years before the telegraph, he got a jump on the competition by sending news swiftly, via the feathered equivalent of the Internetundefinedcarrier pigeons.

    For Michael Bloomberg too, hopeundefinedlike its cousin, ambitionundefinedis metaphorically what Emily Dickinson found it to be: “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” 

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