Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award

RTDNF presents this award annually 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.

Shepard Smith, FOX News Channel

Shepard Smith

Acceptance Remarks
– Excerpt –

Being accurate and honest and thorough and fair is our primary mission. It’s our professional calling and everyone on my team takes it extremely seriously.

This award is named for the late Leonard Zeidenberg. When he died in 1990, the FCC chair, then Alfred Sikes said of him, Lenn was a model journalist. He was curious relentless and fairly reflected the facts as he understood them. This is an ideal we all try to live up to. We know our jobs come with an intrinsic duty and responsibility to others – to the people who trust us. And there’s the late Dr. Jim Pratt told me in the halls of Farley Hall at Ole Miss back in the day in journalism school, we must seek the truth, we must find the truth and when know know the truth we must tell the truth fully and completely, as clearly and succinctly as humanly possible – always. Unmoved from the influence of those who wish that the truth reflected more favorably on them or their actions. And when the inevitable mistake happens, we must immediately correct it and sincerely apologize for it.

I personally believe this is the duty not only of journalist but of every person who has the honor of a platform of influence. We must never manipulate or invent. We must never knowingly deceive. Because to do so is a disservice to our audience and potentially injurious to our society, and I’m convinced that upon those who intentionally misinform, history will poorly reflect. The times ahead will test all of us as finders and disseminate of accurate information.

My team and I, like you and yours, will strive to remain on task, trying our very best to ignore the Twitter trolls and others who relentlessly pursue us – daily – and to get the facts to the people. All of the people, in every place, in every corner where information is taken in. The First Amendment that this award honors gives us the protection to do what’s right – to do what’s right no matter what. To the founding fathers we’re grateful and mindful of our responsibility, of our purpose and of our duty. So kudos to all of you for your tireless efforts. My team and I admire and salute you and journalists everywhere. And I humbly thank you for this award.

Good night and get it right.


“Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled. We are very proud that his powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms is being recognized through this award.” – Jay Wallace, President and Executive Editor, FOX News and FOX Business Network

Shepard Smith currently serves as the chief news anchor and managing editor for the network’s breaking news division. Additionally, he is the anchor of Shepard Smith Reporting (weekdays 3-4PM/ET). Smith’s highly relatable reporting has been a trademark on FOX News Channel (FNC) since he joined the network at its inception in 1996.

Smith has covered virtually every major news story over the course of his career and has played a major role in the network’s innovation of the way news is presented. On Shepard Smith Reporting, state-of-the-art newsgathering is enhanced with advanced technologies as well as digital and social media to bring viewers the latest hard news from the newly constructed signature studio known as The FOX News Deck.  Additionally, Smith’s dedicated team of information specialists interrupt programming as needed at a moment’s notice to bring viewers the latest news as it unfolds throughout the afternoon and primetime lineup.

FOXSmith has provided extensive coverage on major news stories of the last several years, including: the funerals of former President George HW Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush; the Kavanaugh hearings; the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; the shootings at the Capital Gazette; the attacks in Nice, France; the 2015 deadly terror attacks in Paris; the riots following the shooting of civilian Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, MO and the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In August 2015, he contributed to the special “FOX News Reporting: Timeline of Hurricane Katrina – 10th Anniversary,” which took a look back at the damaging storm that centered in the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Additionally, Smith has traveled to Ukraine to report on the unrest in Kiev and Crimea. He’s covered the shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and was notably on site from Boston providing live coverage during the aftermath of the marathon bombing.  He also reported live from Rome during the election of Pope Francis, as well as on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.  In 2011, Smith was on location from Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami and during the nuclear threats. During that same year, he provided extensive news coverage and analysis of the anti-government protests and civil unrest in Egypt and Libya. Prior to anchoring Shepard Smith Reporting, Smith anchored The FOX Report and Studio B, both of which ranked number one in their respective timeslots, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Since the beginning of his tenure with FNC, Smith has covered numerous prominent news events, including Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the Middle East conflict from the Israel-Lebanon border, 9/11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom; the Columbine school massacre, and President Clinton’s impeachment trial. He was also one of only two television correspondents to witness the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in June of 2001. Early during his career at FNC, Smith held the position of a New York-based general assignment reporter and was then promoted to a senior correspondent.

Prior to joining FNC, Smith was a Los Angeles-based FOX News Edge correspondent, reporting on a wide range of stories for the FOX affiliate news service, including the crash of TWA Flight 800, the Montana Freeman Standoff, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Before this, Smith gained extensive local news experience throughout the state of Florida, reporting for WSVN-TV (FOX) in Miami, the former WCPX-TV (CBS) in Orlando, WBBH-TV (NBC) in Fort Myers, and WJHG-TV (NBC) in Panama City, where he began his television career. He attended the University of Mississippi and is a native of Holly Springs, MS.

 

Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award

Updated on 2019-03-14T19:05:23+00:00, by firstawards.