First Amendment Leadership Award
RTDNF presents this award annually to a business or government leader or other individual who has made a significant contribution to the protection of the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
David Begnaud, CBS News
– Excerpt –
That video reminded me of, of what it was like to to, to be on the island and to listen to those people’s story. You know it reminds me that I always have been as a kid growing up in south Louisiana – I’ve always gravitated to the folks in the back and in the corner who seemingly didn’t have a friend or didn’t have somebody to sit with. And I think what I found in Puerto Rico was a group of people who desperately wanted to be acknowledged and wanted to be heard. And what I, what I remembered as I watched that video was the first night sitting in the hotel room right after we had finished the CBS Evening News. And I remember thinking there has to be more to this that doesn’t just end with the broadcast. What else can we do? And I remember picking up my phone and just talking to it, which seemingly sounds like something we do but it just took on a different meaning in the most viscerally, painfully, authentically sobering way.
I’ve always been told “don’t cross that line.” You know we have that we have that line in journalism and I, well, cross it but I may damn well teeter right on it. And I think what I learned in Puerto Rico is that when you’re following what the heart says to do, if you happen to tip toe on the line or step over it, the boss won’t call you and yell at you, if the heart led the way. Speaking of the boss, Zee, I don’t know if I’ve worked in a newsroom and I mean this – and you know that – where people have been more united and excited by someone. I am so excited to work at CBS News with you at the helm.
. . .
Listen, I want to end by telling you this: after Puerto Rico a couple of things happened in my life that I didn’t expect. It was pride weekend, I was flying and I was about to touch down in McAllen, Texas, and I sent out a tweet that said something to the effect of ‘reporting the truth includes sharing my own,’ and I didn’t feel like I needed to say much more than that. But for a kid growing up in south Louisiana who was gay and had a dream of doing what he does today, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I could stand in front of the faces of the people who I have so much respect for in this room today and be open about who I am. The reality is the people of Puerto Rico, in their gratitude and support of me, I think caused me to be more authentic as a human being than I had ever been before. And I think that’s the irony here. My hope for all of you is that you too one day have a chance to either walk that line or step over it, because again if the heart is leading the way, I don’t know you’ll ever do anything wrong. Thank you for this honor. I am so humbled.
David Begnaud is a CBS News correspondent based in New York. Since joining CBS News in August 2015, his reporting has been featured across CBS News broadcasts and platforms including “CBS This Morning,” the “CBS Evening News,” “48 Hours,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” and CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 streaming news service.
At CBS News, Begnaud has covered a wide range of breaking news stories including one of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, and the devastating earthquake that hit Ecuador in April of 2016 leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured.
In the summer of 2017, Begnaud covered Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. He reported in Puerto Rico for over 30 days covering Hurricane Maria and its devastation. Begnaud traveled outside of San Juan to chronicle the suffering of the people in the mountains and rural areas of the island. While on the ground, he used many different platforms to broadcast breaking news from the island, becoming the only source of information for many Puerto Ricans stuck without power. One of his interviews with the Governor of Puerto Rico was credited for bringing awareness about the lack of supplies being delivered to the residents. His reporting earned him the prestigious George Polk award for public service, which recognizes intrepid, bold, and influential work of the reporters themselves across all media. The award, as the nominating committee states, places ‘a premium on investigative work that is original, resourceful, and thought provoking.’
Begnaud is a veteran field reporter who has covered a wide variety of national breaking news from weather to crime before joining CBS News. Previously, Begnaud was a Los Angeles-based reporter for Newsbreaker at ORA TV, a social media platform for current events and breaking local and world news. He was also a regular contributor to Entertainment Tonight. Before that, he worked at KTLA in Los Angeles from 2010 to 2012 and KOVR in Sacramento from 2007 to 20010. He began his journalism career in his home state of Louisiana at the age of 18 at KLFY-TV as a weekend anchor and reporter while still attending college.
He graduated from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in 2005.
First Amendment Leadership Award 2019
Updated on 2020-01-03T17:52:31+00:00, by .