By Huong Cao
More than 100 Washington influencers and media gathered at the 5th Annual Washington Women in Journalism Awards on April 26 to honor four female journalists, who “have contributed greatly to our society through their dedicated work,” said Gloria Story Dittus, Story Partners’ chairman, who co-hosted this event with Cathy Merrill Williams, President and Publisher of the Washingtonian. This year’s award winners were:
Distinguished Female Journalist of the Year: Amanda Bennett, Voice of America
Distinguished Woman in Broadcast Television: Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report
Distinguished Woman in Broadcast Radio: Audie Cornish, National Public Radio
Distinguished Woman in Print: Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
When delivering the event’s kickoff speech, Dittus said: “History has shown us that female journalists are more likely to go unrecognized than male journalists.” This is why Washington Women in Journalism Awards was born five years ago: To foster the success of women in journalism who have overcome all odds in pursuit of the truth, just like their male counterparts. More importantly, in the current environment, this event also served as an occasion to “discuss the state of the media and the future of journalism.”
The evening reached a moment of empowerment when Sweet, in celebration of the fifth year of this event repeated “a fact is a fact” four times and let the audience speak it the last time themselves.
In an age when the media is under attack, Sweet advised journalists to do their jobs, no matter the platform. Walter added: “You just do what you always do. Do your job diligently and accurately. When people lose that focus, things become problematic.”
Bennett emphasized that those entering the profession should be prepared to work hard. Working hard means to “make that extra call, look up that extra documents, do the extra research, follow your gut and if you do not understand something, do not write it until you do,” stated Sweet.
In addition to hard work and dedication, journalists should also have a thick skin and a defined sense of self, according to Cornish. “You have to care more about the topics and the people you encounter to get the stories than anything else.”
While women are still the minority in journalism as well as many other professions, the well-attended event recognized the great success of female journalists whose excellence in the profession comes from continuous effort and resilience.
(From left to right in photo: Lynn Sweet, Audie Cornish, Gloria Dittus, Amy Walter, Amanda Bennett and Cathy Merrill Williams. Photo credit is Daniel Swartz/Revamp.)
Huong Cao is a George Mason University Undergraduate Teaching Assistant