Judy Woodruff to speak about the election at Oct. 13 GJR event

Judy Woodruff, a veteran broadcaster who has been in the television industry for more than 40 years, will discuss the election at Gateway Journalism Review’s  fall fundraiser on Oct. 13. She will be interviewed by Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting who will also present her with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The fundraiser is an annual event organized by the Gateway Journalism Review to recognize people who have made outstanding achievements in their journalism career and raise funding for the publication of the print magazine of GJR. This year marks the journalism review’s 50th anniversary celebration, marking the founding by Charles Klotzer. (GJR was founded as St. Louis Journalism Review.)

“Judy Woodruff is today’s Walter Cronkite or, in the public media realm, Jim Lehrer,” said William Freivogel, GJR’s publisher. “That is, she is one of those unique people who has unassailable integrity and credibility. In an era of fake news and political divisions, this is no small feat.  She is unflappable, modest, conversational, trustworthy.”

Woodruff is anchor and the managing director for PBS NewsHour. She started her career in Atlanta in 1970 as a news anchor at CBS affiliate, WAGA-TV, where she reported for local and state governments. She left for NBC in 1977 and was there until 1983. While at NBC, Woodruff served as NBC’s Today’s Show chief Washington correspondent and also wrote her book, “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House.”

Woodruff joined PBS in 1983 and worked there for 10 years. After a stint at CNN hodgins “Inside Politics,” he returned to PBS in 2006. Some of the programs she has anchored and produced at PBS are “Frontline with Judy Woodruff”, “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, and Generations Next: Speak Up. Be Heard”.

Woodruff has covered the presidential election since the time of Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Woodruff believes that “a free press is at the heart of a democracy; it’s what ties the American people to their government, to each other, and to the rest of the world.” At the October event she will be discussing the press’s role and the upcoming election.

Sawyer, who will be interviewing Woodruff, started the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in 2006. It is one of the most successful of the new era of nonprofit online news organizations. It provides grants for veteran reporters as well as for students to tell untold stories from around the world. At first the center concentrated on international reporting but more recently has been funding local reporting as well. The Pulitzer Center has collaborated with the NewsHour on many projects. The Sawyers and Woodruff are neighbors and friends but they will be in their own homes during the interview.

Two other awards will be given at the event. The Freedom Fighter Award goes to Jeremy Kohler, investigative reporter, at St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He is being recognized for his many investigative stories, including disclosures of law breaking by former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who now is in prison. GJR also will give the Whistleblower Award to Mark Pedroli, a St. Louis lawyer who founded the Sunshine and Accountability Project. Pedroli, in 2019, filed a lawsuit against the Missouri House for withholding public information about some elected officials in the state.

“Like all media outlets, particularly the community news organizations in the Midwest where we are based, the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for us,” said Spinner, the GJR editor. “This fundraiser is crucial for us to raise the money we need to produce our quarterly magazine and to offer our digital news for free.”

GJR is one of two remaining journalism reviews in the country. It covers media news between the coasts and is based at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

(Editor’s note: Jackie Spinner, GJR’s editor, is a current recipient of a Pulitzer Center grant for her latest documentary, and the Pulitzer Center helped fund GJR’s landmark issue about race in St. Louis earlier this spring. Publisher William H. Freivogel has received Pulitzer grants past and present for stories on police accountability.)

Ololade is a PhD Candidate at Southern Illinois University where she is researching international communications in the Global South. She is the social media editor for GJR.

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