Despite the Big Lie’s dispiriting tenacity, despite the “disinformation at scale” that AI’s advances may signify, some of the best journalists on TV are imperturbably digging for truth, combating deception and defending democracy.
That is the message sent by the work of the winners of the 12th biennial Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in TV Political Journalism administered by the Norman Lear Center.
"At a time when journalists are fighting a tidal wave of disinformation and misinformation,” said Research Professor of Communication and Journalism Martin Kaplan. “It’s incredibly heartening to honor these examples of superlative work by indefatigable TV reporters and producers, from the national to the local level."
Entrants to the 2023 Cronkite competition were limited to one subject: disinformation and the threats it poses to democracy – a fitting topic, given the award’s namesake. Every weeknight for 19 years, up to 30 million Americans watched Walter Cronkite anchor the CBS Evening News. A poll named him “the most trusted man in America.” When he went to Vietnam in 1968 to see if the U.S. government was telling the truth about winning the war, his answer – no – was an inflection point in the war, in politics and in the job of journalism.
Today’s winners are heirs to that legacy. Complicated questions now confront them: How do you debunk disinformation without amplifying and elevating it? How do you push back on lies without enabling the drama that liars crave? How do you show fairness without succumbing to false equivalence and bothsidesism? Promising, instructive answers can be found in the work highlighted here.
USC Annenberg’s Cronkite Awards partners with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania to present the Brooks Jackson Prize for Fact-Checking. The prize is named for the founding director of FactCheck.org.
Awards will be presented on Friday, June 9, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. For more information, including the winning entry videos, visit https://www.cronkiteawards.org/2023winners.html