Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas 2000

Hearst Newspapers

Helen Thomas has been a pioneer throughout her career in journalism. She has gone from copy girl to White House correspondent where, for 40 years, she has covered presidents and -- as she likes to put it -- history every day. She also was among the Washington newswomen who worked to open the doors of press organizations closed to them. She became the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it agreed to admit women as members; the first woman president of the White House Correspondents Association and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club and later its first woman president in 1993.

As White House bureau chief for United Press International from 1974 to 2000, she was the first woman to have the privilege of asking the first question at presidential news conferences. Later, UPI and Associated Press alternated on asking the first and second questions. She became the first woman reporter to close a presidential news conference in 1961 during John F. Kennedy's first term with the traditional ``Thank you, Mr. President.''

Thomas began her career as a copy girl on the old Washington Daily News, joining UPI in 1943 as a radio writer and filing the Washington City news wire designed as a tip service for news bureaus and government offices in the nation's capital. She later covered the Justice Department, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, now Health and Human Services and a score of smaller agencies. She began covering Kennedy in the 1960 campaign and was permanently assigned to the White House in 1961. She resigned from UPI in May 2000 and is now a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

A graduate of Wayne State University, she has received 30 honorary degrees, including honors from Wayne State, Brown University, Skidmore College and Michigan State University.

Her awards include the National Press Club's 4th Estate Award; the Columbia University Journalism Award, the International Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the Missouri School of Journalism Award, the Peter Zenger Award, the Hearst Newspapers' Bob Considine Award and the Society of Professional Journalists first life-time award.

Other Winners of this Award

2017

NPF Award Winner: Clarence Page

Clarence Page

Chicago Tribune

2015

NPF Award Winner: Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm

NPR

2014

NPF Award Winner: Alberto Ibargüen

Alberto Ibargüen

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

2012

NPF Award Winner: Frank Deford

Frank Deford

NPR, HBO, Sports Illustrated

2011

NPF Award Winner: Lucy Dalglish

Lucy Dalglish

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

2010

NPF Award Winner: Gilbert M. Grosvenor

Gilbert M. Grosvenor

National Geographic Society

2009

NPF Award Winner: Bill Kovach

Bill Kovach

Committee of Concerned Journalists

2008

NPF Award Winner: Linda Johnson Rice

Linda Johnson Rice

Johnson Publishing Company

2007

NPF Award Winner: Thomas L. Friedman

Thomas L. Friedman

The New York Times

2006

NPF Award Winner: Art Buchwald

Art Buchwald

New York Herald Tribune

2005

NPF Award Winner: Jack Germond

Jack Germond

Baltimore Sun

2004

NPF Award Winner: Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh

The New Yorker

2003

NPF Award Winner: Benjamin C. Bradlee

Benjamin C. Bradlee

The Washington Post

2002

Eugene Patterson

St. Petersburg Times

2001

Katharine Graham

The Washington Post

2000

Helen Thomas

Hearst Newspapers

1999

Allen H. Neuharth

The Freedom Forum

1998

Herb Block

The Washington Post

1997

Carl Rowan

Chicago Sun-Times and King Features

1996

Ann Landers

Chicago Tribune/Creators Syndicate Abigail Van Buren, Universal Press Syndicate

1995

William Safire

New York Times

1994

Nat Hentoff

Village Voice

1993

Elliot Jaspin

Cox Newspapers Philip Meyer, University of North Carolina

1992

David Broder

Washington Post

1990

John Siegenthaler

Nashville Tennessean

1988

Eugene L. Roberts

Philadelphia Inquirer

1987

A. M. Rosenthal

New York Times

1986

John H. Johnson

Johnson Publishing Company

1985

Donald Larrabee

Griffin-Larrabee News Bureau

1984

Theodore A. Burtis

CEO, Sun Company

1983

Leo Bernstein

Financier