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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Story Behind NPF’s Ben Bradlee Award

Bob Meyers by Bob Meyers 0 comments

Ben Bradlee wasn’t sure he wanted the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award– the most prestigious award of its kind in the country – named after him.

"I don't like it, it's not a good idea, I'm changing my mind about it," the formidable Bradlee told Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell in 2005.

Howell, a formidable person in her own right, was a member of the National Press Foundation board of directors. The conversation took place near Howell’s office in the Post newsroom. She was not put off. "No, Ben, it's a good idea, you're important, the award is important, let’s do this," she recounted later.

And that was that. The nation's oldest and most important award for U.S. newspaper editors would now carry the name of the nation's best known and most charismatic editor – the leader of Watergate coverage, the fighter for publication of the Pentagon Papers, the developer of the paper’s groundbreaking Style section.

The award became synonymous with the legendary editor. Robert Moore, editorof the El Paso Times and the 2014 Bradlee winner, called it “the greatest honor of my life.”

Bradlee, who died Oct. 21 at age 93, didn't lose his lust for the game even as he was giving the first Bradlee award to Ron Royhab, editorof the Toledo Blade, in 2006.

When he came up to the stage to present the award, Bradlee was shown the large 15-inch tall by 9-inch wide incised crystal vase. "All things considered, I'd rather win this than give it," he said to laughter, handing it to Royhab.

The idea of naming the NPF Editor Award of the Year Award in honor of Bradlee was developed by board member George Condon, then Washington bureau chief for Copley News Service. NPF’s Editor of the Year Award had been established in 1984; Bradlee had retired from the Post in 1991. Condon told the 25-member NPF board that naming the award in honor of Bradlee was a perfect way to permanently link the highest standards of imagination, professional skill, ethics and an ability to motivate a staff  – qualities that lead to great newspapers, exciting stories, and that serve the highest public good – with a living legend.

The board voted unanimously to propose the idea, and Howell took it to him. He ultimately agreed.

Editors who have received the award include Royhab; David Remnick of The New Yorker; Jeff Cohen of the Houston Chronicle; Leonard Downie Jr., Bradlee’s successor at the Post; Paul Anger of the Detroit Free Press; Mark Silverman of the Tennessean; David Newhouse of the Patriot-News; Gregory L. Moore of the Denver Post; and Robert Moore of El Paso.

Bradley also joined us at the NPF annual awards dinner in 2007, when David Remnick received the Bradlee award. Remnick had worked for the Post from 1982-1992, before leaving to edit The New Yorker, for which he won the award.

"He was a great reporter, a great editor, he's the best," Bradlee said with obvious affection. And Remnick returned the favor.

"When I interviewed with Ben I never actually saw his face. I was sitting in a chair, kind of low, in front of his desk, and all I saw was this enormous pair of shoes..."

NPF has another connection with Bradlee, one that benefits British journalists. After the 1979 death of his friend and colleague Larry Stern, Ben set up what became a scholarship for British journalists. The funds were donated to the Washington Journalism Center, which became a part of NPF in 1993. That was the year I joined NPF, and sometime after I became head of it in 1995, I met with him, in order to explain what had happened to the Stern fellowship.

He was wearing a heavy dark blue sweater over his trademark Turnbull & Asser candy cane striped shirt with a white collar and a tie loosened at the neck.  It was a surprising affectionate meeting, as I walked him through NPF and my own career since leaving the Post 14 years earlier, and the plans I had for the foundation, and the Stern fellowship. Mortality seemed to be on his mind, as at one point he said, “I’m 75 years old, Bob!”

He lived another 18 years. But with some people, you don’t see the years, you see the spirit.

Meyers is now president emeritus of NPF, after serving as its leader for 21 years.


Tagged Awards
Friday, October 3, 2014

Covering Ebola in Your Community

National Press Foundation by National Press Foundation 0 comments

NPF reached out to a few health reporters for their advice on covering Ebola if it emerges in your coverage area. They responded quickly with a good list of questions and some sourcing ideas. Use this list, and send us your own counsel and questions in the comments section. We will keep this document updated as the Ebola story continues.

Free, authoritative, updated Ebola information from The Lancet, here:

Plus, a Stateline, Q&A on what states are doing to prepare for an Ebola outbreak.


A good primer (and great read!) on covering Ebola comes from the Washington Post’s Lenny Bernstein, on the ground in Liberia:

Here are some basic things any reporter covering Ebola should know. Most of these answers can be found on the CDC website, where an Ebola update page has FAQ and latest news.

What are the symptoms and how long does it take for them to show?

How is Ebola transmitted?

What are the protocols being enforced in airports nationwide to detect possible infected travelers?

How well prepared are U.S. hospitals to deal with possible cases?

Are certain people more susceptible than others?

Is there a cure or experimental treatment?

How does this virus affect minors and pregnant women? What are their chances to survive?

What should you do if you think you might have Ebola?


About the patient: Where did he/she come from? How was he/she exposed? Where was he/she living/working? Who did he/she potentially expose? Where and when did he/she seek treatment? When was Ebola suspected? How was he/she diagnosed? What is the patient’s current status? What medications are being administered? What is the chance of survival?

About the case: Who is being quarantined? How are contacts being traced? Is there a centralized tracking system in place (usually at the state level) to monitor fever cases + West Africa travel or contact with a case? If so, how are these systems mobilized once an index case is identified? For example, in NC, the NC Health Alert Network is a secure intrastate system for health alerts and crisis communications between state and local health departments and law enforcement. Separately, a statewide Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool monitors disease patterns in Emergency Department visits, EMS responses and poison center calls.

In contact tracing, how are people outside of friends and family defined as contacts and then counseled? For example, the apartment groundskeepers in Dallas that hosed away Mr. Duncan's vomit might have been more exposed to virus than even the family he was visiting. Which contacts are being monitored? Have areas touched by the patient and contacts been sanitized?

About the community: What additional level of surveillance or tracking is being instituted? What level of mandatory isolation or quarantine are permitted by state health guidelines? Have schools been affected? Is there a local West African community? Are they organizing extra precautions, fund-raisers or volunteer efforts of any kind? If there is an outbreak in my area, what can people do to protect ourselves? What is the public health department doing to educate the public? Is there a designated hospital in the area that is best equipped to contain the virus if a patient is diagnosed? What precautions are in place to prevent exposure of health care workers or others, and were they in place when the patient was first identified?


Dallas: Zach Thompson, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services: 214-755-9299 (mobile)

Dallas: Candace White, Texas Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas PIO: 682-551-3707 (mobile) or

North Carolina: Megan Davies, MD, Chief and State Epidemiologist, (919) 733-3421 or

North Carolina: Scott Zimmerman, DrPH, MPH, Director, NC State Laboratory of Public Health, (919) 733-7834 or

Canada: Dr. Michael Gardam, Director, Infection Prevention and Control University Health Network, Toronto:  or (416) 340-3758

Canada: Dr. Todd Hatchette, Service Chief, Division of Microbiology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Halifax Capitol Health: or (902) 473-6885

Reporters should first contact their similar state authorities in a community outbreak.

For local outbreaks


Local public health officer, hospital leader or ministry of health official who knows the details of the case and control efforts.

State public health officials


The following journalists contributed to this report:

Karen Falla, Univision; Julia Belluz,; Liz Neporent, ABC News; David Kroll, Forbes; Christine Vestal, Stateline; Pauline Dakin, CBC News

Monday, September 29, 2014

National Press Foundation Selects New President

National Press Foundation by National Press Foundation 0 comments

September 29, 2014—Washington, D.C., — The National Press Foundation today announced the appointment of veteran journalist Sandy Johnson as President & Chief Operating Officer.

 “The Board of Directors is very excited to begin working with Sandy,” said Chairman Heather Dahl. “She has the perfect blend of executive-level management, strategic thinking and experience implementing innovative ideas.  Combine these qualities with her deep roots as a journalist; I know she will lead our Foundation to the next level.”

Ms. Johnson succeeds Bob Meyers, who led the nonprofit foundation for 21 years in its mission to educate and train thousands of journalists on critical issues confronting the public.

"I’m delighted that Sandy has been selected to lead NPF forward,” said Mr. Meyers. “Her vision and commitment to journalism and democratic values will make an immediate impression. I look forward to working with her on the transition. "

Ms. Johnson has held senior management positions at several national news organizations, including The Associated Press, AARP Bulletin, Stateline and the Center for Public Integrity. She was AP’s Washington Bureau Chief for 10 years, overseeing coverage of the federal government, elections and politics and working with AP journalists in all 50 states as well as across the globe. Under her direction, AP refused to call the 2000 presidential race for George W. Bush despite enormous pressure after the television networks made the erroneous projection. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her decision.

Ms. Johnson has served on NPF’s Board of Directors since 2001 and was Chairman of the Board from 2007-2008.

 “I am honored to take the reins from Bob Meyers and transition NPF into its next chapter,” said Ms. Johnson. “As the news business adapts to revolutionary changes, journalists of all stripes need the education and training that NPF provides, now more than ever.”

NPF has offered free professional development to journalists since 1976. Through seminars and webinars, NPF helps journalists better understand and explain the impact of public policy and other issues to readers and viewers. Upcoming programs focus on finance literacy for young people, lung disease research and entrepreneurship in China, for example.

NPF is a 501(c)(3) organization. More information is available at


Tagged About NPF
Friday, September 5, 2014

Terrorism Connects Us All

Bob Meyers by Bob Meyers 0 comments

Terrorism connects all of us, even as it is futile in advancing the mad goals of the perpetrators. The National Press Foundation condemns it and extends deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who have been victimized. Terrorism cannot succeed at anything other than showing that barbarity exists. It is despicable and beyond comprehension.

Terrorism attacks the innocent. It crushes those seeking to live their lives or help others. In this last category fall three fallen journalists, Steven J. Sotloff and James Foley, and also Daniel Pearl, all of whom were killed trying to do what journalists do – seek out knowledge and bring that knowledge to others. Mr. Pearl was on staff at The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Foley were independent journalists, filing stories from locations where there were few borders and no bureaus. Two hundred eleven journalists have been imprisoned since 2013 and 34 have been killed in 2014, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Terrorism attacks the survivors, those who worked with or loved those who perished. Mr. Sotloff was friends with a member of the NPF extended family, who is devastated by his loss. The day Mr. Pearl’s 2002 death was announced, the paper’s editor, overcome with grief, was unable to attend an NPF event honoring his leadership of – what else? – The Journal’s coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On that infamous day, 2,977 people died, on the ground and in the air. Only a few of those dead were military, and they were working in offices. The others were simply leading their lives.

Terrorism destroys the fragile connections between those who seek to help and those who want to help. This foundation has for more than a decade produced programs for international journalists on health issues. We started in 2002 when I telephoned Professor Joep Lange, at his lab in Amsterdam. Dr. Lange was then president of the International AIDS Society, and I wanted to test his interest in NPF developing programs for non-U.S. journalists in conjunction with the upcoming AIDS conference in Bangkok. He liked the idea, approved it, and put me in touch with IAS staffers with whom we collaboratively developed the program. More than 600 journalists from 93 countries have attended our journalist-to-journalist programs over the years, launched when Dr. Lange said Yes to an idea that help others.

Dr. Lange was one of 298 people killed in the rocket attack on Malaysian flight 17 last July. Also killed on that flight was Glenn Thomas, a communications consultant with the World Health Organization with whom we had worked on both AIDS and tuberculosis programs. The flight was over Ukraine and intelligence sources said the rocket had been fired by pro-Russian separatists – terrorists.

With the world flooded with weapons, and sectarian militias glorying in asymmetrical warfare, there is not going to be an end to terrorism anytime soon. Which means more people, including journalists who’ve calculated the risks, and also the unaware innocent, will die. These horrific deaths, of people born into the wrong sects, of airline passengers five miles above the ground and headed a thousand miles away, of office workers, of children in refugee camps, of women who get in the way, diminish us all. It is mind-boggling and insane, and at the moment it is what we have to live with.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Politically Driven Suppression of News in the White House?

Shanza Lewis by Shanza Lewis 0 comments

In a letter to President Obama, journalist organizations complain of restrictions on reporters covering The White House. Click HERE to read the full story.

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