Two NPF Award Winners Talk About Their Optimism

By Sandy K. Johnson

It was a fitting tribute: Two reporters who left The Washington Post to create an entirely new kind of journalism accepting an award named for Washington Post legend Ben Bradlee.

Jim VandeHei and John Harris, co-founders of POLITICO, received NPF’s Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award with heartfelt memories of the late Bradlee and an optimistic outlook on the future of journalism.

jim-johnHarris noted that Bradlee groomed a generation of ambitious reporters. “He was why I wanted to work at the Post,” Harris said of the newspaper that launched his career – starting as a 21-year-old intern.

Harris said he sees his role as fostering the “what’s next” future of journalism with timeless values of fairness, impact, public service and hard facts. “It is our job to defend and vindicate those values,” he told 950 people at the National Press Foundation’s 40th anniversary dinner in Washington, D.C.

VandeHei, who is leaving POLITICO after the November elections, was equally passionate about the need for good journalism.

“We believe journalism matters. The world needs really good, nonpartisan, deeply reported journalism,” he said. “People want quality content and I believe we can produce a model around it.”

Bradlee’s widow, Sally Quinn, was on hand for the evening, which featured many exceptional award winners, including longtime radio host Diane Rehm and television anchor Charlie Rose.

Watch full video from the dinner here.