Andrea Mitchell Accepts ICFJ Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism

By: 11/10/2022

Andrea Mitchell is chief foreign affairs correspondent and chief Washington correspondent for NBC News, and host of MSNBC's “Andrea Mitchell Reports." She delivered the following remarks at the ICFJ Tribute to Journalists 2022 on Nov. 10, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.

 

Thank you all so much. Thank you to Matt Winkler. Thanks, Jonathan Capehart, my friend and colleague. I just want to pause for a moment to say that I have had so many mentors and so much support — many in this room. I'm honored that Cesar Conde is here. Ken Strickland, my bureau chief and his deputy, Chloe Arensberg. And of course, Kristen Welker, my dear friend — our chief White House correspondent.

So, thanks to all of you. But let me just pause and say, after seeing and hearing from Evgeniy and Vasilisa and Carlos and Anisa, I'm just overwhelmed with the awe in what they do and such gratitude to the ICFJ for supporting them. I know you all feel the same way, so I just want to say that what we do here in Washington pales in comparison. But thank you so much for this award and your overly generous introduction.

It was remarkable to see that video with a great history of bad hairstyles and hair colors over many decades. You can look it up, I swear — there was a time when some of those looks were fashionable.

I want to thank the board of the International Center for Journalists for honoring me tonight, especially in this group of spectacular journalists. And I want to also give a shout-out to your fellow board member, the incomparable Carrie Budoff Brown, who unfortunately couldn't be with us tonight. But I have to say, she is really responsible for overseeing and pulling off NBC News' record-breaking election coverage all week. So we thank her.

There certainly could not be a more important time in our country and in the world for the mission of the ICFJ. With the rise of far-right governments in Europe, the most powerful Chinese leaders since Mao, the first war of aggression in Europe since World War II, and the continuing effects on global health and governance of the worst pandemic in 100 years, world leaders need to be under the constant lens of solid, well-researched, fact-based journalism. That is what the ICFJ does every day, 24/7, training and supporting, mentoring journalists in the most critical areas of the world.

We need great journalism now more than at any time I can recall. And historians would say in our own country, more than at any time since the Civil War, never before has our own system been challenged as it has been challenged in the last year or year and a half. And that is mirrored by authoritarian governments, movements overseas.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 61 journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year alone, the largest number in Ukraine, but also 13 in Mexico. Five in Haiti. Many more have been wounded or jailed. Freedom of the press is an oxymoron in China, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Cuba and under other totalitarian regimes. Our journalist colleagues in Afghanistan — especially the women — have been set back decades by the Taliban. Global pressure for human rights in Saudi Arabia is taking a backseat to economic interests at times like this. We need fearless reporting, and those undertaking this mission need the ICFJ.
 

As so many of you in this room, as all of you in this room, I see journalism as a higher calling without realizing it, of course, at the time. In looking back now, I was inspired to be a reporter by the tectonic shifts in post World War II America, when the relative complacency of the 1950s was shaken by the eruptions of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, assassinations, the Vietnam War. I became a reporter when it was not yet fashionable or even expected —some cases allowed — to include women in the newsroom. It was even harder for men and women of color. And forget about it if you were openly LGBTQ.

My parents' political activism and determination that their daughters could be anything that we wanted to be drove me to where I am today. But it was also my love of being part of a team. From Girl Scouts to the school orchestra and a choir to college radio and local radio and TV news, and then on to NBC News, I love the process of working collegially, of digging into the facts, doing the interviews, reporting and writing a story, a story that only reaches the public with the teamwork of great editors and producers. And it has been my great fortune that for the last 15 years, I've enjoyed the extraordinary leadership of my executive producer, Michelle Perry, who is with us today.

Everyone here tonight is doing important work, important work to make our world a better place. Sometimes that requires a lot of sacrifice. As we all juggle the political cross-currents and the constant transformations in the media, let's not forget the fundamentals. Good, solid journalism trumps everything else, no matter what the platform. And by mentoring and supporting an enormous network of global journalists, your mission is critical. So thank you all so very much for the privilege. I humbly accept, your honor, tonight. Thank you.

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