Quinnipiac University presents Fred Friendly First Amendment Award to Gwen Ifill

Jun 14, 2010, 16:35 ET from Quinnipiac University

HAMDEN, Conn., June 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Quinnipiac University presented its 17th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award to Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS' "Washington Week," on June 14 during a luncheon ceremony at the Metropolitan Club in New York City.

(Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100614/DC20687 )

The award, presented in honor of Friendly, the former CBS News president who died in 1998, acknowledges one of the most basic constitutional rights and recognizes those who have shown courage and forthrightness in preserving that right.

"Gwen is a top writer, great reporter and fine communicator," said Ruth Friendly, Friendly's widow who presented the award to Ifill with Quinnipiac President John L. Lahey. "She is gutsy, determined and dedicated to her craft.... I can't help but to feel the presence of Fred today. He would be nodding hearty approval, too."

In her acceptance speech, Ifill told the crowd of 90 that "First of all, I am relieved to be somewhere where I am not confused with Queen Latifah.

"As I prepared to come here today, I scanned the list of previous recipients and my insecure side kicked in. Tom Brokaw, Morley Safer, Lesley Stahl, Ted Koppel, Jim Lehrer and Tim Russert. Such company. Here I was a black girl from Queens walking among giants. And then I thought, if George Clooney could play Fred Friendly in the movies, then why couldn't I get this award?"

Ifill, who also serves as senior correspondent for the "PBS Newshour," said she spends a great deal of time on college campuses, talking to students about the future of journalism.

"I tell them Wikipedia is a good place to begin research, but a terrible place to end," she said. "I tell them Jon Stewart is a fine topical comedian, but they have to understand what the story is before they can properly get the joke. I ask them 'Who do you think Jon Stewart watches?'"

Ifill said television news is not always what it could be, but it's still essential and important. "The challenges are different now than they were for Fred Friendly. We have access to so much more information, yet so little of it is news. We believe that folks are still hungry to know...that the rigors of daily life have not yet managed to entirely obliterate the need for information that happens beyond your neighborhoods...and beyond our borders."

Among those from the news industry who attended the luncheon were: Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes," Hoda Kotb co-anchor of "Today," Susan Filan, senior legal analyst for MSNBC.

Ifill joins past Fred Friendly First Amendment Award recipients: Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Bill Moyers, Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, Jim Lehrer, Robert MacNeil, Don Hewitt, Peter Jennings, Mike Wallace, Christiane Amanpour, Tom Bettag, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, Steve Kroft, Charles Gibson and Morley Safer.

Quinnipiac is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian institution located 90 minutes north of New York City and two hours from Boston. The university enrolls 5,700 full-time undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students in 52 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs of study in its School of Business, School of Communications, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, School of Law, and College of Arts and Sciences. Quinnipiac ranks among the top 10 universities with master's programs in the Northern region in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges. The 2009 issue of U.S. News and World Report's America's Best Colleges named Quinnipiac as the top up-and-coming school with master's programs in the North. Quinnipiac also is recognized in Princeton Review's The Best 371 Colleges. For more information, please visit www.quinnipiac.edu.

SOURCE Quinnipiac University