The Jessica Savitch Award of Distinction for Excellence in Journalism
This award recognizes broadcasters for their professional excellence and mentoring of future journalists.
This year's recipients are:
David Muir '95 and Diane Sawyer
The award was given on March 13, 2015 at a ceremony held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. David Muir accepted the award on their behalf.
David Muir '95:
David Muir is an Emmy Award-winning journalist for ABC News based in New York. He anchors the flagship ABC News broadcast "World News Tonight with David Muir" and co-anchors the ABC newsmagazine "20/20."
Muir reports from the scene of major news events around the world. Most recently, Muir anchored "World News Tonight" from Havana, Cuba as the highest ranking U.S. official in more than 30 years began talks with the Cuban government on normalization, following his exclusive interview with President Barack Obama on the United States' historic move to reset relations with the country. He was the only evening news anchor to report from Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when Ebola cases appeared in the U.S. and reported from the Syrian border on child refugees now working in Lebanon.
Prior to "World News Tonight," he led the reporting from the scene of the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma and the team was honored with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award. Overseas, Muir gained rare access to the streets of Tehran leading up to the nuclear talks and he was the first American journalist to report from Mogadishu, Somalia on the worst famine of a generation, coming under fire while reporting from the war-torn city. He earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for his reports.
Muir reported from Tahrir Square during the revolution in Egypt, and from Fukushima, Japan following the tsunami and nuclear accident. Here at home, he anchored for hours as the Newtown tragedy unfolded before leaving for the scene. Muir also anchored from Aurora after the movie theatre shootings, from Joplin, Missouri in the hours after the deadly tornado, and from Tucson after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Previously, Muir served as principal substitute anchor for "World News with Diane Sawyer," where his Emmy-nominated series, "Made in America," became a hallmark of ABC's evening broadcast. Muir's dispatches from all over the world are also a regular feature on that broadcast including his recent trip to Ethiopia where he revealed an American doctor's gift of sight to hundreds of villagers. The report drew an overwhelming response from viewers and was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2012, Muir served as a lead correspondent on the 2012 Presidential election. His interviews with presidential candidate Mitt Romney often generated headlines well beyond ABC News. Muir interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama in South Africa after her private meeting with the late Nelson Mandela.
In February 2011, David Muir was named sole anchor of the weekend editions of the flagship broadcast "ABC World News," and the weekend broadcasts were re-titled "ABC World News with David Muir."
Muir joined ABC News in August 2003 as anchor of the overnight news program "World News Now" and quickly moved on to become one of the network's lead correspondents on domestic and international news. He has reported from across the globe, including Egypt, China, the Middle East, South America, Eastern Europe, South Africa and throughout the United States. Muir has anchored his "World News" broadcasts from Cairo to Jerusalem, from London to Beijing.
In November 2010, Muir traveled to China to report on the second-largest economy in the world anchoring from Shanghai and Beijing. In the summer of 2010, he made four trips to the Gulf to cover the BP oil spill. In January 2010, Muir reported from Haiti after the devastating earthquake. He has returned to Haiti multiple times since the earthquake hit, uncovering attacks on women and the unfolding mental health crisis in Port au Prince.
In April 2009, Muir teamed up with Sawyer for a primetime hour on guns in America revisiting the issue in 2014 with their hour, "Young Guns." In March 2009, his reporting on "20/20" revealed the growing ranks of homeless children in America. During the 2008 presidential election, he was part of the network's "Vote 2008" coverage, reporting and anchoring from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and reporting from Ohio on Election Night. Muir reported from Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.
Overseas, in August 2008, Muir reported on the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated China's Sichuan Province. He reported from the Israeli-Lebanon border in August 2006, where he covered the Israeli war with Hezbollah. He was also in Gaza in June 2007 to cover the Hamas coup, reporting from inside the Gaza Strip. In August 2007, he was sent to Peru to cover the worst earthquake in that country in more than 35 years, and in March 2008, he reported from the Ukraine more than two decades after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Muir anchored and reported from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
In August 2005, he was inside the New Orleans Superdome as Hurricane Katrina hit, and stayed in that battered city to cover the unfolding crisis. His reports for "World News" and "20/20" were the first to reveal the deteriorating conditions inside the Convention Center and Charity Hospital, as he waded through chest-deep waters to get to the patients still inside the hospital. In October 2006, he was on the scene of the Amish schoolhouse shootings in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He also reported from West Virginia on the letters left behind by the coal miners during the Sago Coal Mine tragedy for "20/20."
Muir has contributed to several in-depth series on "World News," including "Going Home," "The Fight to Save the Middle Class" and the broadcast's "Key to Success" series, reporting on efforts to revitalize Yosemite National Park.
Shortly after joining ABC, Muir anchored ABC News' coverage of the ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and in his first week on the air anchored several hours of the network's coverage of the Blackout of 2003.
Prior to joining ABC News, Muir distinguished himself as an award-winning anchor and correspondent for WCVB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Boston. He spent a month in the Middle East reporting on the war in Iraq, helping to earn the station the prestigious National Headliner Award. He spent several weeks in Florida reporting on the 2000 Presidential election recount, and reported extensively on the sexual abuse scandal within the Boston Archdiocese.
While in Boston, Muir was part of the team that received the regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting and Associated Press honors for his work tracing the path of the September 11th hijackers. His anchoring and reporting of breaking news in Boston earned top honors from the Associated Press.
Muir joined WCVB-TV after spending five years as an anchor and reporter at WTVH-TV in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. While in Syracuse, he filed reports from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gaza City following the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, earning top honors from the Radio-Television News Directors' Association. He also anchored the station's coverage of President Clinton's impeachment trial from Capitol Hill. The Associated Press honored him for Best Enterprise Reporting and Best Television Interview. The Syracuse Press Club recognized him as anchor of the Best Local Newscast, and he was voted one of Syracuse's Best News Anchors by the readers of "The Syracuse New Times."
A magna cum laude graduate of Ithaca College, Muir attended the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University and studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain. He served as Ithaca College's 2011 Commencement speaker, and established an endowed fund to help Park School students study overseas.