60 Minutes creator to receive USD’s Al Neuharth Excellence Award Sept. 30

60 Minutes creator to receive USD's Al Neuharth Excellence Award Sept. 30 Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes and executive producer of CBS News, will receive the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism at The University of South Dakota on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Hewitt will be the 17th recipient of the award, which is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth and honors lifetime achievement in journalism. The university and the Freedom Forum created the award in 1989 after they also jointly established the Neuharth journalism and scholarship program at USD.

Neuharth is a South Dakota native and a 1950 graduate of USD.

The award presentation will take place during the Al Neuharth Award Symposium at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Slagle Auditorium, 414 E. Clark Street. Neuharth will present the award, which consists of a sculpture and honorarium. During the presentation, Hewitt will speak and respond to audience questions.

Following the one-hour award ceremony, the audience will be invited to watch the first scheduled debate between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry. The 90-minute debate will be shown live on a big screen and will be followed by a post-debate panel discussion featuring Hewitt, former U.S. Sen. George McGovern and former South Dakota Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby.

The symposium events are free and open to the public.

"No single individual has had a greater impact on television journalism over the past half-century than Don Hewitt," said Neuharth. "He introduced great journalism and journalists to millions through innovation and a passion for depth, balance and great storytelling."

The Neuharth Award Symposium will mark the first event in the new Al Neuharth Legacy Series, an on-going series of conferences, meetings, panel discussions and lectures in Vermillion that are sponsored by the Freedom Forum's Al Neuharth Media Center and the state of South Dakota.

The goal of the Al Neuharth Legacy Series is to engage university students, faculty, professionals, state leaders, experts and the public in tackling issues critical to South Dakota.

Born Dec. 14, 1922 in New York City, Hewitt began to pursue a career in print journalism in 1942 working as a copy boy for The New York Herald Tribune after attending New York University for one year. During World War II, he served as a war correspondent in the European and Pacific theaters (1943-44). He later worked as a night editor for the Associated Press' Memphis bureau (1943-45) and became an editor for the Pelham (N.Y.) Sun in 1946.

In 1948, Hewitt left print journalism for broadcast news and joined CBS News as an associate director of Douglas Edwards with the News. He continued with the show for 14 years as producer and director and later became executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

Hewitt produced and directed CBS coverage of many of the world's major news events during these breakthrough years of television news including the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, the installation of Pope John XXIII in 1958 and the first presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.

In 1968, Hewitt created the highly successful news program, 60 Minutes. He was responsible for CBS News' coverage of the national political conventions from 1948 to 1980.

After 36 years on 60 Minutes, Hewitt stepped aside as executive producer in June 2004. He now is executive producer of CBS News, helping to develop and launch new projects and fine-tune existing ones.

He is the author of Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and 60 Minutes in Television (Public Affairs, 2001), in which he recounts experiences with the all-star roster of journalists with whom he has worked, from Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite to Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Dan Rather, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer, Steve Kroft, Lesley Stahl, Bob Simon and Christiane Amanpour.

Throughout the years, Hewitt has received numerous awards and honors including the 1980 Broadcaster of the Year Award from the International Radio and Television Society, the Founders Emmy by the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (1990), the Lifetime Achievement Emmy presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (1995) and the Spirit of Liberty Award (1999) from the People for the American Way Foundation.

Among Hewitt's most recent awards are the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors George Heller Lifetime Achievement Award (2003),� the Spirit Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (April 2003), the Director's Guild Association Honor for contributions to American culture (June 2002), the 2001 Carr Van Anda Award for his contribution to journalism, bestowed by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and the 2000 Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from Quinnipiac College.

Past recipients of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism include: Tom Curley, president and publisher of USA TODAY, 2002; Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, 2001; John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and award-winning journalist for The Tennessean, 1999; Tim Russert of NBC News and Louis D. Boccardi, president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press, 1998; Cokie Roberts of ABC News, 1997; Robert MacNeil of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, 1996; Albert R. Hunt of the The Wall Street Journal and Judy Woodruff of CNN, 1995; Charles Kuralt of CBS News, 1994; Larry King of CNN, 1993; Tom Brokaw of NBC News, 1992; Helen Thomas of United Press International, 1991; Carl T. Rowan, columnist and author, 1990; and Walter Cronkite of CBS News, 1989. ����������

For more information about the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, contact: Jack Marsh, executive director of the Al Neuharth Media Center, (605) 677-6315 or jmarsh@freedomforum.org.

About The Freedom Forum

The Freedom Forum, based in Arlington, VA, is a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. The foundation focuses on three main priorities: newsroom diversity, the Newseum and First Amendment issues.

The Al Neuharth Media Center at The University of South Dakota honors Al Neuharth, a 1950 graduate of The University of South Dakota who founded USA TODAY and the Freedom Forum. In addition to journalism education programs at The University of South Dakota, the Freedom Forum funds and co-directs the Native American Newspaper Career Conference at Crazy Horse Memorial, near Custer. The workshop introduces American Indian high school and tribal college students to the possibilities of a journalism career.

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