When New York Times Washington bureau chief James Reston accepted the 1963 Zenger Award for Press Freedom from the University of Arizona, he told the crowd: “I happen to think that powerful centralized government in Washington is here to stay, no matter who is in the White House. But the greater the power there, the greater the need for critical press, and the greater the need for hard skeptical reporting.”
That is essentially the mandate pursued by the sixth NYT winner of this award, executive editor Dean Baquet, who will accept the prize Oct. 20. In between Reston and Baquet, other Times winners have been Arthur Krock in 1966, the paper as a whole in 1971, Seymour Hersh in 1975 and Tom Wicker in 1984.
From the UA School of Journalism announcement:
Baquet worked with University of Arizona A journalism professors William Schmidt and Nancy Sharkey at the Times, where he was a metro reporter and special projects editor for the business desk in the 1990s. He returned in 2007 as Washington bureau chief, national editor, assistant managing editor, managing editor and then executive editor in 2014.
“Dean is an extraordinary, tenacious journalist,” said Schmidt, a deputy managing editor when Baquet was named managing editor in 2011. “Under him, the Times has been tireless in pursuing corruption and malfeasance. In one recent two-year period, the Times alone filed 14 freedom of information lawsuits, seeking the release of critical government documents hidden from public scrutiny.”
The award is named in honor of John Peter Zenger and Anna Catherine Zenger, who took over as publisher of the New York Weekly Journal in 1734 after her husband was jailed by British colonial authorities for criticizing the administration of New York Governor William Cosby.