On Tuesday, The Plaza Hotel in New York played host to the fifth annual Mirror Awards, a well-catered lunch ceremony—white wine and salmon salad—put on by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School and honoring the reporters and editors who “hold a mirror to their own industry for the public’s benefit.”
Gathered around the thirty-some tables were a cast of characters both corporate—Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes introduced Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts (away in Lausanne closing NBC’s Olympic bid) as recipient of the Fred Dressler Achievement Award—and editorial, with a sprinkling of tech in the form of Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley, a Newhouse alum who received an award for “impact, innovation and influence.”
On the editorial side, New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman took home an award for his piece on Roger Ailes. Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott and Center for American Progress’s Eric Alterman took one each for commentary. Four different New Yorker writers were nominated for the Best Profile award, which Ken Auletta won. Out of leftfield, or the fields left of New York, Milwaukee Magazine’s Mary Van de Kamp Nohl won for best in-depth reporting.
As befits an award ceremony, recipients graciously accepted awards without stirring up controversy. All save Alterman, who caused a minor ripple when he told the room of media reporters to “stop treating Fox News like a news organization, because it’s not.”
“I felt I could say what I said because everyone knows its true,” Alterman told Adweek after the ceremony. “Fox news says it’s a news organization, so most people treat like it one. [But] you’re not doing your job if you pretend like that’s true anymore.”
Apparently, at least one person in the room was upset that he and his fellow media-beat brethren had been admonished by a peer in this calm and respectable setting. Alterman said that as he returned to his table, one audience member shouted at him, “Out of place!”
An odd comment, given that it was that very opinion for which he was being awarded. Far be it from a media commentator to hold a mirror to his own industry.