ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News Journalists Receive RTDNA’s First Amendment Award

By Mark Mwachiro 

ABC News’ Gio Benitez, CBS News’ Ingrid-Ciprián-Matthews, CNN’s Clarrisa Ward and NBC News’ Kristen-Welker were among the thirteen honorees to take home RTDNA Foundation’s 2024 First Amendment award, which honors those who practice, promote and defend journalism.

A reception took place on Saturday night at The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., and MSNBC’s Jen Psaki was the master of ceremony.

Benitez, who’s Good Morning America’s Saturday and Sunday co-anchor and transportation correspondent, earned his nomination for reporting on the Maui fires.


“We’re still thinking so much about the people recovering there in Maui because they really put everything aside and went right to work for the community. Whit (Johnson) and I both witnessed that spirit of aloha, with everybody helping each other right away,” Benitez said on his Sunday show. “I am so proud of ABC News for continuing this Maui 808 project to keep this story in the spotlight every single month here on ABC News.”

Gio Benitez at the RTDNA's First Amendement Awards

Picture courtesy of Chorus Photography

Meanwhile, in her acceptance speech for the award, CBS News president Ciprián-Matthews said, “Journalism requires humility; to ask questions without presuming the answers; to be humble and curious; to have a sense of wonder and to listen, understanding that listening is the most important part of every conversation; to try to connect people and make the world smaller, reflecting at the vast range of voices to get the full picture and better serve the audience.”

She received the award because of her “commitment to excellent and ethical journalism, especially at a time when the stakes are so high,” according to the RTDNA Foundation.

CBS News' Ingrid Ciprián-Matthews accepting her RTDNA First Amendment Award.

Picture courtesy of BP Miller/Chorus Photography

Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, was unable to attend the ceremony as she is on assignment covering the Israel-Hamas war, but she submitted a videotaped acceptance speech. She was honored for her brave, ethical and thorough reporting from some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world.

Finally, The RTDNA Foundation noted that Welker, host of Meet the Press, is receiving an award for her “outstanding political reporting during one of the most contentious periods ever in American politics.”

“There are people who believe the right solution is shutting down different and difficult perspectives. But the better service to the public is to engage those voices, to challenge them and to expose the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable,” Welker said when accepting the award on Saturday. “That is the mission of the show that we carry to this day, every Sunday—including tomorrow!”

Kristen Welker at RTDNA's First Amendment Awards

Picture courtesy of NBC News