CBS, NBC Newsers Pick up Murrow Awards

By Chris Ariens 

The ballroom at New York’s Grand Hyatt was packed last night with local and national tvnewsers celebrating the best in the business as recognized by the RTNDA – Radio and TV News Directors Association.

At the start of the event, Stacey Woelfel, the chairman of the organization, announced this would be the final RTNDA Murrow Awards dinner, until he clarified saying that as of Monday the organization is known as the RTDNA — the Radio, Television, Digital News Association.

Presenters included CBS’ Russ Mitchell, NBC’s Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb, CNN’s John Roberts and ABC’s Brian Ross. In all, 51 news organizations were recognized for excellence in TV, Radio and Digital journalism.

CBS Evening News EP Rick Kaplan accepted the Murrow award for Best Network Newscast for the second year in a row. NBC News president Steve Capus accepted for Overall Excellence. And NBC’s Richard Engel accepted an award for his continuing coverage of the war in Afghanistan – specifically for his Tip of the Spear reports. Engel, who last week made headlines for declaring, “it’s probably time to start leaving the country,” kept his comments brief last night thanking his NBC News colleagues. Engel is now headed back to Kabul.

One of the highlights of the evening came when “60 Minutes” producers Tom Anderson and Jenny Dubin accepted their award.

The story Exonerated, won a Murrow for Hard News reporting. The story is about the wrongful convictions of several Texas men. On stage with Anderson and Dubin was James Woodard, who spent 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. CBS arranged for Woodard to come to the dinner, his first trip to New York. “Life is beautiful,” said Woodard. Click here to see the “60 Minutes” story.

Other winners included for Best Website; NBC’s Bob Dotson for Best Writing, and CBS Radio News for Overall Excellence.

TVNewser attended the Dinner. Here are our Tweets from the event:

• Natalie Morales, Brian Ross, Phil Griffin spotted at Murrow Awards dinner. NBC’s Richard Engel to speak.

• CNN’s John Roberts presents continuing coverage award to NBC for Afghanistan coverage and CBS Radio for Campaign ’08 coverage.

• Richard Engel accepts continuing coverage award. Thanks NBC colleagues. Roberts says Engel is now heading back to Kabul.

• CBS’ Russ Mitchell announces writing awards at Murrow dinner, including an award for Today show’s Bob Dotson.

• CBS Radio News EP says he’ll keep his comments short: “Like most of the people in this room, I want to get home to see Leno”

• CBS EP on injured reporter Cami McCormick: “If anyone deserves this award, it is she.” CBS Radio won overall excellence award.

• Standing O for man who was part of winning 60 Minutes story. Was wrongly imprisoned for 30 years. Tells crowd: ‘life is beautiful.’

• Linda Ellerbee accepts Nick News doc award. “I have won Emmys & a duPont, but in 38 yrs in journalism I have never won one of these”

• Little known fact just announced by Brian Ross: he used to share an office with Linda Ellerbee when both were at NBC.

• Steve Capus accepting NBC’s overall excellence award gives shoutout to Engel but also Lara Logan, Cami McCormick and Martha Raddatz.

• Capus quotes Russert: we should “applaud and salute” our competitors when good journalism is done.