NBC’s Lester Holt hosted the 2017 duPont Awards ceremony last night. But before the winners were announced—including Dateline, Fusion, CBS and HBO—Holt reminded the press gathered at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library about their fundamental purpose.
Here are Holt’s remarks, in full:
It is an honor to be here with you this evening. And to share the stage with colleagues who through their work remind us that journalism remains a high calling. A noble profession. And an important pillar supporting the foundation of our democracy.
We are all aware of what is happening around us. The attacks on our legitimacy. The efforts to undermine our relevance. And I know I am expected to stay something profound. But here’s all I got: Do our jobs. Do our jobs.
They say the best revenge is doing well. And we will do well by reporting the news the way they teach in places like this. Attribute. Source. Go where the facts lead us. Tell our audiences what we know and what we don’t know. And never be afraid to ask the hard questions.
What we can’t do is get trapped in a debate. We are not at war with anyone or any entity. That’s what some would hope for. We cannot afford to be seen as petty or on someone’s side.
This is also not a time to worry about being liked. Reporters have been taking hits from people in power throughout history. What we’re going through now did not start in January 20th. Our jobs are not be liked, but to be respected. And valued. And we do that by being unflinching.
Often when we speak of brave reporters we think in terms of those working in conflict or disaster zones, or in places in the world that don’t honor freedom of the press.
This is a time to be brave. To push aside the smoke screens that are meant to block us from the truth.
Our honorees tonight remind us of the power and potential of broadcast journalism…to change lives, to open eyes, and to hold those in positions of power or influence accountable.
That’s our job. That’s what we do. And that’s what we will do. So let’s get started.