On Tuesday night, Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker received the prestigious Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club at a gala event held in Washington, D.C.
This was the 50th anniversary of the award being handed out by the NPC, which is its highest honor and recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field.
In accepting the award, Welker said, “This 50-year milestone, and becoming a part of this legacy, is a reminder to me … of our collective responsibility to uphold the values of this treasured award.
And tonight, I want to talk about the importance of using our journalism to shine a light on the hard realities that we are collectively facing right now.”
She added, “We are confronting a crisis of trust in our institutions – in government and, yes, in the media, too – and so it has never been more important to revitalize the spirit of the Fourth Estate: to hold those in power, and those who seek positions of power, to account for their words and their actions. And to respect our readers, viewers, and listeners enough to know we don’t need to shield them from the complexities of the world in which we live.”
Welker went on to say, “A lot of the incredible journalists gathered here tonight and across the country probably share one thing in common – the realization long ago that we are not in this role to win popularity contests.
Rather, we are here to participate in the hard work of uncovering the truth as best as we can for the people we serve. That’s the job.
This is why the Fourth Estate Award and the work of the National Press Club is so vitally important. To remind ourselves that journalists are meant to be ONE OF democracy’s shining pillars.”
Also in attendance at the Gala to witness Welker receiving the award were Welker’s family and her NBC and MSNBC colleagues, including
- Rebecca Blumenstein – NBC News president, editorial
- Rashida Jones – president, MSNBC
- Carrie Budoff Brown – SVP, Politics
- Ken Strickland – NBC News, SVP & Washington bureau chief
- Chloe Arensberg – NBC Newsm deputy Washington bureau chief
- David Rohde – NBC News senior executive editor, National Security
- Andrea Mitchell – NBC News chief Washington correspondent and chief Foreign Affairs correspondent
- Peter Alexander – NBC News chief White House correspondent and Weekend Today co-anchor
- Carol Lee – NBC News managing editor, Washington, D.C.
Strickland and Blumenstein showered Welker with praise during the gala, with Strickland saying, “the other thing I want to say about Kristen which is really important is when you have the opportunities and the responsibilities that Kristen has, whether she has the title or not. She is a leader in our organization. And I remember the day that she and Peter became co-chief White House Correspondents, and Kristen came into my office and said, I want a culture for our team that represents what the best of journalism and what the best of NBC is inclusive, people having a voice and a seat at the table and that really speaks to a lot about who she is. So I am happy for you. I am impressed by you. And I am so proud of you, and congratulations for this award.”
Blumenstein added, “We live in an era where there has never been more of a premium on original journalism that illuminates and informs. Overcoming the deep partisanship and division in American politics is perhaps the fourth estate’s biggest challenge. As Kristen is already showing, you know how to bring people together and get them talking, which is a crucial step in bridging that divide. Congratulations, Kristen, on this incredibly well-deserved honor.”
The gala also honored the winners of the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Awards, which included Evan Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Russia since March 29 and accused of espionage, and Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, who are currently in prison awaiting sentencing on charges related to national security.
Kat Stafford, Reuters’ global race and justice editor, was also recognized as the 2023 Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism winner.