WSU to honor “Frontline” program, producers

PULLMAN  – Three Edward R. Murrow Awards will be given by Washington State University this year to recognize communication excellence.

The 2007 awards honoring “distinguished achievement displaying journalistic integrity and courage” will be given to the PBS news program “Frontline” and to “Frontline” producers David Fanning and Michael Sullivan. The award ceremony will take place at the Murrow Symposium, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

“‘Frontline’ has been steadfast for more than two decades,” said Erica Weintraub Austin, interim director of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. “It is very meaningful to our school and our graduates to recognize the communication excellence and courage which Murrow most definitely would have applauded.”

According to the “Frontline” Web page, the program debuted in 1983 to critical acclaim and is America’s only regularly scheduled investigative documentary series on television. The series has won all of the major awards for broadcast journalism, including 32 Emmys, 22 duPont–Columbia University Awards, 12 Peabody Awards, and nine Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.

“‘Frontline’ has set a standard for excellence in journalism as part of our lives for years,” said V. Lane Rawlins, president of Washington State. “Recognition of ‘Frontline’ is a fitting tribute to the Murrow legacy.”

David Fanning began the development of “Frontline” in 1982 and has been executive producer since the program’s first season.
Michael Sullivan, a native of Portland, Oregon, was promoted to executive producer for special projects in 2002 after serving as the series’ senior producer and then executive producer.

“Having the ‘Frontline’ producers here on campus, available to students, is what the symposium is all about,” said Erich Lear, dean of the WSU College of Liberal Arts. “It’s part of the undergraduate experience that is WSU. Our students in communication and many other areas are face-to-face with the best year after year.”

Edward R. Murrow, a 1930 graduate of Washington State University, is credited with making broadcast journalism respectable, courageous and sincere and with establishing standards to which broadcast professionals still aspire.

Annually, the Edward R. Murrow Symposium attracts the nation’s most celebrated communicators to campus. Long before the University began honoring excellence with awards, the communication school was at the forefront of communication excellence. Beginning in the 1970’s the school created thought-provoking forums and discussions with topics such as “The First Amendment and Broadcasting,” “Reshaping American Democracy” and “Violence in America: Is TV to Blame?”

The tradition of the Murrow Award began in 1997 with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to ABC news correspondent Sam Donaldson. Other Murrow awardees include Walter Cronkite, Frank Blethen, Keith Jackson, Al Neuharth, Ted Turner, Bernard Shaw, Daniel Schorr, Christiane Amanpour, Sir Howard Stringer, the late Daniel Pearl, the late Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw.

In conjunction with the symposium each year, working communication professionals, many of whom are graduates of the Murrow School, take part in dozens of workshops that benefit WSU’s Murrow School students as well as communication students from the University of Idaho and high school students from across the region.

“The Edward R. Murrow legacy means that our students are not only challenged to work in the Murrow tradition of excellence, they also have access to professional communicators,” said Marvin Marcelo, Murrow Symposium director.

Hundreds of high school journalism students each year take part in a competition that honors school newspaper writing and reporting excellence.

At an annual banquet preceding the symposium, students are recognized for scholastic excellence and new scholarship award winners are announced. Regional, state and national communication companies contribute to the event through sponsorships.
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