CNN’s Stelter, 'Reliable Sources' earn Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A weekly program that examines how journalists do their jobs and how media outlets affect the stories they cover has earned the 2015 Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism.

“Reliable Sources,” which airs Sundays on CNN with host Brian Stelter, earned the national award coordinated annually by the College of Communications at Penn State. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to print and broadcast journalism through responsible analysis or critical evaluation. 

Submissions for the award came from individuals and media organizations across the United States. 

On the show, Stelter addressed issues such as whether the media should withhold the identities of mass murders as well as how the press treats the threat from ISIS and even a look back at Hurricane Katrina. In addition, with his online work, Stelter offered a mix of original reporting, commentary and feature writing.

The award will be presented May 26 in New York City. 

After College of Communications faculty members screened all entries for the award, three finalists were forwarded to external judges. The judges selected “Reliable Sources” and Stelter because of his compelling work, a special strength in understanding the evolution and use of social media by the media, and his ability to offer cogent criticism on a variety of topics.

This year’s external judges were: R.B. Brenner, professor and head of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas; Kathleen Pavelko, president and CEO of WITF, based in Harrisburg; and Dan Victor, a senior staff editor for The New York Times. 

As CNN’s senior media correspondent and host of “Reliable Sources,” Stelter reports and writes for CNN, CNN International, CNN Digital and CNNMoney on a regular basis. In addition to the weekly show, he produces more than 500 stories each year that appear across CNN Digital platforms. Stelter said those stories often provide the raw material for segments that appear on television.

Prior to joining CNN in November 2013, Stelter was a media reporter at The New York Times. Starting in 2007, he covered television and digital media for the Business Day and Arts section of the newspaper. He was also a lead contributor to the “Media Decoder” blog.

In January 2004, while he was still a freshman in college, Stelter created TVNewser, a blog dedicated to coverage of the television news industry. He sold it to Mediabistro.com in July 2004, but continued to edit and write for the blog during the next three years until he graduated college and joined The New York Times.

Stelter published The New York Times best-selling book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV” (2013), about the competitive world of morning news shows. He was featured in the 2011 documentary, “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” directed by Andrew Rossi. He has been named to Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30: Media” lists for the past three years.

Stelter graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a concentration in journalism from Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2007. He is on the board of Baltimore Student Media, a nonprofit that publishes Towson’s independent student newspaper, The Towerlight.

The Bart Richards Award is named after the longtime editor of the New Castle News, who was one of the founders and the second president of the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. In addition, Richards (1893-1987) served as president of the United Press International Editors of Pennsylvania, director of the Reporters Institute of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association, and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association. Richards served three terms as a representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, representing the city of New Castle.

Richards married the former Elizabeth Ann Weingartner of New Castle. Their two children, George Richards and Ann Richards Brooks, both attended Penn State.

The Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism was established in 1994 by George Richards, retired president and chief executive officer of Granby, Connecticut-based Vitex Packaging Inc., in memory of his father. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to print and broadcast journalism through responsible analysis or critical evaluation.

Last Updated March 16, 2016