'On the Media' repeats as Bart Richards Award winner

April 02, 2013

Public radio’s weekly media criticism show, “On the Media,” produced by WNYC and NPR, was selected as the 2012 recipient of the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, presented annually by the College of Communications at Penn State.

With its submission, “On the Media” (www.onthemedia.org) focused on how news organizations cover elections and use facts, as well as how quickly they share information -- and especially how the race to be first impacts news judgment. With its selection, “On the Media” became the first back-to-back winner in the 18-year history of the award, which will be presented Thursday, May 23, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The Bart Richards Award recognizes outstanding contributions to print and broadcast journalism through responsible analysis or critical evaluation.

Several pieces around two themes comprised the “On the Media” submission for co-hosts Bob Garfield, a Penn State alumnus, and Brooke Gladstone, who also serves as the show’s managing editor. One area of emphasis was the reporting of politics and the politics of reporting. The other area of focus was the rush to judgment by news organizations.

In the first instance, “On the Media” pointed out examples of how facts were used, or not, by the media. The program also examined little-known deals made with politicians to get quotes, a process even practiced by the nation’s most respected newspaper. While focusing on the speed with which the media did its job in regard to certain stories, “On the Media” found news organizations made decisions they should have known were wrong. Such flawed reporting produced immediate and lasting consequences.

Judges for the award cited the impact and value of the work. The three judges were: Richard Cole, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina; Carole Feldman, director of news operations and finance for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C.; and Brian Healy, a distinguished broadcast news professional who crafted an Emmy Award-winning career as a producer for CBS News for more than 35 years.

“The ‘On the Media’ pieces explored timely yet lasting issues of importance -- especially true for a political campaign but also true for good journalism anywhere and anytime. They were presented in an interesting and compelling way,” Cole said. “In addition to journalistic enterprise, they showed reason and common sense.”

Feldman and Healy appreciated both the insight and entertainment that the pieces provided.

“‘On the Media’ looks at some of the worst in journalism, tries to make sense of why it happened and what lessons can be learned for the future,” Feldman said. “Its focus on the race to be first and how accuracy is sometimes sacrificed in that race was especially poignant.”

“The program provides timely, informative, accessible criticism of issues that can taint journalism and journalists,” Healy said. “It’s a service to journalists as well as citizens who rely on an open, unbiased media in a democratic society. The reports are also entertaining.”

Garfield earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State in 1977. Along with his work for “On the Media,” he is a columnist for MediaPost and The Guardian and co-host of Slate’s language podcast “Lexicon Valley.” He’s been a contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine, Civilization and the op-ed page of USA Today. Garfield has also written for The New York Times, Playboy, Sports Illustrated and Wired, and has been employed variously by ABC, CBS and CNBC.

As a lecturer, he has appeared in 37 countries on six continents, including such venues as the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Capitol, the Rainbow Room, the Smithsonian, Circus Circus casino, the Grande Ole Opry, Harvard University and a Thai kickboxing ring in Cape Town, South Africa. He has written five books, most recently “Can’t Buy Me Like” (2013).

Gladstone is the co-host and managing editor of “On the Media.” After working in print media, she joined NPR in 1987 as senior editor of “Weekend Edition” with Scott Simon. She became senior editor of “All Things Considered” in 1989. In 1991, she spent a year at Stanford University as a Knight Fellow and then reported for NPR from Moscow during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency from 1992 to 1995.

Gladstone served for six years as NPR’s first media correspondent and then joined “On the Media” when WNYC relaunched the program in January 2001. She has been the recipient of two Peabody Awards, a National Press Club Award, an Overseas Press Club Award and several others. She also is the author of “The Influencing Machine” (2011).

  • Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield

    "On the Media" is co-hosted by Brooke Gladstone, who also serves as the show's managing editor, and Bob Garfield.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated April 03, 2013