ST. PETERSBURG — Longtime NBC News anchor Lester Holt will receive the 2018 Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism this fall.
The 59-year-old Holt will be honored at the Poynter Institute's annual Bowtie Ball on Dec. 8. The Poynter Institute owns the Tampa Bay Times.
Holt spent more than two decades working in local TV news before joining NBC News in 2000. He now anchors NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Dateline NBC.
He has reported on events around the world, including natural disasters in Haiti and Japan, terrorist attacks in Brussels, Manchester and Paris and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also the network's lead anchor for breaking news, political coverage and NBC News' special reports.
When Holt was named the anchor of NBC Nightly News in June 2015, he became the first African-American to anchor a weekday network nightly newscast solo.
"Lester Holt's distinguished journalism career is one covering communities with depth, grace and integrity," Poynter president Neil Brown said. "He worked as a local journalist in some of America's most vibrant markets, and his excellence and work ethic have led him to be anchor of one of America's most watched and influential newscasts.
"Whether it's reporting from global hot spots, moderating presidential debates or conducting news-making presidential interviews, Lester Holt stands tall as a journalist who continues to make a mark. We are pleased to honor him with the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement and look forward to a great celebration of journalism here in December."
Holt was born in California and started his career in radio at California State University. Then in 1981 he became a TV reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City. He worked as a weekend anchor and reporter at sister station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, then returned to WCBS-TV in those same roles.
In 1986 he started his 14-year run anchoring the evening news for WBBM-TV in Chicago. There, he earned a 1990 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award for his work on "48 Hours: No Place Like Home."
Holt moved to MSNBC in 2000, where he worked for news programs such as Today, Dateline and Lester Holt Live. He joined NBC Nightly News as a weekend anchor in 2007 and replaced Brian Williams as lead weekday anchor in 2015.
Holt has won several Emmy Awards and the Quinnipiac University's Fred Friendly First Amendment Award. The National Association of Black Journalists named him its "Journalist of the Year" in 2016, the same year he was one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.
The Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement recognizes the careers of journalists who have "made a lasting impact serving citizens in our democracy." Last year PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff received the honor and in 2015 it was CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer.
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Tickets to Poynter's Bowtie Ball with Lester Holt go on sale today. Sponsorships are also available.