ST. PETERSBURG — This year the Poynter Institute's top honor will go to a veteran broadcaster who has spent four decades anchoring and reporting for all three networks: Katie Couric.
Couric will receive Poynter's 2019 Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism this fall. She has co-hosted NBC's Today Show, anchored the CBS Evening News, served as a correspondent for 60 Minutes and reported for ABC News.
The 62-year-old mother of two is a two-time Edward R. Murrow Award winner for best newscast and an author, podcaster, documentary filmmaker and advocate for cancer screening and research. She has hosted the Olympics and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and runs her own online media platform, Katie Couric Media.
"Katie Couric has blazed a trail in broadcast and digital journalism with a remarkable ability to connect with her viewers and bring an amazing array of stories and news reports closer to all of us," Poynter Institute president Neil Brown said in a statement.
"Across every TV network, on multiple platforms and in many storytelling forms, Katie earns the trust of her audience and reflects the power of stories to improve people's lives. It's hard to imagine a more worthy recipient of this award."
The Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times, gives the award to journalists who have made a "significant impact on democracy and its institutions."
Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine will receive Poynter's 2019 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. Pearlstine, 76, has spent five decades working as a journalist around the world, and has served as executive editor of the Wall Street Journal, editor in chief of Time and chief content officer at Bloomberg L.P.
Both will be honored at Poynter's annual Bowtie Ball, which will be held Nov. 2 at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club.
"Norm Pearlstine is one of the smartest, most creative editors in America and his brilliant stewardship of so many of the nation's prestigious newsrooms is unparalleled and continues today in Los Angeles," Brown said. "The Poynter Institute is so very pleased to recognize Norm's contributions, which reflect the power and possibility of great journalism."
Past winners of Poynter's lifetime achievement award include PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer and last year's recipient, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt. Couric is the first Poynter alumnus to win the honor, attending an ethics in reporting seminar in 1988.
The distinguished service award has been previously awarded to ProPublica founding editor in chief and CEO Paul Steiger, former Philadelphia Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney and last year's honoree, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., former publisher of the New York Times and chair of the New York Times Co.
One of Couric's earliest assignment was in Florida, where she worked as a reporter for WTVJ-TV in Miami in the 1980s. She got her start in network news covering the Pentagon for NBC News, then joined the Today Show.
She spent 15 years as co-anchor of the Today Show, then left in 2006 to become host of the CBS Evening News. She became the first woman to serve as solo anchor of a nightly network news show and one of the highest-paid journalists in the world. In 2008 and 2009 the Radio Television Digital News Association gave its Murrow award for best newscast to Couric and the CBS Evening News.
Outside of journalism, Couric has been a longtime activist for cancer awareness and research. In 1998, her first husband, NBC News legal analyst John Paul Monahan, died of cancer at the age of 42. In 2001 her sister Emily Couric, a state senator in Virginia, died at 54 of cancer.
Katie Couric helped found Stand Up to Cancer, which has raised more than $600 million to fund scientific research, and the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance.
The annual Bowtie Ball is an event that brings together hundreds from around the community to raise money for the nonprofit Poynter Institute, which includes the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, News University, PolitiFact, International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise.