In Depth

2009 Hall of Famer: Geraldo Rivera

By Deborah Kaufman

Currently the host of "Geraldo at Large" on Fox News Channel, Geraldo Rivera has long been a high-profile personality in Hispanic journalism. Although he has won more than 170 awards over the span of his career, his induction into the NAHJ Hall of Fame has special significance for him.

"The actors who win the Academy Award always thank their peers and say how nice it is to be recognized by them," said Mr. Rivera. "In a deep sense, that's what's going on now. I have no more intimate peers than my fellow Hispanic journalists."

As one of the first Hispanic network news reporters, Mr. Rivera said, he felt a "special responsibility" that he has "sometimes honored by my conduct and sometimes not so much."

"But I've never lost the loyalty of the Hispanic viewer or the larger Hispanic community," he said.

Mr. Rivera started his career as a reporter for WABC-TV in New York. In addition to presenting a revealing series on the grim conditions at the Willowbrook State School for developmentally disabled children--which led to a government investigation and the eventual closing of the school--Mr. Rivera presented the first TV broadcast of the Abraham Zapruder film of the assassination of President John Kennedy, as host of ABC's "Good Night America." He was a member of the original cast of ABC's "Good Morning America" and also had an eight-year association with ABC's "20/20" as an investigative reporter. While at "20/20," his hourlong "The Elvis Cover-Up" was "20/20's" highest-rated show for more than two decades.

"The Geraldo Rivera Show" began in 1987 and ran for 11 seasons in syndication. In 1998, he also hosted a series of specials on NBC. Mr. Rivera served as a foreign correspondent in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chile, Israel, Guatemala, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Colombia, covering the international drug wars, civil wars and ethnic conflicts.

Mr. Rivera also hosted CNBC's primetime "Rivera Live," where he covered the O.J. Simpson civil trial. Joining the Fox News Channel in 2001, Mr. Rivera reported on international conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East, the Iraqi elections and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and interviewed Michael Jackson.

Mr. Rivera's previous honors include the George Foster Peabody Award, three national and seven local Emmys, two DuPont awards, three Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards and three Scripps Howard Journalism Awards. The 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award acknowledged his NBC News documentary "Women in Prison" and one of the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards honored "Back to Bedlam."

His current mission, said Mr. Rivera, is to be "a unique voice in the Fox News Family." "To keep reminding our audience that there's an essential fairness required of America even in the strident partisan nature of commentary," he said. "You have to remember there's another side and I intend to represent that other side." Mr. Rivera, who "applauded the efforts of young Hispanic journalists," also noted "a joyous and encouraging" piece of the big picture. "We're going to increasingly be a bicultural nation," he said. "That will change the country and that will change us."