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Bradley Knows Value of Journalists’ Access

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

While Ed Bradley’s mantel is packed with 18 Emmy Awards, along with George Foster Peabody and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University awards and a George Polk award, he’s going to have to make room for at least one more statue.

Mr. Bradley, who has been a CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent for 24 years, will receive the Leonard Zeidenberg Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation for his work on behalf of press freedom.

“Every award is important,” he said. “This has a special significance because of the connection to the First Amendment.”

Access for journalists has become more difficult over the years, Mr. Bradley said. For example, when he was a White House reporter at CBS in the late ’70s, he did a story on a campaign event that President Carter said was off-base, but the head of state didn’t retaliate.

“When the president of the United States tells you what he thinks of your story, you tend to remember it,” Mr. Bradley said. “But the next day was no different. It wasn’t that he said, ‘I want no one from the Carter team to talk to Bradley.’ It’s not that way today.”

That’s why the work of the RTNDF is vital, he said. “It’s an important organization and [it’s essential] to recognize the importance of the First Amendment,” he said, “and that you can’t abridge freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and people have the right when they have grievances to petition the government.”

Mr. Bradley has been an active supporter of the foundation, creating an endowment for a $10,000 yearly scholarship. In 2000 he received the Paul White Award, the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s highest honor, given in recognition of lifetime achievement.

While the scholarship is appreciated, RTNDA President Barbara Cochran said, Mr. Bradley is receiving the First Amendment Award in recognition of the contributions he has made through his work to advance press freedom.

“He’s done tremendous investigative work for years and years, and we view investigative reporting as advancing what the First Amendment is there for: to keep the public informed,” she said.