Bowtie Ball

Honoring Lester Holt and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.

December 8, 2018
Reception 6:00 p.m. Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Tradewinds Island Grand Resort Pavilion
$150 per person. Sponsorship and Tables are Available.

Poynter’s annual fundraising gala, the Bowtie Ball, celebrates significant contributions to journalism and the essential role of a free press in democracy. It’s also a fusion of fashion, fun and community.

Lester HoltLester Holt, a preeminent journalist and anchor of "Dateline NBC" and "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt," the network's flagship broadcast and America's most-watched evening newscast, will be honored at Poynter’s 2018 Bowtie Ball. He will receive the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism for his award-winning work and contributions to the craft.

If you watch NBC, you hear Lester Holt’s voice every night telling you the news. But you won’t hear him talk about what it ’s like moderating the most-watched presidential debate in history, cutting his teeth in local TV news, interviewing world leaders or traveling the country before President Trump’s inauguration to talk to everyday Americans about their hopes and fears. Meet the man behind the news, helping you make sense of it all. 

Headshot of Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.We will also present Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company and former Times publisher, with Poynter’s Distinguished Service to Journalism Award at the Bowtie Ball. During his quarter-century as publisher of The Times, Sulzberger transformed the newspaper into an international, digital-first news organization with a global audience of more than 130 million people and 3.5 million paid subscriptions. During an era of buy-outs and corporate ownership, how did Sulzberger keep the most powerful newspaper in the world a family-run business after more than 100 years? How did he inspire journalism that won 61 Pulitzer Prizes? At Poynter’s Bowtie Ball, listen to Sulzberger tell you himself.

By attending the Bowtie Ball, you will directly support the work of The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school of journalism that teaches over 100,000 journalists from more than 70 countries each year on leadership, ethics, fact-checking, digital tools and local news sustainability. 

Please wear cocktail attire. Bowties are encouraged.

The Bowtie Ball is the annual fundraising gala for the Poynter Institute. There will be opportunities to give to Poynter at the end, including through the bidding items in a live auction. 

Sponsorships are available for this event. Please contact Wendy Wallace, director of advancement at Poynter, at (727) 553-4311 or

To purchase a table of 10, place an order for 10 tickets and we will seat you together. For priority seating and greater visibility before, during and after the event, show your support for Poynter as an event sponsor.

Below: Photos, by Chris Zuppa, from Poynter's 2017 Bowtie Ball Honoring Judy Woodruff 


About Lester Holt

Lester Holt is an award-winning journalist and anchor of "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt," the network's flagship broadcast and America's most-watched evening newscast. Holt also leads NBC News’ special reports, breaking news and primetime political coverage.  

Holt was named to the role of “NBC Nightly News” anchor in June 2015 after eight years as anchor of "NBC Nightly News" weekend editions and 12 years as co-anchor of "Weekend TODAY." In addition, Holt has served as principal anchor of "Dateline NBC" since September 2011.

Holt joined NBC News in 2000 and is known for his outstanding work in the field, reporting and anchoring from breaking news events across the world. In May 2017, he anchored “Nightly News” from Jerusalem during President Trump’s first international trip and reported from Manchester following the terrorist attack at a concert. In April 2017, he interviewed a senior North Korean defector and had rare access to U.S. military operations in South Korea. He has reported from Brussels and Paris on the terrorist attacks that took place across Europe in 2016 and 2015. Previously, Holt anchored from South Africa during the Nelson Mandela memorial service; reported from the streets of Cairo on the latest political and civil unrest in Egypt during the Arab Spring; covered the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan; and reported on the immediate aftermath and response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

His field reporting often focuses on people most directly affected by the biggest stories of the day. In the week leading up to the presidential inauguration in January 2017, he traveled across the U.S. talking with Americans about the nation’s most pressing issues and their hopes for the next four years. Holt also hosted a roundtable of South Carolina voters before the 2016 primary, spoke with Baltimore residents following city-wide protests in April 2015, and had an exclusive talk with the witness who recorded the Walter Scott shooting.

As a preeminent broadcast journalist, Holt was selected to moderate the first presidential debate of 2016, which was the most-watched debate in American history. Holt’s one-on-one with President Trump in May 2017 stands as the most consequential interview of the Trump presidency, after Trump told Holt the firing of former FBI head James Comey was tied to the Russia investigation. In January 2017, he traveled with President Obama on the Commander in Chief’s final trip aboard Air Force One, for an in-depth interview in Chicago. Earlier in the 2016 presidential race, Holt received praise for his work moderating the first Democratic debate of the year. He has also sat down for revealing, news-making interviews with candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. NBC News was the most watched news organization of Election 2016, with Holt anchoring all of the network’s primetime coverage through the Republican and Democratic conventions, debates and Election Night.

Holt came to MSNBC from after 14 years at WBBM-TV in Chicago. Previously, Holt worked as a reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City and sister station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles as a reporter and weekend anchor. His work has been recognized with numerous honors, including multiple Emmy Awards and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award. In June 2017, Holt was honored with Quinnipiac University’s Fred Friendly First Amendment Award. In April 2016, Holt received several notable designations: he was featured on TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list, The Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful People in New York list and was named “Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists. He was named to Variety’s New York Power List in September 2016.

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Behind the Bowtie

Nelson Poynter and his bowtieFor 40 years, Nelson Poynter produced newspapers in St. Petersburg that reflected his belief that excellent journalism, published independently, could help a community prosper and a democracy flourish. He envisioned that beyond his death, the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) would continue serving the community and democracy. Through his careful planning, he founded the Modern Media Institute in 1975 and willed that upon his passing his new school would own controlling stock of the St. Petersburg Times Company. When he died in 1978, the school was renamed The Poynter Institute.

Nelson Poynter proudly wore the bowtie each day. The Bowtie Ball is a celebration that honors Mr. Poynter’s legacy and the impact of journalism in supporting democracy.













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