July 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 10, 2019) – Katie Couric, the pioneering and award-winning broadcast journalist, best-selling author and media entrepreneur, will receive the 2019 Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism at the Poynter Institute’s annual Bowtie Ball on Nov. 2.

This prestigious award honors those whose journalism careers have made a significant impact on democracy and its institutions. For nearly four decades, citizens have turned to Couric for trustworthy, credible reporting on everything from presidential elections to health care.

Couric was co-anchor of the “Today” show on NBC for 15 years before going to CBS and becoming the first solo woman anchor of a nightly news broadcast and the highest paid journalist in the world. The “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” won the 2008 and 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast. In 2009, Couric was awarded with the Emmy Governor’s Award for her broadcasting career. After CBS, Couric served as the Global News Anchor at Yahoo News and later founded Katie Couric Media (KCM). This female-driven company develops and produces socially relevant and cutting-edge projects including documentaries, video series and a daily newsletter.

“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,” said Neil Brown, president of the Poynter Institute. “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.”

Couric will become the first Poynter alumnus to be honored with the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. She attended an ethics seminar for reporters at Poynter in 1988, learning how to implement Poynter’s framework for ethical journalistic decision-making.

Previous recipients of the Poynter Medal are:

  • Lester Holt, anchor of “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC”
  • Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour”
  • Tom Brokaw, former anchor of “NBC Nightly News”
  • Bob Schieffer, former CBS News anchor and host of “Face the Nation”

The Poynter Institute will also honor Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, with the 2019 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual who has championed the goals and craft of journalism through actionable efforts or meritorious service.

Before joining the Times in 2018, Pearlstine worked as an editor and reporter for five decades in the United States, Asia and Europe. Among his many executive-level positions, he was executive editor at The Wall Street Journal, executive editor of Forbes for the West Coast and the Pacific, editor-in-chief of Time Warner and Time Inc., and chief content officer at Bloomberg L.P.

“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.”

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award are:

  • Arthur Sulzberger Jr., former publisher of The New York Times and chairman of The New York Times Company
  • Brian Tierney, advertising executive and former publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, media entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder of The Institute for Journalism in New Media
  • Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief, CEO and president of ProPublica

Both Couric and Pearlstine will be honored at Poynter’s Bowtie Ball on Nov. 2 at St. Petersburg’s premier waterfront hotel, the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club. Each year, the Bowtie Ball brings together hundreds of prominent media executives, business leaders, philanthropists, public servants and citizens for a night of fun, fashion and a celebration of journalism and the First Amendment.

The Bowtie Ball carries on the legacy of the Institute’s visionary founder Nelson Poynter. As the publisher of the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), Mr. Poynter was renowned for editorial innovation and pioneering independent ownership models. He proudly wore a bow tie. Attendees are encouraged to do the same

Proceeds from the fundraising event support the work of the nonprofit Poynter Institute, including the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, News University, PolitiFact, International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise. Each Poynter initiative supports journalists and advocates for citizens dedicated to democracy — which will be of paramount relevance heading into the 2020 election cycle.

To sponsor the Bowtie Ball, please contact Wendy Wallace, director of advancement, at or (727) 553-4311 for details. Tickets are on sale here.


About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a teen digital information literacy project. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.


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Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
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