The Norman Transcript

Local news

November 18, 2008

Lehrer receives inaugural Gaylord Prize

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In an age of advancing technology, the basics of journalism will stay the same even as the medium in which it is delivered changes, journalist Jim Lehrer said Monday when he accepted the inaugural Gaylord Prize in Oklahoma City.

"In the beginning there is always a news story," Lehrer said. Blogs, podcasts and comedy shows may be commentators, but they have to get their information from hard news.

"It has to start with one of us -- one of us being reporters, one of us who was there, one of us who read the original document, one of us who got the first interview," he said.

Lehrer addressed area journalists and journalism students when he accepted the award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. He is the first winner of the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication, administered by the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

OU President David Boren said the idea for the prize was born in a conversation with Edward L. Gaylord over lunch one day.

"He said, 'By the way, would you mind if I gave you $22 million to establish the school of journalism as a college?'" Boren said.

Included in that gift was the establishment of the Gaylord Prize. In that same lunch conversation, Gaylord told Boren the first recipient of the prize would be an important decision.

"Just be sure that the first time the prize is awarded it's awarded to someone truly special," Gaylord told Boren.

Boren said Lehrer is the perfect first recipient of the Gaylord Prize.

"No journalist in America is more respected or sets higher standards than he has," Boren said.

Lehrer is the executive editor and anchor of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." An Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning journalist, he was chosen to moderate the presidential and vice presidential debates for the past six elections. Lehrer also is a playwright and author of 18 novels.

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