Broadcast journalist and author Jim Lehrer was presented the inaugural Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication on Monday.
The $25,000 prize was established by the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and funded by an endowment from the Edward L. Gaylord family. The honor was presented during a luncheon at the Skirvin Hotel.
"I will always remember this,” said Lehrer, who anchors public television’s "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.”
"I have the best job,” he said. "I don’t imagine making a living any differently.”
Lehrer said Internet technology has revolutionized journalism, but the basic principles remain. He said bloggers, comedians and talk show hosts can’t exist without the basic delivery of accurate, straight-forward news.
"Journalism is still about the story,” said Lehrer, winner of Emmy and Peabody awards. "Our democratic society will only work if we have an informed electorate.”
A role model
OU President David Boren said Lehrer is one of the nation’s most respected journalists and a role model to students attending the luncheon.
"There could not be a more appropriate first recipient of the Gaylord Prize,” he said.
Lehrer also authored a series of novels about a fictional lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, with some scenes set at the state Capitol and the Skirvin Hotel. The most recent installment, "Mack to the Rescue,” was released in April by the OU Press. Lehrer was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1934, but his mother was born near Atoka.
Lehrer was OU’s commencement speaker in 1996; also that year, OU conferred upon him its highest honor, the honorary doctor of humane letters.