2016 Toner Prize Celebration with President Obama

2016 Toner Prize Celebration with President Barack Obama

March 28, 2016

Washington, D.C. 

LARRY KRAMER: Okay everybody, I’m back. I’m sorry I was rude last time – I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Larry Kramer, I’m one of the trustees at Syracuse University, I’m a former Newhouse student and most recently was the publisher and president of USA Today.

That still, however, hasn’t provided me with enough light to read my notes so I’m using this. The Toner event’s grown every year since its arrival in Washington. Thanks primarily to three things: the immense generosity of the program’s supporters, the measure of people’s concern about the state of journalism, and a show of affection for Robin. So we’re all excited to be here again about this. I’m truly really honored to get things rolling tonight by introducing my very dear friend, a woman who inspired students and the staff of the Newhouse School of Public Communications since 2008 as our fearless leader, distinguished journalist, and a very dear friend of mine, Dean Lorraine Branham of the Newhouse School.

LORRAINE BRANHAM: This mood lighting is lovely, but it makes it hard to see up here. Good evening everyone and on behalf of the Newhouse School and Syracuse University, welcome. We’re so delighted you could be here with us tonight. I know you’re anxious to get to our keynote speaker, but I would me remiss if I didn’t take a moment to congratulate the Syracuse Men and Women’s Basketball team. (applause)

Yes, indeed, we’re going to the Final Four. Okay, now back to the business at hand. Chancellor Syverud, members of the Board of Trustees and our other distinguished guests, thank you for joining us for the annual Robin Toner Awards ceremony. Most of you know that the Toner Prize was created to honor the late Robin Toner, a Newhouse alumna who was the first woman national political correspondent for The New York Times. Every year, we gather to award the Toner Prize to an outstanding political reporter and celebrate the importance of high-quality, fact-based political journalism, the kind for which Robin was known. And in this political year, perhaps the craziest political year any of us have ever seen, we’re reminded on a daily basis not only of the importance of this kind of work, but also of the critical need for it. Now perhaps more than ever before, we need rigorous and relentless political journalism. We need journalism that educates and informs. We need thoughtful analysis. We need journalism that serves democracy.

The work of tonight’s honoree, who you will meet shortly, exemplifies that kind of journalism. I think robin would be pleased. Before I turn over the microphone, I’d like to thank some of our friends and supporters, starting with Syracuse University trustee John Chapple, whose initial gift helped to launch the Toner endowment. The Toner Program would not exist were it not for him. I also have to thank SU trustee Larry Kramer, who you just met, who has supported the program financially and also by emceeing tonight. I’m also delighted to recognize a three-year financial commitment by The New York Times, where Robin worked for a quarter of a century, as well as the extraordinary support