October 14, 2019

OPC Awards Dinner


by Sonya K. Fry

Plans for the OPC awards dinner are nearing completion. Judging panels are sending in the results, invitations are printed, Dateline magazine is being assembled and winners have been thrilled when they were notified that they have been chosen to receive an OPC award. This year’s Awards Dinner will be held again at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle in New York City on Wednesday, April 24. Circle that date on your calendars, enter it into your devices and plan to attend the OPC’s 74th gala. The Reception at 6 p.m. is sponsored for the second year by the computer company Lenovo. In addition to sponsoring this cocktail party Lenovo will give an Ideapad Yoga 13 to all the winners. The Reception area offers a spectacular setting from the 35th floor overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park.

Tom Brokaw, intrepid anchor of NBC News from 1982 to 2004, will be the recipient of the President’s Award. Brokaw spent his entire distinguished career with NBC News beginning in the Los Angeles bureau in 1966. Even in retirement he is still an NBC News Special Correspondent working on documentaries and adding his voice to conventions and election coverage. Brokaw’s first book was one of the most popular non-fiction books of the 20th century, The Greatest Generation, which chronicles the lives of men and women who came of age during the Great Depression, fought in WWII and then went on to build modern America. Brokaw has won many major journalism awards including Peabody, DuPonts, Emmys and now the OPC’s highest distinction.

Awards Presenters this year will be Richard Engel, NBC News’s chief foreign correspondent and Tom Gjelten, correspondent for National Public Radio. The OPC revised the number of award categories to 22, which is pared down from the 27 the previous year. A committee took a serious look at all the OPC awards this summer and made decisions with board approval on consolidating some categories with the goal of making the awards more inclusive to multimedia entries and timing of the dinner more manageable.

Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria on Thanksgiving day last year, will light the candle in memory of journalists who have died in the line of duty in 2012 and in honor of those injured, missing and abducted.

Bill Holstein is again the Awards Dinner Chairman and he is working on corporate tables to underpin the finances of the dinner and the OPC. Arlene Getz of Thomson Reuters is the Head Judge and has overseen panels of journalists to judge the work of their peers. Without judges who volunteer their time, energy and devotion to reading, listening, viewing, arguing and ultimately agreeing on a winner, there would be no OPC awards. Tim Ferguson is this year’s Editor of Dateline and Nancy Novick, designer of Dateline, is hard at work assembling the look of the magazine with striking photography. Louisa Kearney is the new Publisher of Dateline in charge of advertising for the magazine.

This year, the OPC webmistress Aimee Vitrak worked to put all of our award entries and nearly all of the materials associated with each entry online; the only category with hard-copy items are book entries. One of the results of the online-only system is that judges can be scattered all over the globe and still have access to the work entered. In years past, because of the logistics of getting hard copies to judges, most judges were located in the metro area.

Ticket prices for the awards are the same for the past few years: members and one guest pay $250 per ticket. Non-members pay $600 per ticket. Table prices range from Friend at $6,000, Sponsor at $9,000, Patron at $12,000 and Fellow at $15,000.