GUEST BLOG / By Melinda Cooke Vandaveer, Writer, National Press Club--Amanda Bennett, best known for her award-winning leadership in investigative reporting at The Wall Street Journal, The Oregonian and Bloomberg News will receive the National Press Club's most esteemed prize, the Fourth Estate Award, at a Club gala in her honor on Oct. 17.
Bennett is the 47th recipient of the award, which recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field.
"Amanda is an exceptional journalist and has enjoyed an enviable career managing some of the most respected newsrooms in the country," said Club President Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak. "But what I have always admired most about Amanda is her commitment to mentoring and empowering other journalists to do their very best work. On Oct. 17, we look forward to honoring Amanda not only for her own award-winning reporting but also for her staunch stewardship of the journalism industry and the integrity of our profession."
The Fourth Estate Award is the top honor bestowed on a journalist by the Club's board of governors. Previous winners include Marty Baron, Dean Baquet, Wolf Blitzer, Gwen Ifill, Andrea Mitchell, Bob Woodward, Jim Lehrer, Walter Cronkite, Christiane Amanpour and David Broder.
The gala dinner is a fundraiser for the Club's nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, which advocates for press freedom worldwide, equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement and provides scholarships to aspiring journalists.
Bennett's more than 40-year career in journalism began as an undergrad student at Harvard, where she was an editor at the Harvard Crimson. Shortly after her graduation in 1975, Bennett embarked on a 23-year career with The Wall Street Journal.
While at the Journal, Bennett covered a wide range of beats including the auto industry, the Pentagon and State Department, national economics, and China as the paper's second-ever Beijing correspondent. In 1987, Bennett won her first Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, sharing it with her Journal colleagues for their coverage of the AIDS epidemic.
Eventually rising to the rank of Atlanta bureau chief, Bennett left the Journal in 1998 to become the managing editor of The Oregonian, where she led the investigation into the Immigration and Naturalization Service that won the paper the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
Bennett became editor of The Lexington Herald-Leader in 2001, and in 2003 was named editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the first female editor in the 174-year history of the paper.
From 2006-2013 Bennett served as executive editor of Bloomberg News, where she co-founded its Women's Project, and led a global team of investigative reporters and editors that won numerous awards under her direction, including two Polk Awards – one for the newsroom's leading role in the fight for bailout transparency from the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board in 2009, and another in 2012 for the team's investigation into the financial assets of family members of China's then-Vice President Xi Jinping. Bennett was named director of the Voice of America in March 2016.