The Mirror Awards, handed out today by the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, honored journalistic work including investigations by the New York Times, New Yorker and Washington Post that focused on Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose.
The lunchtime awards gala at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street, which also featured special honors for National Public Radio, HBO’s Sheila Nevins and 60 Minutes, put a spotlight on the still-evolving arena of the #MeToo movement. Media companies are grappling with overhauling the cultures of their companies even while covering the industry’s errant ways.
One award recipient in particular gave a speech that drew some cheers and sustained murmurs throughout the cavernous, 98-year-old former Bowery Bank building. Irin Carmon, a Washington Post writer who was cited along with Amy Brittain for Best Story on Sexual Misconduct in the Media Industry, aimed to put the events of 2017 and 2018 in a broader context.
“There’s a temptation to think the last few months have been about individual men, that it was about a handful of bad apples and if we get rid of them it will end the cycle of harassment and abuse. But it’s not true,” Carmon said. “The stories that we have been doing are about a system. The system has lawyers and a good reputation. It has publicists. It has a perfectly reasonable explanation about what happened. It has powerful friends that will ask if it’s really worth ruining the career of a good man based on what one women says, what four women say, what 35 women say. Indeed, the system is sitting in this room. Some more than others. The system is still powerful men getting stories killed that I believe will one day see the light of day.”
Rose in recent years had a prominent role on CBS, including as a contributor to 60 Minutes. With the news magazine getting a special honor, Carmon’s speech was delivered to an audience that included several employees from the show.
She noted that it took seven years from when she heard the first tip about Rose’s sexual misconduct and harassment to when the Post story was published. (Inadvertently helping to drive home Carmon’s point was the use of 1980s pop tune “She Drives Me Crazy” as the walk-up music in the event hall as the winners of the best sexual misconduct story award took the stage.)
The New Yorker and New York Times tied in the in-depth/enterprise category for their Weinstein pieces. Jim Rutenberg of the Times (also a winner for Best Single Article for a Times magazine piece on Russian TV network RT), said during the group acceptance speech that the dual award “shows that competition sometimes can be healthy.” He also saluted colleague Emily Steel’s stories about ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, which he said showed that “these stories don’t have to be he-said, she-said.”
60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, accepting the special recognition after a sizzle reel honoring the show’s 60th anniversary, noted that the show had a cumulative audience of more than 100 million people last season, per Nielsen. That put it more than 20 million viewers ahead of the No. 2 most-watched show, The Voice, he said. “We’ve changed over the years,” he said. “We’ve evolved with the times. But we have not changed our values. That’s what has made us successful.”
Accepting the Fred Dressler Leadership Award for her epic run spearheading documentaries at HBO until last year, Nevins gave a brief but characteristically gimlet-eyed speech. Signaling her plan to “talk about ageism and then we’ll get out of here,” she ended by giving out her phone number and thanking the crowd for “the support.”
“I am, quote, ‘retired,’ and I thought that would be a good thing,” Nevins said. “I looked it up, and it said that I would be able to do all of the things I had never been able to do. Well, I’ve been able, through work, to do everything I have wanted to do. … Ageism should be a new frontier for some of us. Come on! We can think. I may not know your name, but I know what you are about.”
The other competitive awards went to Lois Parshley of Pacific Standard magazine, Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty of Politico, Amanda Robb from Rolling Stone in co-operation with three not-for-profit collaborators.