Fox News Is Scorned, and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Praised, At Media Awards

Seems there’s no way to avoid Fox News these days. Rolling Stone and New York Magazine have big stories about the network. And Fox was very much on the minds of the media elite who gathered in NYC today for the annual Mirror Awards, Syracuse University’s celebration of the year’s best reporting about the media. Eric Alterman, accepting the best commentary award for digital media, disturbed the air of industry self-congratulations by urging the audience to “stop treating Fox News as though it’s news. It’s not.” Applause was mixed with disapproving murmurs after he added that those who take Fox seriously “allow it to corrupt the news ecosystem.” The network was also central to the story that won the best single article award for traditional media, Gabriel Sherman’s “Chasing Fox” — a story for New York Magazine that examined how the News Corp-owned network has affected the journalism at CNN and MSNBC.

The most surprising winner was Milwaukee Magazine’s Mary Van de Kamp Nohl who won the best in-depth piece in traditional media. She showed how the publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel impoverished many of its employees by encouraging them to buy its stock — which lost nearly 98% of its value after the company went public in 2003. “They hired a PR director to handle me,” she said. “It’s a sad commentary on the priorities of this particular business.”

But moguls had nothing to fear at the gathering. The top honor, the Fred Dressler Achievement Award (named after Time Warner Cable’s former programming chief), went to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Liberty Media’s John Malone, former MTV Networks chief Judy McGrath, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, and NBCUniversal’s Steve Burke appeared in a taped piece praising Roberts. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes wryly noted that giving Roberts a journalism prize just after his company bought NBCUniversal “is like giving the Nobel prize for peace to the president of the United States in the middle of the first year of his first term.” Although Roberts was in Switzerland landing the Olympics, his father Ralph — Comcast’s founder — accepted the award saying that “Brian is proof that nepotism is a good thing.”

Other winners: include:

— Best Profile, digital media: Joel Meares, “The Biggest Fish In Albany” (Columbia Journalism Review).

— Best Profile, traditional media: Ken Auletta, “The Networker” (The New Yorker).

— Best Single Article, digital media: Jim Hopkins, “All Shook Up” (Gannett Blog).

— Best Commentary, traditional media: James Wolcott (Vanity Fair).

i3 Awardfor Impact, Innovation and Influence: Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Neveen Selvadural.


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