Bill Whitaker, the veteran CBS newsman and “60 Minutes” correspondent, will be honored with the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) announced. Whitaker will receive the award at the RTDNF’s annual First Amendment Awards dinner on March 14 in Washington, D.C.
RTDNF presents this award annually to a radio or television journalist or news executive who has made a major contribution to the protection of First Amendment freedoms. It is named for the late Broadcasting & Cable senior correspondent, Leonard Zeidenberg.
Whitaker joins past CBS News Zeidenberg winners Walter Cronkite, Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Bob Schieffer and Cami McCormick, as well as other notable journalists who have won the award, including Diane Sawyer, Lester Holt and Judy Woodruff.
Whitaker has been wide-ranging and prolific in his “60 Minutes” reporting on domestic and international stories since joining the broadcast in 2014. He recently chronicled the vetting process for Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. He has reported from Asia, Africa, Europe, Mexico and the Middle East for the newsmagazine, including a timely interview with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and an Emmy-winning story on the biggest data leak in Swiss banking history. Domestically, his stories have provided keen insights into the hot-button issue of race and policing in America, the death penalty and America’s heroin epidemic. He has chronicled the epic battle to capture and hold Mexico’s infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, gaining rare access to investigations on both sides of the border.
Over more than 30 years with CBS News, Whitaker has covered three presidential campaigns, the O.J. Simpson case, and overseas wars and events, and he has interviewed several national figures, including First Lady Michelle Obama.
Whitaker began his career at CBS News in 1984 as a reporter based in Atlanta, where he covered the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis and received an Emmy for his reports on the collapse of Jim and Tammy Bakker’s television ministry. He then spent three years as a CBS News Tokyo correspondent, developing an impressive portfolio as a foreign correspondent. He covered stories throughout Asia, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square.
In 1992, Whitaker was sent to Los Angeles, where he reported for over 20 years on the CBS Evening News and other CBS News broadcasts, including “Sunday Morning.”