For her reporting on politics and civil rights, journalist Yamiche Alcindor will receive the 2022 Zenger Award for Press Freedom from the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
Alcindor, who is the Washington correspondent for NBC News and host of "Washington Week" for PBS, will be honored Wednesday, November 16 at a gala dinner at the Tucson Marriott University Park.
The Zenger Award, given by the University of Arizona journalism program since 1954, honors those who fight for freedom of the press and the people’s right to know. The last two recipients were the Committee to Protect Journalists and Christiane Amanpour of CNN.
Alcindor worked at The New York Times, USA Today and Newsday before joining PBS “NewsHour” to cover the White House, where she regularly asked former President Donald Trump tough questions. She now covers the Biden administration for NBC News and moderates “Washington Week,” a Peabody Award-winning weekly news analysis series that broadcasts live each Friday on PBS stations nationwide.
She covers a range of issues, including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, police involved killings, systemic racism and immigration. During the 2020 presidential election season, Alcindor was a moderator for the sixth Democratic primary debate.
“Her extensive reporting on the impact of policies on diverse communities is so impressive,” said Professor Jessica Retis, new director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism. “Her efforts in investigating issues at the intersection of race and politics exemplifies the essence of the Zenger Award.”
Alcindor earned the respect of journalists worldwide in November 2018 when she asked Trump a question about his support for nationalism, “which some people saw as emboldening white nationalism,” she said. Trump told her, “That’s such a racist question.” He claimed to have “high poll numbers” and angrily pointed his finger at Alcindor and said her question was “insulting” and “terrible.”
“I tried to stay calm and stay focused in that moment on my purpose,” Alcindor told students at Vermont’s Middlebury College in 2019. “I was steadied by all the people that I ask questions for. ... We have to be in a place where we are continuously pushing this president on the facts. …
“I am someone who really believes that if we are doing our role, then the politicians will feel a little bit uncomfortable and on edge because we are asking questions that are really going to make them think.”
As the anchor of PBS’ “Washington Week,” she leads the only primetime public affairs show on broadcast television.
“I’m very proud of the fact that as a black woman doing this job, not every show, not every story is going to be about race and about culture, but that I’ve been able to really also dig into those things,” Alcindor told AdWeek. “We did a whole ‘Extra’ on the Emmett Till Lynching Act. When after hundreds of years, our country finally said lynching someone because of the color of their skin is a federal crime.
“That to me is something that I think I’m particularly proud of at ‘Washington Week,’ that we not only have a diverse cast of reporters, but also the things that that are important to me as a reporter who’s covered civil rights and politics that those things can also make their way on the show.”
Alcindor is the recipient of multiple awards for her work, including the 2020 Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage from the White House Correspondents’ Association and the 2020 Gwen Ifill Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was named the organization’s 2020 Journalist of the Year.
Alcindor was born in Miami to Haitian parents. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University. In 2015, she received a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University.