On April 20, 2017, the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence was honored by the attendance of guests Lester Holt (NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt) and Ben Welsh (The Los Angeles Times and a DePaul alumnus), who were in town to receive awards from the DePaul University for work that embodies the highest principles of journalism, including truth, accuracy, fairness and context.
Both journalists have roots in Chicago. Holt worked for 14 years at WBBM-TV in Chicago as a reporter and anchor. Welsh earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from DePaul, where he studied with investigative journalists Carol Marin and Don Moseley, co-directors of the Center in DePaul’s College of Communication.
Holt brings ‘dignity, authority’ to profession
Lester Holt, Recipient of the Distinguished Journalist Award
“Lester Holt's career is the embodiment of journalistic excellence,” said Marin, co-director of the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence and political editor at NBC 5 Chicago. “He has devoted years of shoe leather to reporting the news in Chicago, and at the national and international level. He brings insight, dignity and authority to NBC News and to our profession,” Marin said.
Holt was named anchor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” in June 2015, after eight years as anchor of "NBC Nightly News" weekend editions and 12 years as co-anchor of "Weekend TODAY." In addition, Holt has served as principal anchor of "Dateline NBC" since September 2011.
During the 2016 presidential race, Holt received praise for his work moderating the first presidential debate, which was the most-watched in U.S. history. He is known for his work in the field, reporting and anchoring from breaking news events across the world. Holt reported from Brussels, Paris and Nice, France, on terrorist attacks that took place in Europe in 2015 and 2016.
His field reporting often focuses on people directly affected by the biggest stories of the day. In January 2017, Holt traveled across the U.S. on the road to Washington, D.C., for the week leading up to the presidential inauguration, talking with Americans about the nation’s most pressing issues.
For “Dateline NBC,” Holt has anchored numerous specials and investigative reports, including “Breathless,” a story of injustice that examined the connection between childhood asthma and poverty in America. Holt also anchored “Conviction,” a “Dateline” special a decade in the making that examined the case of convicted murderer Jon-Adrian Velazquez, and reported on the aftermath of the Great Recession as part of the “American Now” documentary series.
Welsh brings ‘piercing intelligence’ to data journalism
Ben Welsh, Recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award
“Lester Holt and Ben Welsh are great role models,” said Moseley, co-director of the center. “Just like our students at the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence, they’ve taken the Brown Line, they know the city inside and out, and strive to achieve the highest forms of journalism and ethics,” said Moseley.
Marin and Moseley have been mentoring DePaul journalism students since 2003. Welsh was one of their first interns on the DePaul Documentary Project.
“From his time as a DePaul student to today at the L.A. Times, Ben has been a quiet star. Versatile in his interests, he can write and report on anything, anywhere with a piercing intelligence,” said Marin.
As editor of the Data Desk, Welsh leads a team of reporters and programmers in the Los Angeles Times newsroom to collect, analyze and present large amounts of information. He worked on the team that earned the Times staff a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting in 2016 for coverage of the shooting in San Bernardino and the terror investigation that followed.
Welsh is a co-founder of the California Civic Data Coalition, an open-source network of developers working to open up public data, and the creator of PastPages, an archive dedicated to the preservation of online news. He previously worked on investigative projects at the Center for Public Integrity and has helped produce documentaries for cable channels including CNN. Originally from Swisher, Iowa, Welsh graduated from DePaul in 2004.
Since then, Marin and Moseley have worked with more than 50 interns at DePaul, teaching them how to report and produce investigative journalism. In 2016, DePaul established the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence in the College of Communication at DePaul to provide students with more opportunities to gain real-world experience.
“The Center symbolizes DePaul University’s commitment to the highest standards of journalism,” said Salma Ghanem, dean of the college. “Lester Holt and Ben Welsh exemplify these standards and set the bar for the next generation of journalists.”