Kevin Rothstein and Mike Beaudet, of WCVB-TV in Boston, are the 2017 recipients of the Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. This year was the 20th anniversary of the award, which is intended to highlight good reporting on a topic when sentimentality and unquestioned assumptions are the norm.
Transcript of the award ceremony: http://cis.org/Transcripts/2017-Katz-Award
Video of the award ceremony: http://cis.org/Videos/2017-Katz-Award
The keynote speaker at the award luncheon in Washington, D.C., was Barbara Gonzalez, Acting Assistant Director of Stakeholder Engagement at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and head of ICE's new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office. Gonzalez, a longtime press contact for the agency, acknowledged the difficulty journalists face in writing about a "complex, nuanced, and emotional" issue like immigration. But she emphasized the need to get the story right, "because journalists are reporting on laws and policies that impact millions of people, because what they write matters, because what they write can influence people's opinions, but, more importantly, because what they write can save lives."
The Center honored Rothstein and Beaudet for the many major immigration stories they have broken (both at WCVB-TV and earlier at WFXT-TV, also in Boston), often resulting in changes in state and federal policies. Rothstein commented on the obstacles facing reporters: "One of the biggest issues facing journalism ... is sometimes penetrating the incredibly closed nature of our state governments, our local governments, sometimes the federal government, and certainly immigration is no different than any other topic in that regard."
Rothstein attributed his and Beaudet's success in covering immigration to their unbiased coverage. As Rothstein pointed out, "we just follow the story wherever it goes. We don't have an agenda, we don't have professional opinions on immigration. We try very hard to keep those out of the stories. We’ve included immigrants' voices, we've included advocates for immigration. In our stories, we've interviewed victims of abuse of employees. So to my mind, anyway, we've covered things fairly and with some balance."
The honorees have reported on a range of immigration topics, including, among others: a Massachusetts policy that enabled unlicensed illegal immigrants to register vehicles, enabling them to drive under the radar of authorities; then-Gov. Deval Patrick's blocking implementation of the Secure Communities program, that identified deportable aliens among those arrested and booked by local police; and a Cambodian gang member convicted of murder and then released back to the community because Cambodia would not take him back. More recently, the team broke a story on illegal-alien drug dealers from the Dominican Republic who used Puerto Rican identities to obtain licenses and access welfare benefits in New England.
The Katz Award was inaugurated in 1997 not to promote any particular view on immigration policy but to highlight good reporting in a field where so much of the coverage is marred by an unusual degree of bias. It is named in memory of Eugene Katz, a native New Yorker who, after attending Dartmouth and Oxford, started his career as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. In 1928, he joined the family business, working as an advertising salesman for the Katz Agency, and in 1952 became president of Katz Communications, a half-billion-dollar firm which not only dealt in radio and television advertising but also owned and managed a number of radio stations. Mr. Katz was a member of the Center for Immigration Studies board until shortly after his 90th birthday in 1997. He passed away in 2000.