FOR RELEASE: September 12, 2022

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute

Vienna, Va., September 12, 2022 – A veteran television journalist and an accomplished leader in public broadcasting will present awards at The Media Institute’s “Free Speech America” Virtual Gala on Oct. 19.

NBC News correspondent Harry Smith will present the Freedom of Speech Award to Lester Holt, anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” and anchor of “Dateline NBC.”

Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), will present the American Horizon Award to renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

Harry Smith, one of television’s most distinguished journalists, has interviewed a who’s who of world leaders during a storied career spanning more than 30 years.  He has reported on wars, revolutions, and disasters from around the globe, earning numerous Emmys and other prestigious journalism awards.

Patrick Butler has headed APTS, a nonprofit organization of public TV stations, since 2011.  He spent 18 years as senior vice president of The Washington Post Company, and earlier served as special assistant to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker, Jr., and in the White House with Presidents Ford and Reagan.

Lester Holt also leads NBC News special reports, breaking news, and primetime political coverage.  He has spent four decades in journalism.  Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 40 years.  His films have won 16 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations.

FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington will be the evening’s Featured Speaker.  He was confirmed to his FCC post by the U.S. Senate in 2020.  Previously, he was a senior advisor at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA).

The “Free Speech America” Gala will take place in virtual format again this year on Oct. 19.  The master of ceremonies will be communications attorney and former FCC chairman Richard E. Wiley, who serves as Chairman of the Board of The Media Institute.  The Gala will be the Institute’s signature event marking Free Speech Week, Oct. 17-23.

The Freedom of Speech Award recognizes an individual who has worked to advance free speech, a free press, and the First Amendment.  The American Horizon Award recognizes an individual for visionary leadership in the communications industry.

Information about sponsorship opportunities and benefits can be found on The Media Institute’s website at

The Media Institute is a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment.  Visit the Institute online at

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