DEPAUL — Two Chicago-trained journalists return to town Thursday to be honored by DePaul University's Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence.
NBC News anchor Lester Holt and data journalist Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times, a DePaul alumnus, will receive awards Thursday in a private ceremony.
Holt worked a dozen years at WBBM-TV, the local CBS affiliate, before moving on to NBC. After working on "Weekend Today" and "Dateline NBC" and serving as weekend network news anchor, he ascended to the top anchor post with the "NBC Nightly News" two years ago. He moderated the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last fall.
"Lester Holt's career is the embodiment of journalistic excellence,” said Carol Marin, co-director of the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence and political editor at WMAQ-TV, the NBC affiliate in 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."
Welsh graduated from DePaul in 2004 and has since gone on to serve as editor of the Times' Data Desk, helping the staff win a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for coverage of the San Bernadino, Calif., shooting and the terrorism investigation that followed. He is co-founder of the California Civic Data Coalition, compiling and coordinating public information, and created PastPages, an archive that preserves online news.
"From his time as a DePaul student to today at the L.A. Times, Ben has been a quiet star," Marin said. "Versatile in his interests, he can write and report on anything, anywhere with a piercing intelligence."
"Lester Holt and Ben Welsh are great role models,” said Don Moseley, co-director of the center and Marin's longtime writer and producer. “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."
Welsh worked under Marin and Moseley as an intern with the DePaul Documentary Project in 2003. Marin and Moseley have been mentoring DePaul students ever since, but it was only last year that the university created the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence in the College of Communication and placed them at the helm.
"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."