Fourth Estate Award Gala honors Clarissa Ward, Rana Ayyub, Josh Renaud, and PBS FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative

The 2022 Fourth Estate Award Gala took place in the National Press Club ballroom on Dec. 7, 2022, bringing together journalists, communicators, and supporters from around the world to recognize excellence in a year of extraordinary challenges.

The evening honored:

  • Clarissa Ward, CNN chief international correspondent, Fourth Estate Award
  • Rana Ayyub, an investigative journalist living in India and a Washington Post Global Opinions contributor, John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award (international)
  • Josh Renaud, journalist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award (domestic)
  • PBS FRONTLINE, Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism

You can learn more about the program in this visual guide, which includes information about the evening, honorees, and sponsors. The gala is a fundraiser supporting the National Press Club Journalism Institute, whose work powers journalism in the public interest. You can donate here to support the Institute’s work.

Meet the honorees

Fourth Estate Award

The Fourth Estate Award is the top honor bestowed on a journalist by the National Press Club Board of Governors. Previous winners include: Christiane Amanpour, Wolf Blitzer, Lester Holt, Susan Zirinsky, Dean Baquet, Marty Baron, Gwen Ifill, Andrea Mitchell, Tom Brokaw, and Walter Cronkite. 

Clarissa Ward, CNN’s multi-award winning chief international correspondent based in London, received the National Press Club’s most esteemed prize, the Fourth Estate Award. The award recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field.

Ward has spent nearly two decades reporting from the front lines in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Ukraine for CNN, ABC, CBS, and Fox News. 

“I am incredibly honored to receive this esteemed award from the National Press Club at a time when the fourth estate is facing unprecedented threats around the world. From harassment and intimidation to imprisonment and violence, journalists put their lives on the line to challenge and question those in power,” Ward said. “The National Press Club has long been a leading supporter of press freedom, and I’m thrilled by this recognition.”

Ward is a recipient of multiple journalism honors, including nine Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, and one George Polk Award. She also authored “On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist,” which details her singular career as a conflict reporter and how she has documented the violent remaking of the world from close range.

Known for her in-depth investigations and high-profile assignments, Ward and her team were the first foreign journalists permitted to enter Myanmar nearly two months after a military coup in 2021. She has since reported from Afghanistan in the weeks leading up to and after the fall of Kabul and most recently from Ukraine, where she has spent more than 10 weeks this year covering the ongoing Russian invasion.

In late 2020, Ward led the two-time Emmy Award-winning investigation of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s poisoning, even confronting a suspected member of the elite Russian toxins team at his home outside Moscow.

In 2019, her months-long, Emmy Award-winning investigation into Russia’s growing use of mercenaries – Putin’s Private Army – included the first on-camera interview with a former fighter for Wagner, Russia’s most notorious private military contractor. After visiting a diamond mine with ties to a Russian oligarch in the Central African Republic, Ward and her team were followed and intimidated by a car full of Russians. After their reports came out, they were targeted by a Russian media propaganda campaign trying to discredit their reporting.

Ward has reported extensively in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, with multiple undercover assignments in the country. As one of the last Western reporters to visit rebel-held Aleppo, Ward was asked to address a UN Security Council meeting on the embattled Syrian city in 2016, stating, “There are no winners in Aleppo.”

She has conducted many interviews with world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former CIA Director and retired US Army Gen. David Petraeus.

Ward graduated with distinction from Yale University, and in 2013 received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. She speaks fluent French and Italian, conversational Russian, Arabic, Spanish, and basic Mandarin. Watch Ward’s remarks.

John Aubuchon Press Freedom Awards

Named for a former Club president who fervently advocated for press freedom, this award is given each year to one journalist in the United States and one journalist overseas who bravely pushes to disclose the truth in trying circumstances.

The 2022 Aubuchon honorees are Rana Ayyub (international) and Josh Renaud (domestic).

Rana Ayyub is an investigative journalist living in India and a Washington Post Global Opinions contributor whose criticism of the government has been met with an unwelcome assault on her rights and freedom of expression. The Indian government has made burdensome and invasive requests for Ayyub’s personal financial information, along with restricting her travel in and out of the country and freezing her assets on dubious charges. It appears at least some of this harassment is being initiated and supported by the government. Watch Ayyub’s remarks.

Josh Renaud is a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who was threatened by the Missouri governor with criminal charges for uncovering a security flaw in a state database that left the Social Security numbers of public educators exposed. His diligence led to the security flaw being corrected but also drew scorn and threats from Gov. Mike Parson, who announced a criminal investigation into Renaud’s work and called his public service reporting “a hack” and accused the Post-Dispatch of having a vendetta against him. No charges were filed; in fact, Renaud had alerted Missouri public education officials to the security flaw in advance of story publication and agreed to hold the story until officials had time to fix it. Watch Renaud’s remarks.

Neil & Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism

This award recognizes work that best reflects the Sheehans’ extraordinary commitment to the principle that a vibrant democracy depends on an informed citizenry and a free press.

PBS FRONTLINE has long been recognized with journalism’s highest honors for its exceptional news and documentary programs. The Sheehan award honors FRONTLINE for its Local Journalism Initiative, in particular. The Initiative supports investigative journalism done by local and regional news organizations by providing funding, editorial support, and strategic guidance. This year, the Tampa Bay Times was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a project supported by FRONTLINE. Watch PBS FRONTLINE’s Raney Aronson and Erin Texeira accept the award.

Photos from the gala

All photos by Melissa Lyttle and Lexey Swall

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About the National Press Club

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major journalism organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the United States and around the world.

About the National Press Club Journalism Institute

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. As the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, the Institute powers journalism in the public interest.

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