2021 Fourth Estate Award Gala honoring Lester Holt

NBC News’ Lester Holt, whose seasoned career in journalism over four decades and role as anchor of “NBC Nightly News” has earned him the title as most-trusted anchor in America, will receive the National Press Club’s most esteemed prize, the Fourth Estate Award, at a gala in his honor on Oct. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Holt will be the 49th recipient of the Fourth Estate Award, which recognizes journalists who have made significant contributions to the field. Previous winners include Susan Zirinsky, Marty Baron, Dean Baquet, Wolf Blitzer, Gwen Ifill, Andrea Mitchell, Amanda Bennett, Walter Cronkite, Christiane Amanpour, and many others

The 2021 Fourth Estate Award Gala will occur in two parts, with the presentation of the National Press Club’s press freedom and investigative journalism awards during a virtual celebration and an in-person celebration of Lester Holt live at the National Press Club.

The 2021 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award will recognize Haze Fan, a Chinese citizen who has been detained in Beijing while working for Bloomberg, as the international honoree and Danny Fenster, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar who has been jailed in Myanmar since May 24, as the domestic honoree. 

The Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism honoree will be announced soon. 

The Fourth Estate Award Gala schedule and ticket information is below.

6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Virtual ballroom opens for mingling and the presentation of the John Aubuchon Press Freedom awards and the Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for Investigative Journalism
7:30 p.m.: National Press Club ballroom opens and dinner service begins for in-person guests at the Club
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Fourth Estate Award presentation and program begins in person at the National Press Club
9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Afterparty at the National Press Club for in-person guests 

The fundraiser, attended by hundreds of members, guests, and media luminaries, raises the majority of the operating expenses for the Club’s nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute. The Institute advocates for press freedom worldwide, equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement, and provides scholarships to aspiring journalists.

About the virtual gala

Tickets to the virtual portion of the Fourth Estate Gala are $25 per household. 

The gala will take place using a virtual networking platform that will allow guests to table hop and mingle with their friends and colleagues before the program, and chat throughout the award ceremony at their virtual tables. We’re encouraging all guests to have their cameras and mics on during the event for the full experience.

Doors will open virtually at 5:30 p.m.; and the program will start at 6 p.m. and last until 7 p.m. Ticket-holders will receive their log-in information, as well as tips for having a great experience, via email the week prior to the event. 

About the in-person gala 

Tickets to the in-person gala at the National Press Club are: 

  • $100 for National Press Club members (maximum two per member)
  • $250 for the public (no maximum)

Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. for in-person Fourth Estate Gala guests to arrive at the National Press Club. Dinner service will begin soon after, with the program honoring Lester Holt beginning at 8 p.m. An Afterparty will take place immediately following the program. 

The National Press Club wants to ensure the evening is comfortable and safe for members, visitors, honorees, and our staff. Individuals attending the 2021 Fourth Estate Award Gala must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test prior entering the Club. Proof of vaccination can be uploaded in advance at www.press.org/vaxpass. A photo of your vaccination card can also be sent to [email protected] If you are a NPC member who has already taken this step you do not need to submit your vaccination record again. Proof of vaccination can be shown in-person at the door with either your physical card or a photo of the card on your mobile device. 

The Club will follow guidelines established by the District of Columbia, for the health and welfare of our attendees. Currently, guests must wear masks before entering the building, in the elevators, and during their time in the Club, unless they are actively involved in eating or drinking.

To explore sponsorship opportunities for the Fourth Estate event or for other questions, email Julie Moos, Executive Director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute at [email protected] Download the sponsorship opportunities here.

The evening promises to be one-of-a-kind, with special experiences planned for the virtual ballroom guests and the in-person ballroom patrons. 

About Lester Holt

Mr. Holt’s appearance promises to be inspiring. Holt is an award-winning journalist at NBC News. He serves as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” the network’s flagship broadcast, as well as the anchor of “Dateline NBC.” Holt also leads NBC News’ special reports, breaking news and primetime news coverage.

Holt was named “NBC Nightly News” anchor 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, and now also anchors “Nightly News Kids Edition,” a digital award-winning newscast aimed to inform and educate children, which he launched at the start of the pandemic in 2020. 

Known for his outstanding work in the field, as well as reporting and anchoring breaking news events across the globe, Holt has spent the past four decades in journalism. Most recently, he has been in Tokyo to cover the 2020 Olympic Games as the world was coming together for the first time since the global pandemic. Also, this year, Holt traveled to Geneva for President Biden and Russian President Putin’s in-person summit. Previously this year, he interviewed Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala in one of her most significant interviews since she took office and he anchored live from Surfside, Florida, following the deadly condo collapse.  

Last year, Holt anchored NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Presidential Election, including Election Night and the days following, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and the presidential debate and vice presidential debate. Holt also conducted the first interview with President Joe Biden following the election. In 2016, Holt was also selected to moderate the first presidential debate, which continues to hold the record as the most-watched debate in American history.  

Holt has distinguished himself as the leading broadcast journalist reporting on the criminal justice system and the efforts to reform it. For the “Justice for All” series he launched, Holt was embedded for three days inside the largest maximum-security prison, Angola, and also anchored the first televised town hall from a maximum-security prison, Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

Before becoming co-anchor of “Weekend TODAY” in 2003, Holt anchored MSNBC’s “Lester Holt Live” and served as a primary anchor for MSNBC’s coverage of major news events, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war in Afghanistan, as well as coverage of Decision 2000. Holt came to MSNBC after 14 years at WBBM-TV in Chicago. He began his television journalism career as a reporter at WCBS-TV in New York in 1981.

Holt has been recognized with numerous honors, including multiple Emmy Awards and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award. In 2021, he was honored with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement award. In 2019, he was honored with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and in 2017, he received the Quinnipiac University’s Fred Friendly First Amendment Award. In 2016, Holt was featured on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list and was named “Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists.

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