There were a lot of tears at a dinner in Washington Wednesday night as ABC World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff was named the recipient of the Radio & Television Correspondents Association David Bloom award for excellence in enterprise reporting.
Following a salute to the late ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings, ABC Chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz accepted the award for Woodruff, vowing to keep it together--Woodruff had asked her not to cry, she said--and succeeding as she read a statement from Woodruff.
Adding to the emotional tenor was Bloom's twin 12-year-old daughters, who gave out the award with a poise that belied their years. "We love him very much and we miss him," they said of their father, who died while reporting from Iraq three years ago. "But tonight, we are not just thinking about our dad," they said. "We are also thinking about the other soldiers and journalists who have and are risking their lives throughout the world. We keep them all in our thoughts and prayers."
RTCA also raised a toast to the journalists who had lost their life in the line of duty over the past year.
Although Woodruff, a close friend of the Bloom family, was seriously wounded in Iraq earlier this year, RTCA said "sentimentality played no role in the judging of the competition." In fact, his Iraq reporting did not figure into the award, they said. Instead it was for his "fearless enterprise reporting" from South Korean and Iran, as well as Katrina coverage. CNN's Jean Meserve was also singled out for her Katrina reporting.
The Woodruff statement read:
"I am so honored to accept the David Bloom award not only because David was a true friend and colleague and because of what the award means.
David was so many things. An avid competitor on the tennis courts as well as a worthy [journalistic] competitor. He had an enthusiasm for every story that was infectious. He also loved his family fiercely... I wish that I were here in person to accept this award and give [Bloom's daughters] a giant hug all the way to the sky, just like we always do. I am so honored that you have adopted me into your family as a surrogate uncle. We'll be jumping on the trampoline again, I promise.
"One thing that David and I shared was the belief that in order to really cover a story we need to be out in the field. You need to talk to the men and women who are shaping the story or are part of the events unfolding.
"Daivd and I remarked all the time that we could not beleive that somebody would actually pay us to do this job.I know so many of you in this room share that sentiment and I am honored to be counted among you as a colleague....
"Though I am the person that the audience sees, now and always, I want to underscore that I am just one of a team [he praised that team for helping save his life and always watching his back].
"My entire focus is on my family and my recovery and getting back to doing the job I so love. But please invite me back next year.I'd love to raise a glass with you all."
Raddatz added a postscript of thanks from Woodruff to the U.S. military personnel who helped save his life by getting him out or Iraq and those who treated him at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
There were plenty of military in the audience, from captains and generals all the way up to the Secretary of Defense.