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25th Annual Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Awards Dinner Gives Hope for Future of Journalism

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“Encouraging,” “inspirational,” “giving hope for the future” –  these were the words ringing throughout the Metropolitan Club of New York as we concluded the 25th Annual Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Awards Dinner on Sept. 27, 2018.

WATCH A VIDEO OF THE FULL 25TH ANNUAL NOVAK DINNER

It was indeed an uplifting event – celebrating our 2018 Fellows, honoring the life of the late Joseph Rago and recognizing the outstanding reporters who have paved the way for the next generation of journalists. The more than 200 guests were a veritable who’s who of the national media, including representatives from The Wall Street Journal, Reason magazine, Dow Jones, CBS, The Weekly Standard, National Review, American Spectator, the American Conservative magazine, The Daily Signal and more.

Honoring the Legacy of Joseph Rago

2018 Novak Dinner photo of Paul Rago
Paul Rago provides remarks about his late son Joe, the namesake of the newly-established Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism.

The evening officially announced the launch of an exciting new program — the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism — and introduced Elliot Kaufman (Rago 18) as the first Fellow selected. Kaufman graduated in June from Stanford University where he majored in political science and minored in history. This summer, he was a Robert L. Bartley Fellow at The Wall Street Journal.

The fellowship is named in memory of Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer Joseph Rago, who was a rising star at The Wall Street Journal as a key member of its editorial page team. Tragically, he passed away last year at the age of 34 from a rare medical condition he was unaware he had.

Nearly anyone can capture society’s attention, but it’s far more difficult to capture their imagination. Joe captured their imagination. He made the complex understandable. He presented arguments with an uncommon clarity guided by principle, and with a much-appreciated wit.” – Paul Rago, Father of Joseph Rago

Joe’s father Paul and his former editor Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal gave stirring remarks reflecting on the tremendous accomplishments of Joe’s career and his lasting legacy.

“Nearly anyone can capture society’s attention, but it’s far more difficult to capture their imagination. Joe captured their imagination,” said Paul Rago. “He made the complex understandable. He presented arguments with an uncommon clarity guided by principle, and with a much-appreciated wit.”

TFAS is honored to have been chosen by Joe’s parents, Paul and Nancy Rago, with the endorsement of the Journalto develop and administer the program in tribute to him and to help identify and credential outstanding young journalists of the highest caliber.

“We hope this fellowship will serve as a permanent remembrance of Joe’s contributions, his unrealized potential and as a celebration of the ideals he embraced,” said Paul Rago.

Elliot and future Rago Fellows will serve with the Journal’s editorial team in a year-long internship. Rago Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in educational and professional programs alongside the TFAS Novak Journalism Fellows. To learn more about the Rago Fellows program, visit www.TFAS.org/Rago.

Presenting the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Awards

The dinner also showcased the writing projects of our 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Award Recipients. For a quarter-century, the Novak Fellowship program has fostered the careers of outstanding journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, editors of national magazines and authors of best-selling books.

2018 Novak Dinner photo of Robert Novak Fellows
2018 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipients, from left: Joel Pollak, Kari Lynn Travis, Kenneth R. Rosen, Curt Mills, Leah Libresco Sargeant, Christine Emba and Tim Alberta.

Continuing that tradition, seven 2018 Novak Fellows took to the stage during the annual dinner to present their year-long writing projects and thank attendees for the rare opportunity to conduct in-depth research and reporting on their selected topics.

“I want to say deeply and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who is here tonight and to everyone from The Fund for American Studies for providing this amazing fellowship for journalists like me to do our projects and hopefully contribute something to the world,” said 2018 Novak Fellow Kari L. Travis (IPJ 12, Novak 18).

This year’s honored Fellows include: Tim Alberta (Novak 18) of Politico Magazine, Christine Emba (Novak 18) of The Washington Post, Curt Mills (Novak 18) of The National Interest, Kenneth R. Rosen (Novak 18) of The New York Times, author Leah Libresco Sargeant (Novak 18) and Kari L. Travis (IPJ 12, Novak 18) of Carolina Journal. Joel B. Pollak (Novak 18) of Breitbart News was also presented as the 2018 Alumni Fund Fellowship recipient. To read about each fellow and their chosen topics, visit www.TFAS.org/NovakFellows18

Prior to dinner, Fellows past and present had the opportunity to connect with one another during a private, Fellows-only briefing at The Wall Street Journal headquarters. There, they were treated to remarks by Journal deputy editor Daniel Henninger.

The fellowships are named in honor of Robert D. Novak, longtime columnist, CNN broadcaster and reporter for the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. Since its founding, the program has funded more than 140 journalists to undertake long-form writing projects that they would otherwise not have the resources to complete. To learn more about the Novak Fellows program, visit www.TFAS.org/Novak.

Recognizing P.J. O’Rourke with Phillips Career Achievement Award

2018 Novak Dinner photo of P.J. O'Rourke and Andrew Ferguson
Andrew Ferguson, national correspondent at The Weekly Standard, presents best-selling author P.J. O’Rourke with the 2018 Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of journalism.

Humorist and best-selling author P.J. O’Rourke brought levity to today’s overly politicized society as he accepted the evening’s Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award.

Comparing politics to an “obese, operatic performer, warbling so loudly that none of us bit players can be heard,” O’Rourke lamented that the rest of us have been “shoved into the orchestra pit of angry partisanship.”

The award was presented to O’Rourke by Andrew Ferguson, national correspondent at The Weekly Standard and a 2016 Phillips Award recipient, who commended his longtime friend for his incredible range and ability to put himself into everything he writes.

The Phillips Award is named for retired publishing entrepreneur and TFAS Trustee Emeritus Tom Phillips, whose Phillips Foundation was the original home of the Novak program until it was transferred to TFAS in 2013.

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