westin.jpg ABC News President David Westin received the First Amendment Leadership Award by the RTDNA (Radio TV Digital News Association) Thursday evening in Washington at the Ritz.

He spoke candidly of the importance of the First Amendment and of the trying times news organizations like ABC finds itself in today.

“In recent years we’ve seen pillars of our journalistic community go into bankruptcy,” Westin said. “We’ve seen our best institutions undergo cuts. And sometimes, wave after wave of cuts. People are asking whether some news organizations can survive at all. It’s against that backdrop that last week I announced a fundamental transformation of ABC News.”

He gave a serious shout out to D.C.-based correspondents.

“The First Amendment also asks that we employ beat reporters who develop their expertise and their sources over the years so that they can sort through the chaff and find and explain the kernel of wheat that no one else will find.

“Examples of these at ABC News right here in Washington are reporters like Martha Raddatz on foreign affairs and Jake Tapper on politics and the White House and Pierre Thomas on justice and Jonathon Karl on Capitol Hill and Lisa Stark on aviation and regulation and Terry Moran on the Supreme Court.”

Apart from Westin, award winners included: NBC’s Brian Williams, RTDNA President Emeritus Barbara Cochran, National Assoc. of Broadcasters Education Foundation President Marcellus Alexander, and Harvey Nagler, V.P. of CBS Radio News.

Too see all of the speeches from the dinner visit the RTDNA website here.

Read Westin’s full remarks after the jump…

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