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Ken Armstrong accepts the John Chancellor Award

“The only way I can get into Columbia is to be asked to speak,” joked NBC News correspondent Tom Brokaw as he kicked off the ceremony for the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism at Columbia’s Low Library last night.

Brokaw spoke about the award’s namesake, his former colleague John Chancellor, as well as the night’s award recipient, Ken Armstrong, an investigative journalist at The Seattle Times.

Columbia Journalism School Dean Nicholas Lemann also introduced a number of people who had worked with Armstrong over the years, including Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman and the publisher of Armstrong’s college paper, Pat Kuhnle. They all spoke highly of Armstrong, about his important investigative works including a series on the death penalty in Illinois while he was working for The Chicago Tribune.

“I am truly flattered,” Armstrong said, upon accepting the award. “The work I do isn’t always dramatic.”

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Tom Brokaw