Public Radio News Directors Inc. presented its Leo C. Lee Award to former NPR producer Doug Mitchell. The award, which honors distinguished contributions to public radio journalism, recognized Mitchell’s work to “encourage young people – and particularly young people of color – to get into public radio,” PRNDI announced on its website.
Mitchell, who left NPR in lay-offs announced in December, is a 20-year veteran of NPR News, and he worked for over a decade to establish a public radio journalism program for young people. Through Next Generation Radio, as the training program was called, “Doug did what a trainer is supposed to do–encapsulate the best values of the organization and transmit them intact to a new generation,” wrote former NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, in a blog posting about the loss of present and future talent with Mitchell’s exit. “Using the metaphor of these days, he was a Moses to their Joshua.”
Mitchell recently explained his motivation in creating the program on Transom: “[F]or 15 of my 21.5 years at NPR, my version of teaching was giving back. That’s an old-school term meaning that at one point in my life someone helped me, and after a period of time, I ‘gave it back’ to someone else who needed help.”
The PRNDI award is named for the late Leo C. Lee, a newspaperman who became a western bureau chief for NPR and later founded Western States Public Radio. Lee also established a training program to prepare young journalists, including women and minorities, for careers in public radio. Previous award recipients include former NPR News chief Bill Buzenberg, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, longtime Marketplace executive producer Jim Russell, NPR investigative reporter Daniel Zwerdling, and producers David Isay and Ira Glass.