WASHINGTON – After nearly 50 years in the news business, one of WTOP’s top newsmen got to take a bow in the Big Apple.
Jim Farley, WTOP’s vice president of news and programming, was awarded the 2012 Freedom of Speech Award on Thursday by Talkers, a leading publication serving the talk radio industry. It’s the 15th year the honor has been given.
Farley says he accepts the award “on behalf of the women and men in the WTOP newsroom who are the ones who do all the heavy lifting.”
At the awards ceremony, Harvey Nagler, vice president of CBS Radio News, noted Farley’s commitment to journalism’s core principles.
“He’s steeped in journalism and his journalistic ethics are unparalleled,” Nagler said. “He has a very strong sense of principles. His favorite statement is, ‘First get it right, then get it first.'”
When accepting the award, Farley recounted the story of when the ACLU defended the rights of a Neo-Nazi group to march through a largely Jewish neighborhood in Illinois in 1977.
“I’ll never forget that kind of defense of the First Amendment contrasted with people today who want to silence opposition and controversial voices. A big damned difference!” Farley told the crowd, according to Talkers.
“The First Amendment is not just an abstract. For news people and broadcasters, we live it every day when people object to our topics, or points of view or their perceptions of bias.”
Farley joined WTOP in 1996 after eight years with ABC News and 13 years at NBC. He has also taught journalism courses at NYU and Fordham University. He started his career in 1966 as a copy boy at WINS in New York City.
On Thursday night, he was described as “one part P.T. Barnum, one part Edward R. Murrow and one part cheerleader.”
In addition to those descriptors, Farley says he’s also a proud grandfather and organic gardener.