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Mike Wallace of CBS to receive lifetime achievement award in journalism

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor

Released 10/9/2007

“60 Minutes” newsman Mike Wallace will be the first recipient of the Illinois Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, to be awarded Saturday (Oct. 13) in New York.

The prize honors individuals whose career contributions to public affairs reporting represent the highest and best achievements of American journalism.

The award will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Ave., New York, following an evening reception and dinner.

The recipient is selected by the University of Illinois journalism faculty to honor “work that consistently served as a beacon for other journalists, set the highest standards of excellence in the field, and placed the public good and public awareness before all else.”

“It’s our way of reminding the nation and young journalists and journalism students that great public affairs journalism is alive and well in the era of infotainment, cable TV bluster and the blogosphere,” says Walt Harrington, the head of the journalism department at Illinois. “Decade after decade, through all the changes, Mike Wallace found a way to do superb, important journalism for half a century. It took skill, determination, brilliance and bravery.”

Wallace, who will turn 90 next May, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939. His early career included jobs at radio stations in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Chicago (WGN) and Detroit, before joining the Navy as a communications officer in World War II.

Additional time in Chicago followed, including anchor and reporting jobs at WMAQ-AM and the Air Edition of the Chicago Sun. Wallace headed to New York in 1955 and an anchor position at a local television station. He would then do “Night Beat,” which became “The Mike Wallace Interview,” and narrated the “Biography” series.

Wallace was hired in 1963 as a full-time correspondent at CBS News. He has been with “60 Minutes” since its debut in 1968. Among his many interview subjects have been U.S. presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush, world leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Ayatollah Khomeini, celebrities from Carol Burnett to Luciano Pavarotti, and controversial figures such as Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Louis Farrakhan.