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Broadcast Journalism Icon, Columbia Trustee Roone Arledge, CC'52, Wins First-Ever Lifetime Achievement Emmy

By Caroline Ladhani

Roone Arledge

TV sports innovator and creator of 20/20, PrimeTime Live and Nightline, Roone Arledge, CC'52, and a Columbia Trustee, has won the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Barbara Walters presented the award on Sept. 10 at a black-tie affair at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in midtown.

Arledge initiated a revolution in sports coverage when, as chief of ABC Sports from 1968 to 1986, he introduced new camera techniques such as slow motion, stylized graphics and instant replay. An article in the 2001 Nov/Dec issue of Columbia Journalism Review described how it all began. Citing a mid 1960s memo that Arledge, then an ABC sports producer, sent his boss explaining his vision for TV sports: "Heretofore, television has done a remarkable job of bringing the game to the viewer -- now we are going to take the viewer to the game!!" wrote Arledge. "…We will utilize every production technique…to heighten the viewer's feeling of actually sitting in the stands and participating personally in the excitement and color…In short, we are going to add show business to sports!"

His influence on television sports spread to the international sports scene as producer of ABC's coverage of the Olympic Games for 10 years.

Arledge also caused a stir in television news, when during his 20 years as president of ABC News, he and his staff created the first ever, late-evening TV news program, Nightline, as well as ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and This Week with David Brinkley, among others.

Rounding out his many honors, Arledge was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1990. Life magazine named Arledge among its "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century." He was awarded the Medal of the Olympic Order, four George Foster Peabody awards, the highest distinction in the broadcast industry, 36 Emmy Awards, and 20 Peabody Awards. In 1995, during his tenure as chairman of ABC News, the organization became the first network news group to receive the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award's Gold Baton for overall excellence. In 1998, the Columbia College Alumni Association bestowed on him its highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Medal.

Recent Columbians have seen his name gracing the façade of the auditorium and cinema at Alfred Lerner Hall. Arledge, the current chairman of ABC News, is a 1952 Columbia College graduate and has served as a Columbia Trustee since 1999.

Published: Sep 26, 2002
Last modified: Sep 26, 2002

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