John Dinges Chosen For Leo C. Lee Award

May 9, 2013

Each year, PRNDI honors an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public radio news.  The award is named in honor of its first recipient: Leo C. Lee, the founder of Western Public Radio, a San Francisco-based public radio training program.

This year the Leo C. Lee award will be presented to John Dinges.  Dinges is in charge of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s radio curriculum, which he revamped to emphasize public radio journalism. In that role he helped launch the careers of award winning public radio journalists from Wyoming to Washington D.C. 

“We are very excited to bestow this honor upon John this year,” said PRNDI President George Bodarky.  He’s contributed greatly to public radio news throughout his career, from his days as managing editor of news at NPR to his current post as director of radio at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.  John is tirelessly committed to the craft.  Thanks to John, countless individuals now fully understand the values that underlie public radio journalism and are telling great stories. ” 

After Dinges received a BA from Loras College and an MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, he began his career as a reporter and copy editor for The Des Moines Register & Tribune. He was a freelance correspondent in Latin America for many years, during the period of military governments and civil wars in South and Central America, writing for Time, The Washington Post, ABC Radio, The Miami Herald and other news organizations. On his return to the United States, he worked as assistant editor on the foreign desk at The Washington Post. He joined NPR as it was building up its foreign coverage, serving as deputy foreign editor and managing editor for news.

He is the author, most recently, of "The Condor Years: How Pinochet and his Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents" (The New Press 2004). His other books include "Assassination on Embassy Row" (1980), "Our Man in Panama: The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega" (1990), "Sound Reporting: The National Public Radio Guide to Radio Journalism and Production" (as co-editor and co-author) (1992), and "Independence and Integrity: A Guidebook for Public Radio Journalism" (co-editor) (1995).

His awards include the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for excellence in Latin American reporting, the Latin American Studies Media Award, and two Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Awards (as NPR Managing Editor). He serves on the advisory boards of Human Rights Watch and the National Security Archive, and is a juror for the Cabot awards and the duPont-Columbia awards. 

Dinges will receive the Leo C. Lee award during the annual PRNDI awards banquet on June 22nd in Cleveland.