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updated 11/18/2009 6:08:44 PM ET 2009-11-18T23:08:44

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News," received the 2009 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University today. ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism bestowed its 26th Cronkite Award to Williams at a luncheon ceremony at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

"As someone who grew up idolizing Walter and having known him in adult life, I know that there is no greater name in our profession," Williams said. "I only hope I am worthy of the meaning and tradition of this honor. Walter Cronkite is the only reason I entered the field of television journalism."

Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News" in 2004, replacing Tom Brokaw, who won the Cronkite Award three years ago.

Williams is the most honored network evening news anchor, the recipient of four Edward R. Murrow awards, five Emmys, the duPont-Columbia University Award and the George Foster Peabody Award. He also holds six honorary doctorates. His award-winning work has included coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which the New York Times called "a defining moment as a network reporter and anchor."

Previous Cronkite Award recipients include TV journalists Tom Brokaw, Bill Moyers and Jane Pauley; newspaper publishers Katharine Graham Al Neuharth and Otis Chandler; television executives Bill Paley, Frank Stanton and Ted Turner; and newspaper journalists Ben Bradlee, Helen Thomas and Bob Woodward. Last year's winners were Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil of PBS.

The Cronkite School was named in honor of the former CBS Evening News anchor in 1984. The nationally recognized school, which offers professional programs on the undergraduate and master's levels, annually ranks in the Top 10 of the Hearst intercollegiate journalism competition.


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