Connectiv has awarded Rob Blackwell, Washington bureau chief for SourceMedia's American Banker, the 2017 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity, which recognizes exemplary leadership in the face of challenges and pressures that editors face daily. It is given to an editor whose work displays extraordinary courage, integrity and passion. The award is named after the longtime Billboard editor who served as the moral compass of the music industry by tackling controversial issues until he passed away in 2002.
Blackwell, who joined American Banker in 2000, quickly became one of the Washington bureau's stars (in 2001, Blackwell was part of a team that won a Connectiv Neal Award for Best News Coverage on the FDIC's controversial efforts to reform deposit insurance). The year 2016 marked the culmination of more than a decade that Blackwell has spent building a high performance culture in American Banker's Washington bureau including,
- Playing an integral leadership role in American Banker's coverage of the biggest financial-services story of the year, the Wells Fargo fake-accounts scandal. From the get-go, Blackwell asked hard questions about the lack of executive dismissals and CEO John Stumpf's ability to weather the storm (Stumpf indeed soon stepped down). And the coverage extended well beyond staying on top of the days headline news, delving deep into the far-reaching implications of the scandal, not only for Wells itself but for the industry at large.
- Blackwell spearheaded AB's coverage of the most unpredictable and possibly most consequential presidential election in recent memory, delivering early and regular insights about the candidates' potential impact on financial services policy.
- He also wrote informed commentary on financial services policy that was fearlessly critical of politicians across the ideological spectrum, from Bernie Sanders to House Republicans to then-insurgent Donald Trump.
- Working with several other publications at SourceMedia, Blackwell and his team put together a detailed dossier on each presidential candidate's views on health care, tax reform, and financial services policy. The "presidential matrix" allowed readers to pick and choose individual candidates so they could compare them side by side.
- Finally, on election night, Blackwell coordinated with multiple publications to make sure SourceMedia's brands had a timely, smart and valuable package of analysis the next morning. Crucially, he took nothing for granted. When it became clear, late in the evening, that Donald Trump would be the surprise victor, Rob beat down figurative doors to make sure the next days coverage across all brands would reflect the new reality.
Blackwell will officially be honored at the 63rd Annual Neal Awards on March 31st in New York City. Click here for a look at all 2017 Neal Award finalists and here for past recipients of the Timothy White Award.