FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace announced the recipients of the 2023 FOX News Media Spotlight Awards on Wednesday during an end-of-year town hall event for employees.
The FOX News Media Spotlight Awards are an annual tradition for the company and management received hundreds of nominations from staff members passionate about celebrating colleagues who earned special recognition.
“FOX & Friends” co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade and Lawrence Jones joined Scott and Wallace, while Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer offered kind words about each recipient.
Unsung Hero Award
The Unsung Hero Award goes to employees who consistently and continually go above and beyond with work that is vital to FOX News Media but often goes unnoticed. This year, three winners were chosen.
Nick Lontine, supervisor of media production’s Real Time Graphics team
“One coworker says Nick Lontine knows the answer to every single question, and he’s so proactive that half the time you ask him to start a project, you find out he’s already completed it,” Hemmer said.
“He tirelessly supports hundreds of viz concepts, and closely collaborates with colleagues across our company,” Hemmer continued. “His bosses and colleagues agree, when it comes to graphics, Nick makes us all look good.”
Viktoria Ristanovic, editorial coordinator and executive assistant
“Viktoria Ristanovic is an editorial coordinator and executive assistant, but that title doesn’t capture a fraction of what she does. No matter your role, Vikki has probably helped you already, or will help you tomorrow,” Hemmer said.
“When you don’t know what to do, Viki is the one you call. Because she’ll find a solution. She will track down elusive editorial information, or uncover video that nobody else can find,” he added. “Viki is an enthusiastic champion of this company, and we’re grateful she’s here to help lay the foundation for the future.”
Samantha Cosme, production coordinator
“Sam Cosme is known for stepping up, working hard, and making it all look easy. When our New Year’s Eve production manager got sick, Sam cut short her Florida vacation to handle the chaos in Times Square. When something similar happened at our Milwaukee debate, Sam flawlessly handled logistics for the Spin Room and Filing Center,” Hemmer said. “Sam’s boss says she’s on her way to becoming a production manager.”
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Rising Star Award
The Rising Star Award goes to entry-level employees who have shown exemplary work ethic and growth throughout the year. Three winners were chosen.
James Sun, Media Production Group Daily Artist
“James joined the Media Production Group right out of school, during the pandemic, and we quickly realized he’s something special. Projects that previously needed multiple revisions; James nailed in one shot. He personally handles more than 500 graphics a month, which is an enormous workload,” Hemmer said.
Karina Legarda, ingest operator
“Karina and her Remote Operations colleagues will handle about 18,000 Skype and FaceTime hits this year, and she’s already stood out so noticeably that bookers and guests ask for her by name, because they know she’ll do a great job,” Hemmer said.
“Since starting with us last year, Karina’s already learned pre-check and remote coordination… and she began teaching herself how transmission works.”
Kyle Thomas, remote coordinator
“[Kyle] also started just last year, and quickly proved he’s one to watch. Anyone who’s worked in breaking news knows it can get pretty intense, but Kyle adapted to pressure and pace faster than most new remote coordinators,” Hemmer said.
“He’s also the guy who catches and fixes mistakes before others even realize there’s an issue,” he added. “Kyle’s coworkers say he has an incredible work ethic, coming in early, staying late, and never backing down from a challenge.”
Community Service Award: Vivian Leung, “America Reports” senior producer
This award goes to an employee that has dedicated time and energy to his or her local community and is most active in company volunteer efforts. Leung has been dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence.
More than a decade ago, Leung started volunteering as a hotline operator to help de-escalate situations for those in crisis. She later became a legal advocate to assist survivors of domestic violence, going to court to help victims navigate complex legal processes. The nonprofit Childhood Domestic Violence Association recently appointed Leung to its board of directors.
“That is important work, and very serious,” Earhardt said. “You’re doing amazing work, It’s so important to stand with those survivors, and we’re very proud of you.”
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Inclusion Ambassador of the Year Award
The Inclusion Ambassador of the Year Award is for an employee who leads by example in celebrating, engaging, and advocating on behalf of diverse community voices both inside and outside of FOX News Media. This year, two winners were selected for the first time.
Patricia Peart, vice president of weekend booking
“For 18 years, Patricia Peart has been a powerful advocate for diversity at Fox. She co-chairs our Fox employee resource group, ‘Black Plus,’ organizing corporate events to help colleagues connect,” Hemmer said.
“The Maynard Institute awarded Patricia a fellowship in its program to encourage diversity and equity in newsrooms. Patricia is also the person to find when you need an emergency safety pin, or a shout wipe,” he continued. “And she somehow still finds time to bake dozens of mini pumpkin pies for the newsroom every Thanksgiving. Amazing.”
Bob Bicknell, Fox Weather senior producer
“More than a dozen colleagues nominated Bob Bicknell for this award, and it’s easy to see why they love him. Not only is he a founding member of the Fox Weather ‘Fun Committee,’ he’s also a ‘champion of inclusion’ according to one colleague,” Hemmer said.
“He’s represented Fox at the Association of LGBTQ+ journalists, co-chairs Fox Pride, and organized participation in New York’s AIDS walk — which was probably easy for him, after he ran the 2015 marathon in a very respectable time of 3:37,” Hemmer added. “So many of Bob’s coworkers talked about how welcoming he is to everyone, and how he’s helped create more inclusivity, both internally and in our programming.”
Innovator of the Year: Fox News Media Lighting Department
The Innovator of the Year recognizes an initiative that created a new way of delivering information, telling a story, or doing business. The Fox News Media Lighting Department, made up of Colin Ackers, Liz Albright, Nico Bazzoni, Jess Black, Justin Brewer, Andrew Crawbuck, Sean Devine, Antonio Huerta, George Jalinos, Harry Kalfaian, Kelly Knudson, Edmond Lulgjuraj, Josh Martinez-Davis, Jason Miller, Dave Renken, Milos Stevanovic, Robert Ulrich, Chris Bazzoni, James Chester and Anthony Rivelli took home the coveted honor along with the late Joe Rosta, who tragically died in September.
“The lighting department is shaking things up this election cycle by designing and installing the incredibly complex setups for our Debates and town halls. It’s hard to overstate how much this team has taken on, when they took over for outside vendors, and started doing the work themselves,” Hemmer said, adding that they make the “talent look amazing.”
The Impact Award: Lissa Kaplan, senior coordinating producer
The Impact Award goes to someone who significantly and positively impacted business processes and profitability over the past year.
“When a major story breaks, there’s one thing we know for sure: Lissa Kaplan is about to volunteer to coordinate coverage. No matter where the story’s happening, she’s on it,” Hemmer said.
“Lissa goes far above and well beyond her job description, assisting not only FOX News Channel, but also Business, Weather, and Digital. She’s relentless in her pursuit of the facts and demands answers from even the most reluctant of interview subjects,” Hemmer continued. “Lissa also lifts up and teaches those around her. She sits patiently with new staffers, generously sharing the wisdom she’s collected over her career. As one colleague put it, Lissa is the center of our synergy.”
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Prior to the winners being announced, Scott and Wallace celebrated a successful 2023.
“This has been a really exceptional year for FOX News Media,” Scott said before running through some highlights of the past year.
“Fox News Channel is currently on pace to be the number one cable network for the eighth year in a row, and we’re on course to be the top cable news network for 22 consecutive years,” Scott said. “We’re hitting those milestones while covering the most consequential stories of our time. Across the country and around the globe, our reporting teams are breaking news and bringing it home.”
She noted that journalists in the Middle East are “covering a war that could define a generation.”
“Our journalists are there, shining a light on the darkest corners of suffering, and bringing the facts to our audience,” Scott said.
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Scott also put a spotlight on Sean Hannity’s “Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, drawing more than five million viewers, FOX Business topping CNBC in key metrics, FOX News Books continuing to “churn out bestsellers,” Benjamin Hall launching his “Searching for Heroes” podcast, FOX Nation marking its five-year anniversary, significant charitable efforts, and Fox News Digital heading for an eleventh consecutive quarter as the top news brand in multiplatform minutes.
“Recently, we’ve seen a lot of interest in our ‘antisemitism exposed’ section… which has original reporting about what we’ve seen on college campuses, in the streets, and all around the world,” Scott said.
Wallace then thanked everyone working so hard on politics ahead of the critical 2024 presidential election.
“Iowa and New Hampshire are going to be here before we know it,” he said. “Happy holidays everyone, and thank you.”