Randall Pinkston, 2013 recipient of the Sam Talbert Silver Em award began his illustrious journalism career as one of a small group of talented American broadcaster at WLBT in Jackson. Pinkston achieved national fame with CBS paving the way for other African American journalists to become major figures in the industry.
“The bottom line is fine broadcasters like Randall Pinkston polished their skills in small markets like Jackson and opened doors for other talented black reporters in the south and throughout the nation,” said Ed Meek, Oxford publisher and former board member with the Jackson television station. “Randall Pinkston has made a lasting contribution.”
Pinkston, winner of three national Emmys and one Edward R. Murrow Award as a network correspondent, accepted his award at a luncheon on Oct. 17 in the Overby Center for Southern Politics at Ole Miss. The Silver Em dates to 1958 and is the highest award in journalism presented by the university. Recipients must be Mississippians with notable journalism careers or journalists who have made major contributions in Mississippi through their reporting. Pinkston is a winner on both counts.
A native of Yazoo County, Pinkston retired in May after 33 years with CBS and in September joined the new Al Jazeera America team as a freelance journalist and national correspondent. In 1980, Pinkston joined WCBS-TV in New York, where he covered New Jersey for 10 years. Pinkston then joined CBS News as White House correspondent covering the administration of President George H.W. Bush and traveling with the president.
At the end of the Bush presidency, Pinkston was reassigned to New York and covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. intervention in Haiti, the Unabomber story, the standoff with the Montana Freemen and the trial of Susan Smith, accused of killing her children.
Pinkston covered the early developments in the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida and, notably, interviewed Myrlie Evers Williams, a fellow Mississippian and widow of Medgar Wiley Evers, who was assassinated when Pinkston was 12, as one of his last CBS assignment.
Andy Knef is managing editor of Hottytoddy.com