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Helene Cooper Winner of 2011 Urbino Press Award

By Francesco Isgrò

2011|04|21 ~ At a ceremony held on April 20, 2011, at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC, Ambassador Giulio Terzi announced that Giulio TErzi, Helene CooperLiberian-born Helene Cooper, White House correspondent for the New York Times, is the 2011 recipient of the Urbino Press Award. Now in its sixth year, the award is given annually to an American journalist who demonstrates distinguished reporting "on the ever-changing world." Previous winners include David Ignatius (2010), Thomas Friedman (2009), Martha Raddatz (2008), Michael Weisskopf (2007), and Diane Rehm (2006). The official award ceremony will take place at the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino on June 3.

"Today, we recognize excellence in journalism, in searching for news, in writing stories, in analyzing facts and turning information in freedom and progress," stated Ambassador Terzi. In recalling Foreign Minister Franco Frattini's commitment to enhance Italy's public diplomacy in the world, Ambassador Terzi also recognized how "media, both traditional and new ones, can influence today's decision-making in foreign policy."Urbino Press Award 2011

In her remarks at the ceremony, Cooper said she has been "in love with Italy all her life." She recalled how her mother, who had visited Italy in the 1960s, told her numerous stories, including that rice in Italy was cooked with butter and cheese, which "made a big impression on me." She continued, "I'm incredibly honored to receive this year's Urbino Press Award, for both professional and personal reasons. Professionally, I'm thrilled and humbled to share a stage with David Ignatius, Tom Friedman and Martha Raddatz—they are all first-rate chroniclers of the world around us. And personally for me, there is no higher honor than being recognized by the cultural heirs of Baldassare Castiglione, Elisabetta Gonzaga and Federico da Montefeltro—a trio who epitomized Renaissance cool as far as I'm concerned. Grazie mille, Urbino," Cooper concluded.

Cooper joined the NY Times in 2004 as assistant editorial page editor and later became the paper's diplomatic correspondent in Washington, DC. In 2008, she published a memoir titled The House at Sugar Beach, about the Liberian coup of 1980 and its effect on Cooper's family, politically-elite descendants of American freed slaves who colonized the country in the 19th century. The book was a National Books Critics Francesco Isgro, Giovanni LaniCircle Award finalist for autobiography. Prior to joining the Times, Cooper was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal for twelve years working first in London, where her first assignment took her to Venice, and later to Washingtonand Atlanta.

The Urbino Press Award, chaired by journalist Giovanni Lani, is supported by the City and the Province ofUrbino, the Chamber of Commerce and the Piero Guidi Co. "Five centuries ago, Urbino's Palazzo Ducale was a gathering place for Europe's most noted intellectuals," said Lani at the Embassy event. "Today, we keep up the tradition, by inviting prominent reporters and analysts to the sameplaces of Raffaello Sanzio and Suspicious PackagePiero della Francesca," he added. Franco Corbucci, Mayor of Urbino said he looked forward to hosting the award ceremony on June 3, and that he is working with other institutions in Italy to seek ways to enhance theaward.

The evening at the Embassy concluded with a repeat appearance of the Suspicious Package, Washington, DC's most unusual band. Earlier this year, the band won the title of "Best Journo Band" of the year, in the third annual benefit concert known as Journopalooza. The band consists of Pulitzer prize-winning Washington Post political cartoonist Tom Toles on drums, former TIME and Bloomberg correspondent Tim Burger on bass, Medill National Security Journalism Initiative Director Josh Meyer on lead guitar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Bryan Greene on rhythm guitar, and Deputy Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Christina Sevilla (pictured above) on keyboard.



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