NEW ORLEANS - Calling her an example that "nice girls can finish first," Robin Roberts presented her sister Sally-Ann with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Press Club of New Orleans Saturday night, as the group honored the legendary WWL-TV anchor/reporter for her 38-year career.
Robin, the beloved "Good Morning America" anchor, delivered a funny, emotional and heartfelt speech to present her sister with the award, calling Sally-Ann her mentor and inspiration.
"I would not be doing what I am doing were it not for her," Robin said, remembering the times when Sally-Ann would let her tag along to work at WWL and shadow sports reporters who encouraged her early interest in sports broadcasting.
In accepting the award, Sally-Ann delivered an equally emotional and uplifting speech, thanking her family, including her husband Ron, brother Lawrence (known as "Butch"), sister Dorothy, and her three children, for their support.
She also thanked many of her WWL colleagues past and present, including Angela Hill, who spotted Sally-Ann on television while traveling through Mississippi in 1977, and recommended her to then-news director Phil Johnson. Soon, Sally-Ann was headed to New Orleans for a job as a reporter at Channel 4.
After many years as a reporter covering City Hall and other beats, a decade later, she added anchoring to her resume. For the past two decades, she has co-anchored the powerhouse "Eyewitness Morning News" alongside Eric Paulsen, while also contributing to other newscasts and being recognized with awards for her work. With the Press Club award, she was also applauded for her work in the community, which includes founding the mentorship program Each One Save One and highlighting the need for organ and bone marrow donors, following the successful 2012 transplant her sister Robin underwent, with Sally-Ann as her "perfect match" stem cell donor.
In addition to Roberts' honor, WWL-TV celebrated several awards from the Press Club Saturday. Northshore Bureau reporter Ashley Rodrigue earned the first place award in breaking news coverage for her reporting on a Nov. 2014 fiery fatal accident on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.
Eyewitness News photographers earned several first place awards in the competition. Photographer/editor Neil Giurintano earned a first place award for breaking news videography for coverage of an Amite tornado. Photographer/editor T.J. Pipitone earned the award for general news for a Mike Hoss story about an accident victim reuniting with the medical team who saved his life. Also, photographer/editor Brian Lukas won first place for editing, for a photo essay on Louisiana's wetlands and coastal land loss, and photographer/editor Adam Copus was recognized for sports action videography for his work with Tania Dall on runners returning to Boston to run the Boston Marathon one year after the deadly terrorist bombing.
Also, sports reporter/anchor Lyons Yellin earned a first place award for his New Orleans Saints coverage for WWLTV.com.
Other WWL-TV second and third place winners were:
Newscast - Stephen Melancon
Weathercast – Alexandra Cranford
Feature – Mike Hoss
General News – Meg Farris, Thanh Truong
Sportscast - Doug Mouton
Sports show - Doug Mouton, Danny Rockwell
Best local news web site - WWL-TV staff
Internet special section - WWLTV.com staff
Internet graphics/animation - Michael Luke
General news videography – Brian Lukas
Photo essay – Tom Moore
Public affairs – Dominic Massa
Planned event – Dominic Massa
Graphics & animation – Matt Davis
Talk show – Sheba Turk, Caegan Moore
Entertainment – Sheba Turk, Caegan Moore
Breaking news – Danny Monteverde (for reporting work at The New Orleans Advocate)