CNN Gift Will Increase Public Understanding of Environmental Issues and Honor Ted Turner

May 4, 2021

Alt Text

(Story from GW Today)

In revolutionizing television news, Cable News Network (CNN) founder Ted Turner earned a reputation as a pioneer in global media and journalism. And as a philanthropist, he focused the world’s attention on environmental threats like climate change.

“Ted brought an audacious entrepreneurial spirit to storytelling and global communication,” said Frank Sesno, director of strategic initiatives for the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA). Mr. Sesno spent more than two decades working at CNN as a White House correspondent, anchor and Washington bureau chief.

Now, Mr. Sesno, SMPA, and others are honoring Mr. Turner’s legacy through the Ted Turner Endowed Fund. The group has set a $6 million goal for a multi-faceted initiative to honor Mr. Turner’s legacy by establishing a GW professorship in his name and supporting events and activities around environmental journalism. Spurred by this $500,000 gift from CNN, the fund also will support activities that reflect Mr. Turner’s passion for environmental activism, such as a major annual event jointly hosted by SMPA and CNN focused on creative storytelling about the challenges confronting the planet.

“There could be no better way to honor Ted than by teaching and inspiring young people,” Mr. Sesno said. “This initiative will increase public understanding of environmental issues, create a permanent public presence highlighting Ted’s legacy, invest in journalism, and benefit students for generations to come.”

To date, the fund has raised $2.5 million from more than 200 donors, including friends and colleagues of Mr. Turner such as WarnerMedia News & Sports Chair and CNN President Jeff Zucker; SMPA National Council members Char Beales, B.A. ’73; former Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent; CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, B.A. ’93; and Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist. Other donors include high-profile journalists and media professionals such as Christiane Amanpour; Wolf Blitzer, Hon. Doctor of Humane Letters ’07; and Sanjay Gupta.

“The Ted Turner Endowed Fund is a textbook example of powerful positive change that is possible when private philanthropy partners with our renowned thought leaders,” said Donna Arbide, GW’s vice president of development and alumni relations. “This will accelerate and amplify the impact of the critically important work of our dedicated SMPA faculty, who are literally working with students to save our planet.”