Meet Jonathan Dienst of NBC 4 New York,
Winner of the 2020 Peter Kihss Award

Jonathan Dienst

Emmy-winner Jonathan Dienst, who has been covering New York City and its environs as a television reporter for close to three decades, has been named this year’s recipient of the Silurians’ prestigious Peter Kihss Award. Dienst is the chief investigative reporter for NBC 4 New York (WNBC), as well as a contributing correspondent for NBC News. At WNBC, Dienst and his investigative team have specialized in breaking major stories on topics that include terrorism, political corruption, corporate scandals and crime. He also files for the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and CNBC, and has appeared on Dateline.

Dienst helped to lead WNBC’s coverage of the investigation into the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the anthrax attacks and the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in the Rockaways in 2001. He also broke and reported key developments for NBC in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings investigation as well as the 2005 London bombings.

The Kihss Award, first presented by the Silurians in 1986, is given to the reporter who best exemplifies the spirit of the late New York Times legend for whom it is named. Kihss, who died in 1984, was noted for his meticulous reporting and for his generosity in mentoring young journalists. Dienst will be honored at the “virtual” Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony now scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 7 p.m. The event will be conducted via Zoom, or a similar platform. The Kihss Award will be the latest honor racked up by Dienst, whose work has often received national and local acclaim. Last year, he and his team won the Edward R. Murrow Award, presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association, for its coverage of local government in North Bergen, N.J.

Dienst is a 1990 graduate of Colgate University. A year later, he received his master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and had a brief stint as a reporter at Newsday before joining WSAV-TV, an NBC affiliate in Savannah, Ga., where he covered the city’s skyrocketing murder rate and several police corruption scandals. In 1992, he was on board for the launch of New York 1 News and played a major role in the station’s coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. From 1996 to 2001, Dienst was at WPIX/Channel 11 News, covering police and the courts, politics and national and international news. He’s been WNBC-TV’s chief investigative reporter since 2001.

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