Symposium Honors 2015

This page was current during summer 2016; AOJ is merging into the American Society of News Editors by Jan. 1, 2017.

Minority Writers Seminar
Joan Armour thanks
Bingham awardee Julian Rodriguez
Life member J.R. Labbe
Life member David Holwerk
Last pre-merger president Miriam Pepper thanks David Haynes
(Previously posted elsewhere, Pulliam award recipient's how-it-began)

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Writers Seminar new alumni and faculty, Nov. 15 


For more on the decades of this service, see the Minority Writers page

Special award to Joan Armour

One of the founders of the NCEW Foundation (now AOJ Foundation) Minority Writers Seminar, Joan Armour of Nashville received a plaque and standing ovation in thanks for her long and selfless service. 

Presenting the plaque is Chuck Stokes of WXYZ-TV Detroit, a fellow life member; the hug is from David Haynes of Milwaukee, AOJ president. 

Video below: finale of her acceptance (30 secs):

(posted 11/30/2015 JM)

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Bingham award for education service

Julian Rodriguez of the University of Texas at Arlington received a $1,000 grant named for Barry Bingham Sr. from the AOJ Foundation and told of how satisfying it is to see hard-working students raising their aspirations and meeting their goals. 

More about his work was published previously on the Bingham page of the AOJ web site.

(An earlier version of this post misstated the amount of the grant; Rodriguez was the first to call it to the editor's attention. updated 12/2/15)

(posted 11/30/2015 JM)

Video (86 seconds):

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Pulliam $75K grant


Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Daily News accepted from SDX Foundation rep Jay Evenson of the Deseret News. Details of the award and her work, and short video of her description of how her project began are at the Pulliam 2015 page and linked from it to spj.org.

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Two new AOj life members

By John McClelland (12/1/2015)

Tradition in NCEW and AOJ is that the presenter of a life membership first describes the recipient's extraordinary contributions in generic terms that could apply to any of dozens of active contributors and leaders.

Then something slips in mid-spiel. Last year, it was a reference to saving our web site during tumultuous changes of management. This year, the first spot-on clue was David Holwerk's reference to having strong backbone and "a 9-mm Glock in her" waistband. ...

Those who recognize a certain past president of NCEW as a well-informed and responsible gun owner knew instantly. She is an irrepressible supporter of her few peers and many near-peers, former leader of a Pulitzer winning edit page, and tireless advocate of the First Amendment (she knits, if that is the right word, an always intensely desired First Amendment afghan for the annual celebration-drawing-auction).(updated 12/3/2015 to remove erroneous reference to an old Masthead item) From the Fort Worth area in Texas, J.R. Labbe.

Video 2:03 (123 seconds)

Then something else slipped. ...

Most years, there is one recipient, and the program even says "a life membership." Someone sent Holwerk to his seat and Neil Heinen (left, above) started reciting another winner's contributions, including decades of service to, and years as president of, the NCEW Foundation, then AOJ Foundation. Always entertaining before a crowd (this year's talk on campaigns), last year he squeezed more contributions per-capita from attendees than ever before. Now from Dayton Ohio, David Holwerk.

Video from his acceptance talk, 1:46 (106 seconds):

Recipients get a plaque, dues-free membership, and if they claim it, an unofficial tradition of a waiver of the non-meal portion of future conference registration fees. A full list of recipients is online at AOJ life-members.

* NCEW: National Conference of Editorial Writers, 1947 to 2011, when it became AOJ

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Thanks among presidents

Miriam Pepper, retired from the Kansas City Star, is now able to joke about her two very difficult years as the last president of the professional association that began as NCEW in 1947 and became AOJ in 2012. 

Faced with declining revenue, the board urged and the membership voted in September 2014 to dissolve the corporation and turn its remaining assets (which ended up being, as predicted, almost $30,000) over to the former NCEW- then AOJ-Foundation, now just AOJ, still a 501c3 educational entity. She pushed the legal process through the Pennsylvania authorities and IRS reporting, and got the lawyers to do it on-time, on-budget.

She did not linger on anything, even the joke, when she had the microphone. She presented a thank-you from the other leaders of the organization to David Haynes, who led the search for more suitable new management (Poynter), took on the AOJ Foundation presidency, and led the planning, preparation, and conduct of AOJ Symposium 2015.

Pepper and long-time Foundation president Lois Kazakoff, deputy editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, received the joint boards' thanks, from Haynes, at the April meeting in DC.

Since we left St. Pete, he has recruited some volunteers, set up an AOJ-specific YouTube site, nudged the board members to prepare for a membership drive, and more. He has told the board that his term must end before July, ideally with a passing of the torch in April.

--John McClelland 12/1/2015

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