Banquet recognizes Pulliam fellow
WASHINGTON – The Society of Professional Journalists and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation honored the 2001 Pulliam Fellow and got a glimpse of one man’s insight into the state of journalism and the industry’s future during the annual Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship Banquet on April 19.
Joe Holley, Insight editor for the San Antonio Express-News was presented with a plaque and a $40,000 check at the ceremony. It was presented by Paul McMasters, president of the SDX Foundation and First Amendment ombudsman at The Freedom Forum. Holley was selected from a number of applicants for the fellowship and will use the money to study the blurring borders between the U.S. and Mexico.
Holley was followed by keynote speaker Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor for The Washington Post and co-author (with Robert Kaiser, also of The Post) of the newly-published book, “The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril.”
Downie told the group gathered at the National Press Club that modern journalism is both a public service and a venue for profit.
“Both, if management is willing to do it,” Downie said. “Journalists have told Americans most of what they know about the world and the war (on terrorism. Yet even amid recent events, news sources continue to make major cuts in the amount of international and foreign news covered.” He also pointed out that Americans today are better educated and have higher standards for their news.
Downie noted that the media appears to be placing a higher priority on visual orientation than on content and that serious news is giving way to entertainment.
“Do news audiences want to watch serious news?” Downie said. “Damn straight – if it’s serious, well-constructed, and relevant.”
Downie also answered questions from professionals and students following his remarks.
Annually, the SDX Foundation awards a $40,000 fellowship to an outstanding editorial writer. The award was established in 1978 by Nina Pulliam to honor her deceased husband, Eugene C. Pulliam, a founding father of the Sigma Delta Chi fraternity.
Sponsors of the banquet, held in cooperation with the National Press Club, were the First Amendment Center, BellSouth, San Antonio Express-News, Public Strategies, Inc., and American University.
Information and application procedures for the 2002 Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing are available on at www.spj.org/fellowships_pulliam.asp or by contacting the awards coordinator at 317/927-8000.