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Baron, Hannah-Jones, Ramos, Zaitz and Ifill honored as SPJ Fellows of the Society


Matthew Kent, SPJ Program Coordinator, 317-920-4788, mkent@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes Marty Baron, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Jorge Ramos, Les Zaitz and, posthumously, Gwen Ifill, as Fellows of the Society, the highest professional honor awarded by SPJ, for extraordinary contribution to the profession of journalism.

"SPJ is thrilled to welcome Mr. Baron, Ms. Hannah-Jones, Mr. Ramos, Mr. Zaitz and Ms. Ifill to the ranks of our Fellows," said SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry. "They do us and all of journalism a great honor by joining a roster that includes Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Bob Woodward, Ellen Goodman, Ted Koppel, Judy Woodruff and more than 200 other luminaries of the industry. We appreciate their long dedication to excellence in journalism and look forward to celebrating their many contributions."

The Fellows will be honored at SPJ’s virtual conference Sept. 12-13 with more details to come. The Fall issue of Quill Magazine will also focus on this year’s Fellows.

SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since.

Martin “Marty” Baron became executive editor of The Washington Post in 2013. He oversees The Post’s print and digital news operations and a staff of more than 80 journalists. Newsrooms under his leadership have won 17 Pulitzer Prizes, including ten at The Washington Post.

Previously, Baron was the editor of The Boston Globe for 11½ years. During that time, it won six Pulitzer Prizes, including for its investigation into a pattern of concealing clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which was portrayed years later in the Academy Award-winning movie “Spotlight.” Baron also has held top editing positions at The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald.

He has been honored for his work and leadership by the National Press Foundation, Freedom Forum Institute, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. In 2012, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from George Washington University, George Mason University and his alma mater, Lehigh University.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and the creator of the landmark 1619 Project. In 2016, Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization geared toward increasing the numbers of investigative reporters of color.

Prior to joining The New York Times, Hannah-Jones worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica in New York City; for the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, The Oregonian; and began her career at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She has won a Peabody Award, George Polk Award, National Magazine Award and the 2018 John Chancellor distinguished journalism award from Columbia University. In 2017, she received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant, for her work on educational inequality.

Jorge Ramos has been the anchor for ”Noticiero Univision" since 1986. In addition, Ramos hosts “Al Punto,” Univision’s weekly public affairs program, and is the anchor for the program “Show Me Something” for the English-language network Fusion. He also writes a weekly column for more than 40 newspapers in the United States and Latin America distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Ramos is an immigrant who came to the United States as a student in 1983. Three years later, at age 28, he became one of the youngest national news anchors in the history of American television. Since then, he has been called “the voice of the voiceless” for other immigrants like him.

During his career, Ramos has won 10 Emmy awards, including an honorary Emmy and a Lifetime Achievement award, is the author of 13 books and bestsellers and has interviewed dozens of influential world leaders. Ramos has been called “Star newscaster of Hispanic TV” and “Hispanic TV’s No. 1 correspondent and key to a huge voting bloc” by The Wall Street Journal.

Les Zaitz is the editor and publisher of the weekly Malheur Enterprise newspaper, based in Vale, Oregon. His family bought the newspaper in 2015 to rescue it from closure and Zaitz assumed the duties of publisher after retiring in October 2016. Since then, the newspaper has won state, regional and national journalism awards.

Zaitz began his professional journalism career right out of high school in 1973 when he was hired as a general assignment reporter for the Salem Statesman Journal. He continued writing while attending the University of Oregon and has worked for the Springfield News, the Oregon Journal, United Press International, The New York Times and The Oregonian. From 1987-2000, he was owner and publisher of the weekly Keizertimes newspaper in Oregon, which his family still owns.

Over the course of his career, Zaitz has won state, regional and national journalism awards, including being a two-time Pulitzer finalist and part of a team that won the George Polk Award in 2007. Through his investigative work in Oregon, he exposed corrupt public officials, helped investigate the Rajneesh sect, dug into Mexican drug cartels and led The Oregonian’s coverage of the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

Gwen Ifill was moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and co-anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour” until her death in November 2016. During her impressive career, Ifill led numerous public conversations and town halls exploring issues facing the country and moderated presidential and vice-presidential debates.

Ifill was a trailblazer in the industry and among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both print and broadcast journalism. After her appointment in 1999 to lead what was then called “Washington Week in Review,” she became one of the first Black women to preside over a major national political show.

Before joining PBS, Ifill worked for NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American. Ifill was also the best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” She received more than 20 honorary doctorates, served on numerous boards and won many awards during her lifetime and after her death. Ifill was also honored with a Black Heritage Forever Stamp.

Last year’s Fellows were Terry Anderson, a former foreign correspondent and professor of journalism, Maria Ressa, chief executive officer and executive editor of Rappler, Nick Ut, a retired photojournalist with the Associated Press, and, posthumously, Jamal Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalists. A list of all previous honorees is available here.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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