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Three journalists named SPJ fellows


President Robert Leger, 417/836-1113 or cell: 417/425-9140 or rleger@spj.org
Immediate Past President Al Cross, 502/648-8433 or across@spj.org

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Individual newspapers should reveal their profit margins, Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. told the final headline session of the Society of Professional Journalists convention in Fort Worth Saturday afternoon.

Downie and Robert Kaiser, the Post’s associate editor and senior correspondent, spoke before their induction as SPJ fellows, the highest honor the Society bestows for professional achievement. Also inducted was New York Daily News photographer David Handschuh, who captured the second jetliner hitting the World Trade Center before being seriously injured in the fall of the tower.

Downie and Kaiser are authors of The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril, published this year. In the book, and in their appearance at the SPJ headline session, they urged journalists and their employers to look past circulation, ratings and profits and do a better job of living up to their obligation to serve the public.

Asked if it would be a good idea for newspapers to reveal their profit margins, Downie replied, “Sure, it would.” He said that when he is asked at the Post what margin the paper should have, he says 15 percent. He said that is the same figure used by the St. Petersburg Times, which he called the best paper in Florida, and a figure higher than the average for American industry, but lower than the margins generally reported by major newspaper chains.

Downie, Kaiser and Handschuh were inducted as SPJ Fellows at the convention’s concluding dinner. Handschuh also spoke at the convention about his experiences during the terrorist attack and his work to help journalists cover trauma and deal with the stress and trauma that they may suffer as a result of that and other coverage.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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