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Society of Professional Journalists honors Indiana paper

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Recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Recorder, the Society of Professional Journalists presented a Historic Site in Journalism plaque to its owner and publisher, William Mays, in ceremonies conducted Sept. 7, 1995, in Indianapolis.

Reginald Stuart, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and assistant news editor of Knight-Ridder Newspapers' Washington Bureau, made the presentation.

"The Society of Professional Journalists is honored to recognize a pillar of diversity in the American news media--the Indianapolis Recorder, one of the oldest continuously published black weeklies in the nation," said Stuart. "From a one-pager 100 years ago, much like the starter paper I published as a child, to the more polished paper it is today, the Indianapolis Recorder has chronicled the life and times of black people in Indianapolis for all of the people of Indianapolis to share and learn from."

The Recorder began in 1895 as The Directory and quickly expanded to become a voice for the black community in Indianapolis. It took on such issues as job segregation, fair treatment of black patients at an area hospital, and the Ku Klux Klan in 1920. Today, the Recorder is the third-oldest minority weekly newspaper in the United States.

"The Recorder has survived hard times and written about tough times," said Stuart. "It has prospered and flirted with closure. Like any publication with a heart and soul, however, it has persevered."

The Recorder was co-founded by George Pheldon Stewart and Will H. Porter. Stewart served as editor and publisher until his death in 1924. He had help from co-publisher Porter, an Indianapolis attorney and politician. Stewart's widow, Fannie, ran the paper until 1928, when son Marcus assumed leadership as editor. The Recorder remained a family enterprise until 1988, when Eunice Trotter became the majority owner and editor-publisher. Mays acquired the newspaper Aug. 20, 1990.

Among its past celebrated reporters and editors are: nationally known columnist William Raspberry of The Washington Post, and former managing editors William A. Chambers and Clarence Scott. Raspberry and Marcus Stewart have been installed in the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame.

The Recorder becomes the third Indiana location to receive the distinguished site award. Others are in Bloomington dedicated to Ernie Pyle, an editor, columnist and war correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers, and DePauw University in Greencastle, where Sigma Delta Chi was founded on April 17, 1909.

In addition to the Indiana locations, others sites recognized by the Society include: Columbia, Mo., where the country's first school of journalism was established at the University of Missouri; Philadelphia, Pa., where Benjamin Franklin was honored as a statesman and newspaperman; and San Francisco, Calif., home of William Randolph Hearst and the San Francisco Examiner. In all, SPJ has recognized more than 80 Historic Sites in Journalism.

SPJ officers in attendance were President-elect G. Kelly Hawes, metro editor of the Muncie Star; Gregory Christopher, SPJ executive director; Dorene Jackson Caudill of the Indianapolis Star, SPJ Indiana pro chapter president; board members and interested chapter members.

The historic marker presented by SPJ will be mounted in the lobby of the Recorder at 2901 N. Tacoma Ave.

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