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SPJ names three fellows of the Society

For Immediate Release:

Heather Porter, Programs Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 204, hporter@spj.org
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211, bking@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to name Sandy Close, Reginald Stuart and Ben Bagdikian as Fellows of the Society.

Being named a Fellow is the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist for extraordinary contributions to the profession.

Sandy Close

Sandy Close has spent her career working to incorporate ethnic communities into mainstream media. As executive director of the Bay Area Institute/Pacific News Service, she helped create one of the most diverse news sources in the media.

Close “can always be counted upon to lead the rest of the news media in interpreting and responding to the changing media landscape, helping the rest of us to catch up,” wrote the SPJ Diversity Committee in its nomination.

Her work has included helping young people, especially through the publications YO! (Youth Outlook) and “The Beat Within,” which she founded. YO! is a collaboration of youth and writers, and “The Beat Within” is a weekly newsletter produced by incarcerated young people.

“In 1996 she also founded New California Media, a network of more than 600 news organizations collaborating to produce a weekly TV show, an awards program, and an inter-ethnic media exchange and Web site,” wrote the committee. “NCM became New America Media this year, reflecting the growing national influence of ethnic print and broadcast outlets.”

Reginald Stuart

Reginald Stuart began his professional journalism career in 1968 as a general assignment reporter at The Nashville Tennessean. After 18 months at the Tennessean, he was recruited to be the first black television news general assignment reporter by WSIX, the local ABC-TV affiliate. There, he was a pioneer of what is now known as convergence reporting – rewriting his stories for the Tennessean after reporting them on the television station. Stuart also freelanced for two years for a variety of regional publications in the South focusing on politics, race and the media, education and civil rights.

By 1974, Stuart joined The New York Times as a business and finance reporter. There, he covered coal and insurance companies and utilities. In 1976, he moved to The Times national desk as correspondent. Over the next eight years, he served as correspondent and bureau chief in Detroit, Atlanta and Miami.

In 1987, Stuart joined Knight Ridder Newspapers as a national affairs correspondent for The Philadelphia Daily News. In 1990, he was appointed assistant news editor in Knight Ridder’s Washington Bureau, a post he held until 1996. Later, as corporate recruiter, for Knight Ridder, Stuart worked with the company’s 32 papers identifying talent for newsroom and business positions. When Knight Ridder was sold to The McClatchy Company in June 2006, Stuart assumed the same recruiting role with McClatchy.

Stuart is author of a book on the federal bailout of The Chrysler Corporation and was a contributing writer to three other books: “Counterattack,” a book published in Japan about American response to Japanese competition; “Nashville: An American Self Portrait;” and “Best of Emerge.

Beyond Stuart’s contributions to newsrooms and journalism education, he has served as chairman of the SPJ Legal Defense Fund, the Minority Affairs and Finance Committees and as a national president. For his dedication and service to SPJ, Stuart received the Society’s Wells Memorial Key for outstanding service to the Society. Currently, he is president of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington, D.C, the educational arm of the Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter of SPJ.

“Reggie’s accomplishments within SPJ are enough to argue for naming him a Fellow of the Society. He is an SPJ stalwart and the sort of guy who never says no when the organization or one of its leaders needs help,” said David Carlson, president of the Society of Professional Journalists. “But that’s only the start of Reggie’s contributions. He made a name for himself and made names for countless others, too, as he shepherded young journalists through the ranks. I’m not sure anyone can match the impact Reggie has had on diversity in journalism. He has brought countless people of color into the business. All of us are better for knowing him.”

Ben Bagdikian

Known as the Paul Revere of the journalism world, Ben Bagdikian alerted the country years before about the increased concentration of media consolidation and the effects it would have on the quality of journalism as a whole.

“We owe Ben a tremendous amount of gratitude for calling attention to and maintaining in the public eye what has become one of the most significant journalistic trends of this generation,” Carlson said. “In addition to his perspectives on media ownership, Ben has played an instrumental role in advancing journalism education and in protecting and enhancing a free press with the publishing of The Pentagon Papers.”

Bagdikian’s career highlights include years as a national correspondent for The Columbia Journalism Review, a onetime commentator for CBS TV, assistant managing editor and omsbudman at the Washington Post, and an appointment as Dean of the Graduate School of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to his activities in media research, Bagdikian has contributed articles to Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly , The Nation, The Progressive, New York Times Sunday Magazine, The London Times and other national and international publications.

Bagdikian is the recipient of many awards including a Peabody Award for research and critiques of broadcast commentary; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; a Citation of Merit as “Journalism’s Most Perceptive Critic,” awarded by the American Society of Journalism School Administrators; and the James Madison Award, by the American Library Association Coalition on Government Information. His honorary degrees are from Brown University, The University of Rhode Island, and his alma mater, Clark University. He has also received The Berkeley Citation, the equivalent of honorary degrees given at the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to his vast array of journalistic experience, Bagdikian is the author of six books, including “In the Midst of Plenty: The Poor in America;” “The Information Machines;” “The Effete Conspiracy and Other Crimes by the Press;” “Caged: Eight Prisoners and The Keepers;” “Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession;” “The Media Monopoly, and now in its newly written revised 7th Edition entitled, “The New Media Monopoly.”
SPJ Fellow nominations are open to all members of the journalism profession. These individuals will be recognized during the President’s Installation Banquet at the 2006 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Chicago, Aug. 24-27 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, 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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