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Society of Professional Journalists names Ron Sylvester Regional Director of the Year

For Immediate Release:

Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 507-8911

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Society of Professional Journalists, one of the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism-advocacy organizations, is pleased to honor Wichita Eagle reporter Ron Sylvester with its annual Regional Director of the Year Award.

Sylvester is the director of Region 7, which includes oversight of SPJ chapters in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. He is the second generation from his family to belong to SPJ. His father, a broadcast pioneer from Missouri, joined SPJ when it was the Sigma Delta Chi fraternity in 1950. After visiting his father on the job and hearing the clacking of teletype machines, Sylvester ended up working for his hometown newspaper, the Springfield News-Leader, for 24 years. His first assignment was women’s athletics, which he was the first reporter at the paper to cover the beat.

After being asked to leave college because he devoted more time to the newspaper than to classes, Sylvester continued to work in journalism, covering every beat in the newsroom, including arts and entertainment, public health, medicine, science and technology. He even found time to write a book on the development of Branson, Mo., as an entertainment tourist destination. Today, Sylvester covers legal affairs for the Wichita Eagle and works as a stringer for Court TV. Today, Sylvester says he cannot think of a better way to make a living.

According to Immediate Past President Christine Tatum, Sylvester received the Regional Director of the Year award because of his dedication to furthering the journalism field and his abilities to help journalists and citizens understand why newsgathering plays an important role in shaping communities.

“I salute Ron Sylvester for serving as a great example of where journalists — many of whom are struggling to navigate a news industry plagued with turmoil and uncertainty — should be heading,” Tatum said. “Ron has invited everyone — not just SPJ members in his region — to learn alongside him, to collaborate with him and to contribute to the big-idea discussions he facilitates through SPJ’s ‘Technolo-J’ blog.

“Ron is also an exceptional regional director because he innovates and isn’t afraid to push SPJ into new territory that helps the Society retain members and continue its profoundly important work.”

Each year, SPJ honors an outstanding regional director for exceptional service and contributions to their region and the Society during the preceding year. Nominations for the award may be made by chapters or members. Sylvester was honored at a dinner Saturday, Oct. 6, during the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C.

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. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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