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Denver Press Club Designated Historic Site in Journalism
Clint Brewer, President. (615) 301-9229
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected journalism-advocacy organizations, has named the Denver Press Club a Historic Site in Journalism.
For 130 years, the Denver Press Club has been the touchstone of Colorado journalism. From its early days as a collection of poker-playing frontier newspapermen to its current incarnation as a place where journalists meet to discuss their craft, the club has functioned as the central gathering place for media professionals.
A newspaper clipping dates the first meeting of the club to November 1877. The journalists who gathered at a post-Thanksgiving meal elected William Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News, as their first president.
In 1905, the members elected a board of directors, adopted a set of bylaws and began holding annual meetings. The preamble of the 1905 bylaws set out the mission of the club in plain, simple language.
“To further the ethics and ideals of the profession of journalism,” they wrote.
Throughout time, the Denver Press Club has hosted such distinguished guests as President Woodrow Wilson, Carl Sandberg and Ginger Rogers. Additionally, the club features a collection of autographed photos from about 20 U.S. Presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dwight Eisenhower occasionally dropped by the club while in Denver.
A wall within the club contains row upon row of caricatures of local journalism icons, such as Denver Post publisher Helen Bonfils and former SPJ National Presidents, Fred W. Brown and Palmer Hoyt. Pulitzer prizes won by staff members from the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post also grace the walls.
In the past 13 years, the Denver Press Club has celebrated its rich history by awarding the Damon Runyon Award to writers in the Runyonesque tradition of vivid, colorful writing. Past winners have included Jimmy Bresslin, Mike Royko, Herb Caen, Molly Ivins, Pete Hammill, Ted Turner, Maureen Dowd, Tom Brokaw, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersh, Ed Bradley, Carl Hiaasen and George Will.
“As much as any newsroom in America, the Denver Press Club holds a special and significant place in the annals of journalism,” said Society of Professional Journalists National President Clint Brewer, executive editor of The City Paper in Nashville. “Having tended bar myself at this great establishment one Denver night, I can attest to the fact that history hangs in the air. It is a treasured space that deserves this fine honor.”
Annually, SPJ’s National Board of Directors honor individuals, news organizations and places of national historic interest. Only one Historic Site in Journalism may be selected in a given year.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists 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 further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.