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SPJ honors David Perlman with lifetime achievement award


For Immediate Release:

Lauren Rochester, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 210,
Andrew M. Scott, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215,

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to honor veteran San Francisco journalist David Perlman with the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. Reporting for over seven decades, Perlman is revered for his comprehensive writings on complex developments in space, geology, paleontology, evolution, the environment and other science news.

The Helen Thomas Award is presented to an individual or individuals for a lifetime of contribution and service to the journalism profession. The award is named after longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas for her reporting in a career that spanned almost 60 years. Thomas received the inaugural award in 2000. Click here for a list of previous honorees.

Perlman’s 78-year newspaper career began at age 12 with his junior high school paper. Perlman started writing at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1940. After serving in World War II, he worked at the International Herald-Tribune before returning to the Chronicle in 1951.

“All of us at the Chronicle are delighted that David is to receive the SPJ Lifetime Achievement award,” Executive Vice President and Editor of the Chronicle Ward Bushee said. “David's enthusiasm and commitment to his job is an inspiration for all of us in the Chronicle newsroom. This recognition is so well deserved.”

His body of work includes four weeks covering an expedition in the Galapagos Islands, writing 30 stories on aspects of evolution inspired by Darwin’s presence there. Spending three weeks over the Galapagos Rift Zone in 1971, Perlman reported the first discovery of living organisms metabolizing and thriving in hydrothermal vents 10,000 feet under water. Since 1964, he has covered all of NASA’s major robotic planetary missions from Mariner 9 to the ongoing Mars Rovers launched in 2004. He also reported on the first AIDS cases in June 1981.

Constantly active, Perlman, 91, produced nearly 100 bylines last year. In October, he stayed up through the night at the NASA-Ames Research Center to cover the LCROSS spacecraft as it fired its rocket into the moon.

“His contributions and commitment to science reporting have helped to inform and educate generations of Bay Area readers about the world in which they live,” Bushee said. “Over his stellar career, David also has been a mentor to many science reporters, including several Pulitzer Prize winners.”

Perlman has received several awards over the course of his career with two journalism awards named for him: The David Perlman Award for Excellence in Medical Journalism and the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism.

Perlman will be recognized Tuesday, Oct. 5 during an awards banquet at the 2010 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas.

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 on SPJ, please visit


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