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Home > Publications > Quill > Honoring a landmark with SPJ’s Historic Site in Journalism Award


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Friday, May 1, 2009
Honoring a landmark with SPJ’s Historic Site in Journalism Award

Dave Aeikens

One of the great honors that SPJ bestows is the Historic Site in Journalism Award. It goes to a news organization, person or landmark that is of national interest.

We are allowed to award one plaque a year. This year, the Historic Site in Journalism Award will go to Hubbard Broadcasting, a group of TV and radio stations with headquarters on the border of Minneapolis and St. Paul, a short walk from the University of Minnesota.

The executive board and staff will travel to Minneapolis on June 26 to present the plaque to the Hubbard family, which still owns the company after more than 80 years. This event will also be part of our continuing celebration of the 100th anniversary of SPJ.

The plaques are impressive. I saw the one pinned to the wall at the Milwaukee Press Club in January.

Previous awards have gone to the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously publishing paper in the U.S., the National Press Club, the Denver Press Club and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. The first Historic Site in Journalism honor was given out in 1942, and dozens have been awarded since.

KSTP-TV and Hubbard Broadcasting are very much deserving of the honor. TV news was practically pioneered there, and its building is a bit of a TV news museum. Hubbard has one of its satellite trucks in the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Stanley E. Hubbard started what is now KSTP in 1925 as a radio station playing dance music. In 1938, he bought the first television camera from RCA. Because of the war, it took 10 years to get on the air as the Midwest’s first commercial television station. That alone would be enough to get Hubbard Broadcasting the plaque.

But the pioneering efforts go further. It was the first color television station in the United States. It was also the first to broadcast a seven-day schedule and the first to use remote satellite reports inside newscasts. That is something we all take for granted today. KSTP once ran TV promos featuring Ed Asner (Lou Grant from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) telling viewers that KSTP created the first live satellite feed by using a garbage truck.

Hubbard helped pioneer what is now the small satellite dish television and started a satellite news service called CONUS that offered news feeds to stations across the country.

KSTP has also boasted at times one of the leading investigative units in Minnesota, using a team of reporters, photographers and producers to uncover important stories in the region.

The Hubbard family has also given generous support to SPJ in Minnesota and Region 6. Several family members are members of the organization. The station has for years helped contribute money and equipment to the regional conferences.

We are planning a nice event for June 26, at which KSTP-TV and Hubbard Broadcasting will get its Historic Site in Journalism plaque and SPJ will take a few moments to continue to remember its rich history over the past 100 years. Minnesota has had one of the best local chapters for years. It has twice been recognized as the national large chapter of the year. Minnesota also supplied national President Steve Dornfeld, who served in 1982-83 and whose leadership is well documented in the Bert Bostrom book, “Talent, Truth and Energy.”

I see Dornfeld at least once a year at the annual Page One Awards banquet. He still proudly wears his past president pin at the event. Dornfeld has supplied a great deal of support and advice for me over the years as I have navigated my way up the leadership ladder of SPJ.

The event at Hubbard will take us more than halfway through our centennial year, which started in Milwaukee in January with a reception at the Press Club there. In April, SPJ supporters gathered at the DePauw University, the birth place of Sigma Delta Chi, for a day of programs and events designed to mark SPJ’s due place in history.

At the end of August, we will put a wrap on the major events of the centennial in a major way with the 2009 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis. The convention will take place just miles from our national headquarters and about 45 miles from our birthplace.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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