Saturday, October 01, 2016

Missouri Press Association's 150th convention has a feel-good vibe about newspapers and journalism

Staff members of the Cassville Democrat, which won the
Gold Cup for small weeklies, posed with their awards and

MPA President Dennis Warden. The Christian County
Headliner-News won the weeklies' middle-circulation
class, and the St. Louis American won the large one.
There was a feel-good vibe at the 150th convention of the Missouri Press Association in Branson this weekend, as publishers, editors, reporters and others in the industry gave and received awards and made speeches upholding the idea that community journalism remains the strongest part of traditional journalism.

Chip Hutcheson of The Times Leader in Princeton, Ky., who just completed a year as president of the National Newspaper Association, noted that NNA still has "newspaper" in its name, without referring to the News Media Alliance, which until recently called itself the Newspaper Association of America. "We remain very bullish on newspapers," while realizing they need digital platforms too, he said. Adapting a daily statement by his old Army Reserve commander, Hutcheson said, "It's a great day to be a newspaper person in America. We have challenges, but we will meet those challenges."

A key to that is maintaining connections with communities newspapers serve, suggested Doug Crews, who retired recently as MPA executive director, and Platte County Landmark Publisher Ivan Foley, who received the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism from the University of Kentucky's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog. "Good journalism gives power to the people," Foley said.

Crews praised "hard-working journalists," saying, "They cover communities, not markets. They're not concerned about demographics; they're concerned about their neighbors." Crews was inducted into the MPA Newspaper Hall of Fame at the convention after 36 years with the association, including 25 as its highly regarded chief executive. "I remember the first convention I worked on was the 113th," he quipped,

Others inducted were the late Edward Heins, whose posts included managing editor of The Des Moines Register, editorial director of the Suburban Journals of St. Louis and general manager of the Columbia Missourian; Jim Hamilton, longtime editor of the Buffalo Reflex and Dallas County Republican; and Tad Bartimus, a longtime correspondent for The Associated Press and AP's first female bureau chief (Alaska, 1974-76).

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