A celebration of local journalistic talent was staged Wednesday evening, April 20, by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
At the chapter’s 67th annual Founders’ Day, members and guests celebrated the program year just completed, recognized the top work by local journalists in 2015-16, saluted student journalists who show great promise, and paid tribute to the remarkable careers of several local icons of the profession.
The chapter, founded in 1949, staged the event at the Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington’s Sunny 95 Park, 4395 Carriage Hill Lane.
The chapter’s First Amendment Award went to Lucas Sullivan,
the Columbus Dispatch reporter whose coverage of the RedFlex red light camera scandal at City Hall kept readers fascinated over much of the past year.
Its Appreciation Award went to Ben Marrison, who left the Dispatch in 2015 after a highly successful, 16-year run as its editor.
Doug Buchanan, managing editor/digital for Columbus Business First, was honored tonight with the chapter’s Distinguished Service Award.
Four remarkable careers in local journalism also were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards to:
- Tom Borgerding, past SPJ board member who recently wrapped up an outstanding career in local radio as he retired from WOSU;
- Doral Chenoweth, still better known in these parts as “the Grumpy Gourmet,” whose career actually involved so much in addition to his well-known restaurant reviews. The Grump in fact is the oldest living member of SPJ;
- Cabot Rea, a decades-long anchor on local TV news, who wrapped up an amazing 30-year career with WCMH-NBC4 in December; and
- The late Mike Bowersock, a great local TV reporter, also with Channel 4, who died tragically after a fall this spring. His wife Lisa accepted the award on Mike’s behalf.
The final Chapter award of the evening was the Brick Wall Award. It is a dubious distinction presented to an individual or organization that, according to chapter members, did the most in the past year to block citizen access to public records and proceedings or otherwise violated the spirit of the First Amendment. This year our chapter voted to recognize the faculty at Ohio Wesylan University, who voted Monday April 18 to ban journalists from covering their faculty meetings. The meetings long have been opened and covered by local media and the student press at OWU. The OWU faculty voted 48-21 to ban all journalists, student or otherwise, from all faculty meetings April 18.
The chapter also awarded its annual scholarships April 20. The awards and students receiving them were:
The $2,000 Jacob A. Meckstroth Scholarship, named for a founding member of the chapter and Ohio State’s first journalism class, went to Ohio State’s Taylor Ferrell.
The Norman H. Dohn Scholarship, also for $2,000, is awarded by the chapter each year to a student who is an SPJ member at Ohio University. This year’s Dohn Scholarship went to Danielle Young, a sophomore in OU’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
The James W. Faulkner Scholarship is named in memory of James W. Faulkner, the Statehouse correspondent for The Cincinnati Enquirer, the founder of the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association and the dean of political writers during his lifetime.
This year’s winners of $1,850 each are Michael Huson, of Ohio State University and James Steinbauer of Miami University. Michael serves as campus editor for The Lantern, and James serves as editor of the Miami Student.
The Marty Award is named in memory of the late Martin L. Rozenman, a former Central Ohio SPJ chapter board member, editor at Suburban News Publications and Columbus Dispatch reporter. The Martys high school journalism award program is run and funded by ThisWeek Community News and the Dispatch Magazines, and sponsored by the Central Ohio SPJ.
Winners are chosen in five categories – newswriting, feature writing, opinion writing, sports writing and photography. From those winners, an overall, best-of-show winner is selected – for an additional cash award and recognition at the annual Founders’ Day. This year the overall winner, The Marty, went to a pair of students from the staff of The Torch student newspaper at Bexley High School – Aaron Rothchild and Grace Maley. Aaron and Grace won the Best Feature Writing category of the contest with their story, “Living Their Truths.”
New officers, new board terms
To conclude the night’s business, new Central Ohio SPJ officers for the 2016-17 year were sworn in, and three members also were sworn in to new three-year terms on the chapter Board of Directors:
The 2016-17 slate of officers is:
President: Doug Buchanan, managing editor-digital at Columbus Business First
First Vice President (programming): Sarah Mills Bacha, SMB Communications Ltd.
Second Vice President (membership): Mary Ann Edwards, retired from The Columbus Dispatch
Secretary: Bruce Cadwallader, Franklin County Children’s Services
Treasurer: Joe Meyer, Meyer Media LLC
Chapter Board of Directors members being sworn in to new three-year terms were: Doug Buchanan, Columbus Business First; Spencer Hunt, Student Media Director, The Lantern at The Ohio State University, and; Kevin Z. Smith, Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism, The Ohio State University.
The Founders’ Day 2016 ceremony was emceed by Central Ohio SPJ board member Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Media.