64th annual Founders Day: Fun, fellowship and a brick

Retiring broadcaster Bill Cohen accepts one of the chapter's Appreciation Awards at the 64th annual Founders Day event.
Retiring broadcaster Bill Cohen accepts one of the chapter’s Appreciation Awards at the 64th annual Founders Day event.

The chapter’s 64th annual Founders Day meeting was a combination of fellowship, networking and acknowledgement of the achievement of area journalists. But along the way, a brick was also thrown.

The May 16 event at the Fawcett Center on the Ohio State University campus drew about 50 people to hear former Columbus Dispatch editor and newly-minted freshman state representative Mike Curtin, the night’s keynote speaker.

Curtin talked about the rapidly changing landscape of the news industry and its shift from physical products to digital. The challenge, he said, was to find ways to quickly replace revenue from lost advertising with other sources, mainly subscription fees. The New York Times has about a 50-50 split now, he said, but most online news outlets probably aren’t doing that well.

Curtin talked about how he made the decision to run for public office and said many of his new colleagues at the Statehouse are suspicious that he’s using his new position to gather material for another book — a la George Plimpton. The more he hears that, the better the idea sounds, he said with a grin.

The chapter handed out several annual awards — including the return of the Brick Wall Award, given to the individual or organization that did the most to hamper access to public records or damage the spirit of the First Amendment in the prior year.

Dispatch reporters Bill Bush and Jennifer Smith Richards were presented the First Amendment Award, recognizing their efforts to uncover a data-manipulation scandal at the Columbus City Schools. Their stories have prompted investigations by the Ohio Auditor’s office, the state board of education and the FBI.

Dispatch reporter and immediate past president Eric Lyttle was given the chapter’s Distinguished Service award, saluting his leadership through another successful year for the chapter.

Retiring broadcasters Tom Griesdorn of WBNS-10TV and Bill Cohen of Ohio Public Radio and Television were given the chapter’s Appreciation Award for their contributions to journalism in central Ohio.

The chapter’s Brick Wall Award — which hadn’t been handed out since 2010 — went to JobsOhio, which has been a challenge for reporters and a target for critics who feel it’s the black hole of state government, with state money going toward it without public knowledge or real transparency.

Again this year, the chapter distributed $8,000 in college scholarships, $2,000 each to four students. The Jacob A. Meckstroth Scholarship went to Shay Trotter of Ohio State. The Norman H. Dohn Scholarship went to Kali Borovic of Ohio University. And Ritika Shah of Ohio State and Lindsay Friedman of OU were awarded the James W. Faulkner Scholarship.

Those attending the event donated $1,026 through a silent auction; money that will help fund future scholarships.

Winners of the third annual Martys awards also were recognized at the event. Upper Arlington High School students Matias Groteworld, Cassie Lowery and Patty Huntley took the top award.

The evening was sponsored by The Columbus Dispatch and the Media Network of Central Ohio — A Gannett Company.