professor of an editorial writing class that I took getting my master’s degree
in journalism at Ohio State University taught me to avoid “we” — as in we
believe, we think, we urge — and to use active verbs, declarative sentences and
plain English to recommend specific courses of action, to inform and to
I like to think that those
lessons have served The Saratogian community well during the years that I have
been writing editorials, among many other things as managing editor.
Today, however, I just want
to say, “Wow.”
Digital First Media, which
manages The Saratogian and is one of the largest media companies in the
country, this morning announced its inaugural awards, the “DFMies” — cute, get
it? — for work done in 2012. I am honored to have been named the winner for opinion writing
, one of 26 awards in what the company expects to be an annual
“These awards are a new
opportunity for Digital First Media journalists to reflect on the importance of
the work we do each day,” said Jim Brady, Digital First Media’s editor-in-chief
said in a DFM press release.
“The most important thing”
about the awards, Brady continued, “is that they provide a reminder of why we
do what we do for our communities.”
I couldn’t agree more.
But as much as I eschew
self-promotion, being recognized by colleagues in the industry and in my
company is nice, too. “It’s a major award,” as the father in “A Christmas
Story” exclaimed while unwrapping his leg lamp.
I hasten to add that all of
the journalism recognition earned by The Saratogian is truly the result of a
Editors improve the work
submitted by writers, including me, and create the headlines and presentation
that draw readers’ attention online and in print. Reporters and photographers
gather and report the news, sports and features in words, pictures and video.
The stories are the seeds for our editorials and columns. I receive
constructive pre-publication feedback about my editorials from our publisher,
who has final say on the positions. And both news content and opinion are often
the result of tips, ideas, documentation and research by community members.
It takes time to research
substantive editorials, let alone write them. I’m in the midst of collecting
information for an editorial about the elementary school where an unusually
high percentage of teachers have asked to be transferred. I don’t know what our
position will be, but I want to understand what the specific issues are and why
the school district needs to hire outside advisers. At the same time, our reporter
who covers schools and business is gathering information as well, so that we
can provide more news on the subject as well as opinion.
The purpose of all this is
for The Saratogian to be a place people can turn to, to find out what’s going on,
to share news and ideas, and to be a catalyst for positive change.
My entry in the DFMie for
opinion writing consisted of a column and two editorials
about the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority; some of this
work was also recognized recently in a statewide journalism award.
In receiving a DFMie, The
Saratogian is in good company, large and small.
The largest member of our
group in Digital First Media, the Denver Post, won the 2012 DFMie for breaking
news for its coverage of the theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., for which it
also received a Pulitzer Prize. And, for instance, among other smaller
publications in DFM, the Berkshire Eagle in nearby Pittsfield, Mass., won the
2012 DFMie for sports journalism for a project on concussions in football.
Excellent work is happening
in newsrooms everywhere, coupled with an emphasis on getting and spreading the
news through websites and social media. This is an exciting and challenging
time in journalism.
It is an honor to be recognized, but it's even better to be serving the community.