One of the great honors I’ve received is the Bernard Kilgore award from SDX [now known as the Society of Professional Journalists]. I was a student at San Francisco State University and the award came with $2,500 check [ about $15,000 in 2102 dollars]. Robert W. Chandler, who was president of the SDX Foundation, presented the award. The award ceremony was in Chicago and at the head table I sat next to Clayton Kirkpatrick, editor of the Chicago Tribune. Here’s what I remember from that night: Kirkpatrick said that “if you ever want to work in Chicago, let me know.” Two years later, I did. But that’s a different story.
Here’s the irony of the that awards ceremony. Nelson Poynter, board chairman of the St. Petersburg Times, gave the keynote speech. This is years before he founded the Modern Media Institute, which later became The Poynter Institute and which I joined in 2003.
While I don’t remember his remarks, I think I must have heard them because his thoughts about how to improve the relationship between reader and editor. Poynter was ahead of his time.
“Today we need better two-way communications between reader and editor, between viewer and broadcaster. We are merely transient agents.” Poynter said. “The white space in the paper and time on the air belong to our clients.”