Better Newspaper Contest

2014 Award Winners

Hoosier State Press Association - The Indiana Publisher - Better Newspaper Contest

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Page 11 Ray Moscowitz Award Karla Bowsher Chronicle-Tribune (Marion) T he Chronicle-Tribune nominates Karla Bowsher for consideration for the Ray Moscowitz Award for stories published concerning the lack of proper financial record keeping by the city of Marion and the C-T's uncovering of withheld records. Most of the records dealt with loans related to economic development projects. To this point, the city has been able to account for only $1.2 million of a $3 million bond anticipation note to start construction of a never-built hockey arena. It also extended to the refinancing of some of debt related to the arena project, with the head of the city redevelopment commission saying she didn't know why the Marion administration asked for $1.3 million in refinancing money that she approved. The city also had scant records on how a local developer spent $2.5 million on a project meant to renovate a vacant YMCA into a boutique hotel. The project manager hired by the developer was the mayor's brother. Bowsher's work uncovered a city government unwilling or unable to make basic fiduciary public records available. The city released significant documents only after months of asking. The result has been a series of ongoing stories making the community aware of the troubling problem of a city government ducking accountability. David Penticuff Editor Chronicle-Tribune (Marion) 1998 State of Secrecy series, Evansville Courier & Press, The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne), The Indianapolis Star, The Star Press (Muncie), The Times (Munster), South Bend Tribune and the Tribune-Star (Terre Haute) 2004 Coverage of Johnson Memorial Hospital and Franklin school district closed- door meetings, Daily Journal (Franklin) 2005 Coverage of the actions of community government, The Banner (Knightstown) 2008 Jackson County Sheriff's Department transparency, Dan Davis, The Tribune (Seymour) 2009 Failing Kalab, Libby Keeling & Kate Braser, Evansville Courier & Press 2011 Duke Energy & Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission misdeeds, John Russell, The Indianapolis Star Greenfield-Central High School graduation rate inflation, Kristy Deer, Daily Reporter (Greenfield) 2012 For the Love of Children, Virginia Black & Mary Kate Malone, South Bend Tribune 2013 Indiana Economic Development Corp. bribing scandal, Alex Campbell & John Russell, The Indianapolis Star 2014 City of Marion financial recordkeeping, Karla Bowsher, Chronicle-Tribune (Marion) The Ray Moscowitz Award honors those who foster the advancement of the First Amend ment. It recog nizes jour nalistic achieve ment by a newspaper or news paper professional who succ eeded in opening records or meetings or otherwise lifting a veil of secrecy. Member newspapers may make nominations for this award given occasionally as endeavors merit it. Moscowitz winners Charlie Biggs Commitment to Community Award When Charlie Biggs, former publisher of The Hope Star-Journal, a past presi- dent of the HSPA Board of Directors, and longtime committee member and past chairman of the Newsroom Seminar Committee, died a few days before the 2003 Newsroom Seminar, the committee decided a permanent award should be named after him. Charlie lived his community. Few citi- zens, let alone newspaper professionals, get as deeply involved in the place they call home and make such a positive differ- ence. Charlie loved his hometown, wrote about it, talked about it and took part in its life. He cared. To honor Charlie and his commitment to community, the Newsroom Seminar Committee created this award to rec- ognize others who serve as he did. The award recognizes Indiana newspaper personnel who: • Write or publish stories about the com- munities they serve, • Are involved in the life of the commu- nity; and/or • Demonstrate they make a difference in the community through journalistic efforts. Biggs winners 2004 – Jim Barbieri, Bluffton News-Banner (first winner) 2005 – Bob Dickson, The Alexandria Times-Tribune 2006 – Randy West, The Corydon Democrat 2007 – George O. Witwer, KPC Media Group: The News-Sun (Kendallville); The Evening Star (Auburn); The Herald Republican (Angola) 2008 – Lilian Carmer, North Vernon Plain Dealer 2009 – Harry McCawley, The Republic (Columbus) 2010 – No award given. 2011 – Bob Kriebel, Journal & Courier (Lafayette) 2012 – Patrick Lanman, Vevay Newspapers Inc. 2013 – Dick and Carolyn Konstanzer, News-Examiner (Connersville) 2014 – Jack Ronald, The Commercial Review (Portland) Jack Ronald The Commercial Review (Portland) T hough his parents started a weekly newspaper, The Graphic, in Portland, Ind., on his first birthday, Jack Ronald never had any plans to be a journalist or a long-term resident of his hometown. His parents' publication later merged with The Commercial Review, and when there was an opening in 1974, Jack decided to give it a try. But he and his wife Connie agreed they would stay for no more than five years. Forty year's later, he's still here. "Obviously we haven't moved on to other things because he's found everything he's needed here in the community," Connie said. That commitment to both The Commercial Review and the Portland and Jay County communities makes Jack the ideal candidate for the Charlie Biggs Commitment to Community Award. Jack Ronald was born and raised in Portland. After college he got married and moved back to his hometown, where he raised his three daughters. And he's built a 40-years- and-counting career, having won a variety of awards, including best editorial writer from the HSPA Foundation in 2013, along the way. He won the Indiana Journalism Award from Ball State University in 2004 and was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 2013. But his value to the city, the county and the surrounding area are so much greater than just that of a writer, photographer, editor and publisher. Jack's civic involvement began shortly after he returned home, as he joined Portland Rotary Club in 1975 and has been a member ever since. That same year, he began a six-year run as director of United Way of Jay County. The former APME president (1980-82) was a founding director of the Jay County Arts Council from 1976 to 1980 and was instrumental in the creation of Arts Place, a regional arts center headquartered in Portland that offers music, art and theatre programming for all ages. He served on the council's exhibits panel from 1994-98 and is currently on the Arts Place board of directors. Jack was a driving force in the formation of the Jay County AIDS Task Force in 1994, serving as its first president. He was also instrumental in the development and creation of John Jay Center for Learning. The post-secondary educational organization, for which he served on the board of directors for seven years, now offers courses through Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University and Ivy Tech. He has also been president of the Portland Area Chamber of Commerce (1988), The Portland Foundation (1988- 94) and Portland 2000 (1988-92). Other organizations he has served with include Jay County Development Corporation and Friends of the Limberlost. Jack is a staunch supporter of Community and Family Services in Jay County, and has participated in The Commercial Review's now annual Promen-Aid event that collects food and money for a local food bank. He so loves his hometown that he is responsible for its slogan: Portland – A place to grow. And he was Jay County's Citizen of the Year in 2007. Area leaders tout his impact: Doug Inman, executive director of The Portland Foundation and county commissioner-elect: "Jack Ronald has been a leader in the community for many years. As publisher of The Commercial Review he ensures that citizens are kept up to date on local, state, national and international issues that affect their lives. As a citizen of the community he has volunteered countless hours. Jack Ronald has indeed made a positive difference in his hometown." Milo Miller Jr., six-term county commissioner: "He keeps everyone well informed, and he's dedicated to it. I know he could probably go someplace and make more money being an editor for a big newspaper, but he chose to stay here where his roots were. It's been good for the community." Phil Ford, former Jay County High School principal: "Jack Ronald's continued activism through his involvement in numerous organizations within the county as well as his published columns and coverage in The Commercial Review give a voice and a presence that would be void if not for his genuine, demonstrated love for his community. Jack has a sense of history and tradition, mixed with a desire to gently push the community progressively forward." After 40 years in the business, Jack is still active in the everyday operation of The Commercial Review. He covers Jay School Board meetings, writes feature stories and shoots photos. On a weekend in July, he and Connie even spent several hours with pruning sheers and rakes as they sculpted the grounds around the newspaper office. He writes a weekly column for the Opinion page and pens the newspaper's editorials. It is in those areas that he has been instrumental to spurring on such community projects as the construction of a new Jay County Public Library in Portland in the 1990s and a new Portland Pool. He is not afraid to prod townspeople on the opinion page in an effort to make Portland even better in the future. He is often a cheerleader, sometimes a critic, but always focused on leading his community in the right direction. Even in what has been a challenging time for newspapers, Jack's decisions are based less on dollars and cents and more on how best we can serve our readers. Perhaps the best illustration of Jack's commitment and love for his community came in June following a meeting of the Portland Rotary Club. At the conclusion of the meeting, a fellow club member who had two Italian businessmen as his guests approached Jack. They were looking for a place to locate their headquarters and asked Jack to give them a 30-second speech about the positives of Portland and Jay County. They picked the wrong man. There's no way Jack could limit his praise for his hometown to just 30 seconds. His sales pitch lasted a solid 10 minutes. If time had permitted, Jack certainly could have gone on for another 10 minutes, and probably another 10 after that. This award is affectionately known as "The Charlie" in honor of the man who made such an impact at The Hope Star-Journal and in the Hope, Ind., community. For those of us in Portland, Jay County and the surrounding areas, it would make just as much sense if the award were called "The Jack." That's why we're proud to nominate Jack Ronald for the 2014 Charlie Biggs Commitment to Community Award. There are many hard-working journalists throughout the state, but it's hard for us to imagine one being more worthy of this honor than Jack. Ray Cooney Managing editor The Commercial Review (Portland)

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