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Editor of the Year Paul Anger: “Of Course Journalism Matters”

Editor of the Year Paul Anger: “Of course journalism

Detroit Editor and Publisher Paul Anger reinforced the importance of journalism
in remarks he made at the National Press Foundation annual dinner Feb. 16, where
he received the 2009 Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. As Gannett
Chairman Craig Dubow said when the award was first announced: “We could
not be more proud of Paul and the entire team in Detroit.” NEWS WATCH
offers an edited version of Anger’s remarks.

Click here
if you would like to view the full video.

By Paul Anger, Editor and Publisher, Detroit Free Press

I am grateful for what this award means — to me, to my friends at the Detroit
Free Press and to Gannett, which coaches, encourages and demands watchdog reporting.

This award is also pretty unbelievable to me.

When I was 18 years old in Oshkosh, I was going to be a phy-ed teacher — or
maybe a lawyer. I really had no clue what I wanted to do.

Mom had a clue – she said, “lawyer!”

Then one night, Dad bought a beer at a bowling alley for the sports editor
of the newspaper.

He told Dad he was looking for a part-timer, and Dad said, “Well, I have
a son who plays baseball, and he’s good in English – how’s

So 43 years ago, I got started in newspapers — took bowling scores over the
telephone, covered high-school football. It was a way for me to stay close to
Sports, which I enjoyed.

But I’ve stayed with this for 43 years for much different reasons. I
think they’re the same ones so many of you journalists here stick with

I want to read you something …

On the same day the mayor of Detroit was convicted of three felonies, Detroit
Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson received a letter with an
enclosure, and we weren’t sure what to do with it.

The letter came from a reader named Michael Egren:

“I congratulate your team,” Mr. Egren said, “on helping to
expose the dysfunction and corruption in Detroit. I’d like to send a donation
of $100 as appreciation and to help defray those costs that are no longer supported
by advertising and sales.”

Mr. Egren had enclosed a check — and wouldn’t take it back.

I think that letter sums up why we’re in this business, this craft, this
calling, and why we will be for a long time to come.

There is nobody else who does what trained journalists do — dig up credible
information critical to an honest democracy. We’re an important check
and balance in our system of checks and balances.

Now make no mistake. Even as we deal with our economic issues, it is the information
that’s important. It’s not how we deliver it.

People will find great journalism — in print, on television, in their pockets,
on their phones, from their e-editions or their e-readers.

What we have to do is keep our newsgathering forces in place.

In Detroit, we cut back on our legacy costs. We had been driving about to the
moon and back in a little more than a week’s time home-delivering newspapers.

But we kept resources in our newsroom.

With all of the ways we can deliver information, this is the most exciting of
times for journalists — and we don’t have to wring our hands over what’s
changing or might change in the future with the print newspaper …

Look at it this way — the milkman doesn’t deliver fresh any more, and
doctors haven’t made house calls for decades. But we still get milk, and
we still get medicine.

We’re going to be OK as long as we have people like USA TODAY Publisher
Dave Hunke, … the architect of our new publishing model when he was in
Detroit …

And others like Free Press Senior Managing Editor Jeff Taylor and Steve Henderson,
who I mentioned, and Managing Editor Julie Topping and ME for Digital Media
Nancy Andrews …

And Free Press Washington reporters Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler.

People like them are why we’re going to be OK – and why I’m
up here.

I’d also like to recognize some family – stepson Scott Silverboard
and his very significant other, Shannon Roddy, both lawyers — my Mom would
be proud.

And my wife, Vickie. Among the many things we share is a passion for journalism.

She’s a marketing manager at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in
Detroit – and she’s been a newspaper reporter, she’s been
in television and radio …

And she knows a good story from a bad one – so I’m always working!

She makes me a better editor. (To Vickie) — Thank you.

This feels good here tonight – sure feels good to me – and this
night is wonderful nourishment for journalists. But what will sustain us is
how people out there feel.

I’d like to briefly read from an e-mail written by Pamela DeSalvo Landis
of Detroit to Editor & Publisher. Pamela Landis related how much she appreciated
Free Press reports about the mayor’s lies, and she said …

“I read a posting somewhere that bloggers are in touch with communities
more than newspapers. The poster wrote that analysis isn’t needed, that
we can read and learn all we want unfiltered.

Landis continued, “I disagree. When there is so much information out there
competing for my time, analysis becomes even more important. I need editors
— grownups with experience.

“Despite all the gloom and doom people in your industry must be feeling,
they should take note. Great reporting produces great stories that people will
be talking about for a long time.”

Folks, of course journalism matters — and it always will.

Last Modified: March 2010