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Gannett Announces Winners of the ‘Unsung Heroes’ Award

McLEAN, VA – Winners of Gannett’s 16th annual “Unsung Heroes” award were announced today by Mimi A. Feller, senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations. They are:

    Karen Creamer, programming administrator, KSDK-TV, St. Louis. In the ever-changing world of television, Karen Creamer consistently has adjusted and improved the culture, product and environment. In her 16 years with KSDK-TV, Creamer has been the one to jump in and take on new projects and responsibilities. When assigned a new task, she streamlines the process – all while improving morale and completing the job on time. She has the loyalty, can-do attitude and pride that make her “one of those employees that everyone wants in their department.” She is the station’s “Super Woman” – with a never-empty dish of candy.
    Patricia Fitzgerald, marketing assistant, New York Marketing, USA TODAY. Her title says assistant, but “Fitz” is “the heart and soul of the New York Marketing Department.” She is office manager, organizer and spirit-raiser. She is constantly seeking ways to better the department, taking it upon herself to cut costs, handle daily office duties and make important business contacts. Clients go out of their way to praise her, while co-workers depend on her. She is devoted to her job and to USA TODAY.
    Donna Fonda, advertising operations manager, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. Unassuming, low-key, hard working and exemplary are just some of the words used to describe Fonda, who routinely supervises 94 people while also being the go-to person for difficult, complex and otherwise overwhelming projects. Fonda didn’t miss a beat when asked to supervise the reorganization of a 32 ft X 104 ft. area used by more than 50 people in her department. The implementation took place over a two-week period with no loss of daily productivity. Then she made sure everybody was working well together in the new arrangement. Throughout, Fonda kept doing her regular job, which included finding ways to save thousands of dollars.
    Valerie Hoeppner, assistant director of photography, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D. As a photojournalist, Hoeppner has made a career of going beyond the surface requirements of the job to produce award-winning and compelling images. She’ll spend hours gaining the confidence of a subject and days covering an event to take just the right picture. Then in her spare time, she mentors, counsels and educates other Native Americans who strive to be photojournalists. She helped design the curriculum and serves on the faculty of the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota; is a professional journalist mentor at the Native American Newspaper Careers Conference; and has personally helped young Native Americans either obtain equipment or decide on a career.
    Angelo Milazzo, Newspaper In Education (NIE) coordinator, Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y. A 42-year veteran of the company, Milazzo is committed to seeing children benefit from the use of newspapers in the classroom. As coordinator of the NIE program, he not only convinces schools to participate, but also gets businesses to subsidize the program. Milazzo’s self-motivation and strong ties to the business community have been the driving force behind the program, raising more than $25,000 and putting in excess of 137,000 newspapers in area schools last year. He is “an invaluable team player.”
    Ernie Owens, building supervisor, Palladium-Item, Richmond, Ind. “Ernie is a never-say-no kind of guy.” Work he’s asked to do is always started and completed before expected even when it’s not part of his job description. Asked to help co-workers by fixing flat tires or unlocking cars, he jumps on it. He’s made friends for the paper and even took a reporter out on his boat to get photos after a helicopter crashed into a lake. Further, he saved the paper money by moving air compressors out of the building which reduced heating and cooling costs.

Two Gannett employees received Honorable Mentions in the competition this year. They are:

    Diann Anderson, page planner, Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal. Anderson embraces change and does it with creativity and tenacity. She has coped with big changes, such as going from hand-drawn page dummies to paginated ones, and small ones: the day-to-day revisions of newspaper layout. She’s come up with solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems such as color capacity, all the while keeping an eye on customer service. “Diann is one of the most patient, dedicated employees I’ve encountered,” said one of her 12 nominators.
    Sheila Watson, page makeup coordinator, The Sheboygan (Wis.) Press. Watson has had one sick day in 35 years and that was because her supervisor made her go home. And she doesn’t just show up. Watson knows what advertisers want, reducing complaints about position; knows the ads, reducing errors; and knows what needs to be done, coming in on a day off to fix a problem. A true team player.

“Our unsung heroes this year have more than one trait in common: Not only are they dedicated workers who are loyal to Gannett but also they are great friends, devoted family members and ever helpful to coworkers. As always, I am proud to work with them,” said Douglas H. McCorkindale, chairman, president and CEO of Gannett Co., Inc.

The winners were selected from more than 40 nominations. Each winner will receive $1,000 and be honored at a reception Jan. 23 at corporate headquarters in McLean, Va.

Judges for the Unsung Heroes awards were McCorkindale; Feller; Richard Clapp, senior vice president/Human Resources; Craig Dubow, president and CEO of Gannett Broadcasting; Tom Curley, senior vice president/Administration and president and publisher of USA TODAY; and from the newspaper division, Gary Watson, president, and Craig Moon, executive vice president.