Plain Dealer Shut Out of Awards Because It Didn't Enter (Update)




Update: Clifford Anthony, whose title is "Immediate Past President" of the SPJ's Cleveland Pro Chapter, writes to let us know that the PD is, like, really really good buds to the SPJ. Enjoy:

We write to assure the readers of Scene that The Plain Dealer is a longtime, staunch supporter of the Society for Professional Journalists at the local, state and national levels.

Recent examples include:

· In April, the Plain Dealer held several workshops at its conference rooms for the SPJ Region 4 Conference. PD editors and reporters trained 100 plus young members of SPJ in research, investigative journalism, photo and video techniques, and more.

· Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett, a Pulitzer finalist, was the keynote speaker at the Region 4 Conference.

· Susan Goldberg, editor of The Plain Dealer, was the featured speaker at SPJ’s program titled “Newspapering in the Internet Age” on Feb. 19, 2009 at The City Club.

· In 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz was the keynote speaker at the Founders’ Day Dinner of the Central Ohio Pro Chapter of SPJ.

We urge all professional journalists to become actively engaged in SPJ, where we are committed to excellence.

Cliff Anthony, ­ Immediate Past President, Cleveland Pro Chapter

Claudia Taller, ­ President, Cleveland Pro Chapter

Mike Lorz, ¬≠Coordinator, Ohio’s Best Journalism, an awards program produced jointly by the Central Ohio, Cincinnati and Columbus chapters of SPJ.


The Ohio of Society of Professional Journalists announced annual award winners last month, and the Plain Dealer scored no wins. While Scene takes the occasional shot at the larger newspaper, we’re not naïve enough to think it didn’t deserve any. The lack of recognition struck us as curious.

After some internal debate, the SPJ told Scene the PD didn’t enter the contest. If it was a cost-cutting measure, it was a miserly one. Entries cost $30 each, and after a busy year covering the County Corruption Scandal and taking down Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul, the paper could have called its shots. $150 is a small price to pay for some prestige and morale.

PD Reader Representative Ted Diadun deferred to Editor Susan Goldberg to comment. Goldberg didn’t respond to Scene’s requests to explain why the paper didn’t compete. The PD editorial union rep was surprised the paper didn’t enter, but offered no further comment.

We did talk to an SPJ-winning Northeast Ohio journalist, who said, “I know and am friends with many of the fine journalists at the Plain Dealer, and they should have the opportunity to be honored for their journalistic contributions. Newspapers can—and do—use these distinctions as a marketing tool to promote their importance, which is needed in today's market.”

The Akron Beacon Journal took home 15 first- and second-place finishes, and the Toledo Blade, Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer split the remainder of honors in 33 categories. — D.X. Ferris

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