Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Page Gets Lifetime Honor at Columnists Conference

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Page Gets Lifetime Honor at Columnists Conference

Article excerpt

It was a big night for Ohio at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference Saturday, as Dayton native Clarence Page won the NSNC Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award, Columbus Dispatch columnist Mike Harden received the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, and a former Toledo Blade columnist was one of six first-place winners of the NSNC column contest.

Page, the Chicago Tribune columnist syndicated by Tribune Media Services (TMS), thanked the NSNC for the Pyle award while noting that a lifetime honor is "an occasion for mixed feelings. There's no denying I'm getting old, but I hope I have a few more miles on the tire treads!"

The 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner recalled that he was hired by the Tribune in 1969 partly because the paper was trying to diversify its almost all-white newsroom.

"Some were concerned I might be a little 'militant' for the Tribune," said Page, noting that his look back then included a lot of hair, a walrus mustache, a goatee, a dashiki, and jeans. But the paper took him on, and Page compromised by buying a more traditional suit.

Page became a Tribune columnist in the 1980s. "I was itching to give my opinions," he said, adding that columnists get an opportunity "to make sense out of the news" (quoting Ellen Goodman) and "explain things" (quoting the late Mike Royko.

Also, Page welcomed the challenge of "reaching the coveted place every journalist wants to be -- attached to the refrigerator doors of readers." And he loves the challenge of trying to come up with a great column when a huge story breaks, such as 9/11. Page noted that Leonard Pitts Jr. of The Miami Herald and TMS wrote the best post 9/11 column (the one that memorably addressed the hijackers as "you bastards").

Page also expressed sympathy for Pitts, who, this month, received many hostile calls and letters after his home address and phone number were published on a white-supremacist Web site.

And Page praised the man his lifetime honor is named for. "I have the highest regard for Ernie Pyle," said Page. "He was an ordinary guy who had a gift and used it to bring the war home." Pyle died while covering World War II.

Harden won the Will Rogers award for his many efforts to help less-advantaged residents in and near Columbus. …

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