Five for fightingWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Stop throwing your litter on my front porch.”
— Kristin K., Toledo
The Ohio chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has recognized Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star in several categories in its 2013 “Ohio’s Best Journalism” awards. For the fifth consecutive year, Toledo Free Press was named “Best Weekly Newspaper in Ohio.”
It is a small group of people that works to produce Toledo Free Press every week — people with families to support who believe this region is a good place to call home, a region that deserves a positive spotlight on its citizens and their struggle to improve their community. These people put in long hours for modest pay in part because they believe in the mission of Toledo Free Press: to remind people of the good things we have in Northwest Ohio and our responsibility to make it better for everyone, while providing contrast to the often negative voices in our community.
So when someone like Kristin K. — who can work up the indignation to refer to our efforts as “litter” but isn’t competent enough to include an address with her demand — lobs mean-spirited comments, it doesn’t anger me, it makes me sad. If, after nine years of TFP contributing to the community and trying to improve lives, including hers, Kristin K. can be that disrespectful and dismissive, we’re never going to reach her. If our award-winning writing and design, coupled with a commitment to local charities and causes, can be summed up in her mind as “litter,” there’s nothing we can do to change that.
And all the awards and recognition just kind of sit there on the shelf if people like Kristin K. aren’t impacted by the effort to make things better for the community.
I have no idea if Kristin has skimmed these pages and found something objectionable or if she’s never opened a bag that destroyed her weekend by landing on her porch. I doubt anything I say could change her mind, but I wonder if she’d feel differently if she knew some of the people who work here, and those who won state awards for their efforts.
Toledo Free Press Managing Editor Sarah Ottney was awarded first place for “Best Arts Profile” in the newspapers greater than 75,000 circulation category for her insightful and vivid profile of Toledo resident Barbara “Bobbie” John, who worked with the late Dick Clark on three television shows. It was the last piece written about John before she died, and it served as an unwitting eulogy of her life and work.
Former Staff Writer Caitlin McGlade won first place for “Best Newsmaker Profile” in the newspapers greater than 75,000 circulation category for her story “HipHop4Peace to benefit young victims’ family,” about shooting victims Ke’Ondra and Le’Ondra Hooks and local rappers who produced a benefit CD to help cover the family’s expenses. McGlade was granted hospital bedside access to the family, and told their story with empathy, clarity and compelling prose.
Both women competed against writers from Ohio’s daily newspapers in their categories, which amazes and gratifies me, even if that fact wouldn’t impress Kristin K.
The annual Toledo Free Press Mud Hens Opening Day special section earned second place for “Best Special Publication,” competing against the state’s daily newspapers. That 90-page effort is like jamming three weeks into three days, and Ottney’s leadership and sweat make it consistently the city’s best guide to Mud Hens Opening Day.
Toledo Free Press Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis won two major awards for his Toledo Free Press Star work in the category for newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation. McGinnis won first place in the “Best Columnist” category for his body of work and first place in “Best Arts Reporting” for his body of work.
McGinnis is as unassuming and modest as he is talented; it may be unprecedented for one person to win both of those awards in one year, but no doubt Kristin K. would dismiss the accomplishment with a curt wave of her hand.
Two for Molnar
Toledo Free Press Design Editor James A. Molnar won first place in the “Best Page One Design” category for his Toledo Free Press Star covers. Molnar was also named second-best graphic designer. We have long championed Molnar’s work, and this is the first year SPJ caught up with our admiration for it. By not unrolling that paper each week, Kristin K. is missing some of the state’s best design work.
Our SPJ Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in Columbus in October, but we’re already moving on to more coverage, more nonprofit events and more efforts to raise the tide for all boats in Northwest Ohio. Even those rowed by people like Kristin K. who don’t care if we sink or swim. Especially for people like her. Because whether she knows it or not, Kristin K. is navigating the same waters we are, and we all benefit from making the voyage smoother. It may not be fair that the results are the same for those who break their backs running the sails as they are for those lounging on the deck chairs, but dwelling on that defeats the spirit of community and cooperation.
So we’ll keep our five-time “Best Weekly Newspaper in Ohio” winner off of Kristin K.’s porch, once we find out where that is.
And start working on six And seven. And eight. And nine. And 10. And ….
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at mmiller@toledo freepress.com.
Tags: Best Weekly Newspaper in Ohio, Bobbie John, Caitlin McGlade, Dick Clark, James A. Molnar, Jeff McGinnis, Ke’Ondra Hooks, Le’Ondra Hooks, Lighting The Fuse, Michael S. Miller, Sarah Ottney, Society of Professional Journalists, Toledo Free Press, Toledo Free Press Star, Toledo Mud Hens