Editor’s Note: Chicago Tribune Pulitzer columnist Clarence Page will receive the Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award from the National Press Foundation on Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C. The following commentary appeared Feb. 6, in The Hill.)
You know you’re getting old when you’re watching a “historical” movie and suddenly realize, “Hey, that’s my life!” That thought crossed my mind while watching “The Post,” the Oscar-nominated retelling of the Washington Post’s Vietnam-era reporting of the Pentagon Papers.
My eyes constantly wandered to artifacts of that era before emails, Google, smartphones and laptops, to gaze nostalgically at the typewriters, teletypes, “copy boys,” typesetters and armies of trucks rolling out at dawn to drop off bundles of papers at newsstands. Ah, memories.
But news never sleeps. Although the principles and processes of reporting and storytelling have not changed since my days in journalism school, the tools and techniques of newsgathering and distribution constantly change in this digital age.
Those thoughts come to mind as I consider how deeply honored I am to receive the National Press Foundation’s 2017 W. M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism. As an editor on my high school’s biweekly newspaper in the 1960s, I admired the legacy of Willard Monroe Kiplinger, another Ohioan who graduated as a journalism student from Ohio State University in 1912.
During more than 50 years of reporting writing, editing and publishing before his death in 1967, Kiplinger built commercial success on a reputation for promoting high standards of journalistic integrity, performance, independence and service to readers. Beginning with the Kiplinger Letter in 1923, Kiplinger Washington Editors now publishes five newsletters, Kiplinger Magazine, books on economics, and an online news delivery service.
Back in my high school days, I would not have guessed that a half-century later I would be receiving an award in Kiplinger’s s name — or that my alma mater, Ohio University, would collaborate with the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.
But as pleasing as I might find nostalgia for the past, the Kiplinger program wisely looks to the future. Funded by the Kiplinger Foundation and family, it aims to help mid-career journalists update their knowledge and skills in our constantly changing industry.
In April, the 2018 class of Kiplinger fellows, made up of 16 journalists from around the world, will spend a week on the Ohio campus, receiving cutting-edge training on digital tools and tactics from leading industry experts. Topics include social media for reporting, branding and audience engagement, spreadsheets and data visualization, smartphone videography, and media ethics.
“After my Kiplinger fellowship, I returned to my newsroom energized in a way I haven’t been in years,” recalled former Fellow Kristen Graham of the Philadelphia Inquirer. She said she was equipped with “new skills that will help me deepen my reporting and reach more readers. What a terrific experience!”
I wish her and the rest of her rising generation of journalists well. Who knows? Someday, I am sure, someone will be making movies about them, too.