The newest members of the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame are, from left, Walter V. Robinson of The Boston (Mass.) Globe; Curtiss Clark of The Newtown (Conn.) Bee; Chazy Dowaliby of The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass., and The Enterprise of Brockton Mass.; Stephen M. Mindich of the former Boston-based Phoenix Media/Communications Group; Susan Ovans of The Hull (Mass.) Times; and Tom Condon of The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
for journalism fueled
The six journalists inducted this year into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame represent a wide range of the news-media landscape -- from small community newspapers to major metro newspapers to the alternative press.
Despite that variety of newsroom backgrounds, all six seem to share a passion for what they did, and gratitude for having done it. They also seem to share optimism that, despite difficult times today for journalism, it will endure.
Those inducted are Walter V. Robinson of The Boston (Mass.) Globe; Curtiss Clark of The Newtown (Conn.) Bee; Tom Condon of The Hartford (Conn.) Courant; Chazy Dowaliby of The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass., and The Enterprise of Brockton Mass.; Stephen M. Mindich of the former Boston-based Phoenix Media/Communications Group; and Susan Ovans of The Hull (Mass.) Times.
The Hall of Fame honors “industry heroes whose talent, hard work, and exceptional accomplishments provide an inspiration to all New England journalists.”
The dinner ceremony was held Friday, Feb. 19, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel as part of the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s winter convention. About 75 people attended.
Walter Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, is now an editor at large for the Globe, where he began his journalism career in 1972 as an intern through the Northeastern University co-op program. He has maintained a desk at the Globe since then, serving in various roles, from reporter to editor and leader of the Spotlight investigative team. Robinson returned to his alma mater to teach investigative reporting from 2007 to 2014. He is now best known for breaking, with the Spotlight team, the story of the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, captured in the film “Spotlight.”
In his acceptance remarks, Robinson said he is nothing more than a “curious guy who always wanted to be a reporter,” and that he had a lot of good fortune throughout his career.
“I had the great good fortune to work for a newspaper that placed, and still does place, a high value on holding major institutions and powerful individuals accountable,” Robinson said. “And I had the great good fortune to have a career that coincided with the golden era of American newspapers.”
Curtiss Clark is the recently retired editor of the Newtown Bee. He is known in the Newtown community and beyond for his work on the Newtown shootings, in which Adam Lanza killed 20 6- and 7-year-old students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14, 2012.
Clark began his career with the Bee 43 years ago and took over as editor in 2007.
Clark spoke primarily about his work on the shootings: struggling to comprehend what to do in such a tragic situation, and ultimately being drawn back to the Bee’s mission to serve the community. He discussed the importance of the strength of the Newtown community during that trying time, but also about the Bee staff, which showed him that “opportunities for excellence don’t exist down some long career path or in some other celebrated place, but right where you are, right here, right now, even in the smallest of newsrooms.”
Tom Condon is a retired columnist, editor and reporter for the Hartford Courant who is still a freelancer for the Courant. He was employed at the Courant for more than 40 years, and produced columns so beloved that readers staged a protest outside the Courant offices when an editor tried to cancel them, according to Carolyn Lumsden, editorial page editor of the Courant. She nominated Condon for the Hall of Fame.
Condon had a particular interest in land-use policy and focused much of his writing on preserving the natural beauty of Connecticut.
Condon talked about the importance of local newspapers in communities, and his faith in the future of journalism at a time when many people are skeptical about its importance or integrity in the digital age.
“The profession still draws people who are smart, curious, skeptical, funny, and afflicted -- people who have to do this,” Condon said. “Now, they may end up practicing journalism on a watch or on their eyelids, but they will practice journalism.”
Chazy Dowaliby is retiring after 17 years as editor of the Patriot Ledger and Enterprise. Bill Kole, New England news editor for The Associated Press, who nominated her for the Hall of Fame, described Dowaliby as “scrappy, snarky, and wicked smart.”
Dowaliby spoke of her thrill at fulfilling her childhood dream to “be Lois Lane,” a reporter friendly with the Superman character in the comics, film and television. Although Dowaliby will be leaving the Patriot Ledger and Enterprise in March, she doesn’t think that anyone ever fully leaves the news business.
“It’s in us from the beginning and it will be with us through the end,” Dowaliby said.
Dowaliby discussed her confidence in the future of journalism as a profession. She said that although the mediums are changing, she does not think that the job is getting any more difficult than it has ever been.
“Nobody has ever welcomed tellers of truth, of uncomfortable truth,” Dowaliby said. “No one in our society has ever welcomed people who put lights in dark corners, who held the powerful accountable, and who raised the alarm when it needed to be raised. We’re just part of that tradition.”
Stephen Mindich was the then-owner and publisher of the former Boston Phoenix, Providence (R.I.) Phoenix, Portland (Maine) Phoenix, and Worcester (Mass.) Phoenix, a radio station and other holdings for more than 40 years.
Mindich emphasized the importance of facts, no matter the subject or style of writing, and the hard work that journalists put into every story they write. He also expressed his gratitude and excitement that his co-workers took the time to nominate him, a sentiment shared by his fellow new members of the Hall of Fame.
“That my friends are here tonight to share this with me is equally moving,” Mindich said. “It says that what I spent a lifetime doing … mattered to a lot of people.”
Susan Ovans is the owner, publisher and editor of the Hull Times, and has published a newspaper in Hull for about 30 years. She began her journalism career in 1979 as a contributor to the South Shore Chronicle’s society column, “Around Town with Betty Bee and her Girls” as “one of her girls.” She quickly worked her way up in the business, establishing her own publication, the Hull Newsweekly in 1986, which she has since merged with the Hull-Nantasket Times and renamed the Hull Times.
Ovans expressed her honor to be nominated by “some of her boys,” referring to some of her colleagues, many of whom she trained from the beginning of their careers, and spoke of her continued love of the profession. She recalled that she grew up with brothers, and how they always called her a tattletale. She noted that now she was being honored for the same quality that was once discouraged.
“I am a reporter first and always,” Ovans said. “Nearly 40 years later, I still love what I do. With luck, I will be a tattletale till the end.”
© Copyright 1998-2015 New England Newspaper and Press Association. All rights reserved.