SPJ congratulates Post-Dispatch, editor, for National Press Foundation award

Gilbert Bailon image

Gilbert Bailon (Photo courtesy Post-Dispatch)

Tear gas, rioting, fires, gunfire, anger, despair.


When events in north suburban St. Louis exploded into fragments of all these things subsequent to the police shooting of Michael Brown, reporters and photographers from the Post-Dispatch met them with the same uncertainty as anyone ill-prepared to believe such tensions could inflame their neighborhoods.

But when those tensions rose to attract world attention, the Post-Dispatch staff rose with them, and for that earned deserved recognition this week from the National Press Foundation when editor-in-chief Gilbert Bailon received the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award.

On its website, the foundation said, “If ever a newspaper and its editor faced a real-time stress test, it was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and editor Gilbert Bailon in 2014. … But (they) delivered for readers and the larger St. Louis community with a breadth of coverage that is truly impressive. Hundreds of stories, dozens of editorials, every piece of evidence — all were either there in print or on the paper’s website. Most striking were the photographs, often taken at great personal risk to the photographers.

“Through it all, Bailon was a strong presence both in his community and in the newsroom, fighting for access and striving to keep the coverage balanced and emotions in check.”

Bailon told SPJ that he was grateful for the honor but deflected the credit.

“It was above all a team effort,” he said. “This is an honor that belongs to everyone for all of their hard work, and it’s recognition that’s well deserved.”

Bailon has been the Post-Dispatch’s editor since 2012. Before that, he was the newspaper’s editorial page editor. Bailon came to St. Louis from the Dallas Morning News, where he was vice president and executive editor.

The National Press Foundation is based in Washington, D.C., and provides professional development and recognition to its 5,000-plus member editors, producers, and photographers. The Bradlee Award, the oldest award given to editors in the United States, is named after the great Watergate-era editor of the Washington Post. Bailon will receive the award at an NPF banquet in Washington in February.

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St. Louis Pro mourns the passing of Bryan Burwell

Bryan Burwell image

Bryan Burwell (Photo courtesy St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

A lion of St. Louis journalism is gone, and with him goes the roar loved by so many of his fans.

Bryan Burwell, an award-winning sports columnist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since 2002, died early Thursday. He was 59. The Post-Dispatch’s website, STLtoday.com, said Burwell was battling cancer at the time.

The St. Louis Pro Chapter of SPJ wishes to convey its deep regret and sadness over Bryan’s passing to his family, friends, and loyal fans.

Bryan, a former chapter member and self-described ink-stained wretch, joined the Post-Dispatch after a long career in newspapers interrupted occasionally by the bright lights of television and the big sounds of radio. Besides writing for the Post-Dispatch, his name had graced the pages of USA Today, The Detroit News, the New York Daily News, and New York Newsday.

In broadcast, Bryan served as a correspondent for HBO Sports, and his face and views appeared often on ESPN and Turner Sports. For a time, Bryan had a talk-radio show on CBS Sports Radio 920. He also inaugurated a video program for the Post-Dispatch called “Upon Further Review.” Bobbleheads and assorted sports trinkets decorated his production studio the Post-Dispatch built for him in its newsroom.

David Sheets, St. Louis Pro Chapter president and a former sports content editor at the Post-Dispatch, helped shepherd Bryan’s columns onto the Sports pages for seven years.

“Sports writing is a serious, difficult business for the men and women who do it daily, but no matter the deadline pressure Bryan was upbeat, kind and considerate,” Sheets said. “Whether he was reporting from the Olympics half a world away, or from a baseball game a few blocks away, Bryan always sounded like and acted like he was in the only spot — the perfect spot — for him to be.

“The sports world will suffer not just because it lost a great writer, but also because it lost a great person, a true fan of sports who loved mingling with other fans of sports.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

STLtoday.com posts reactions from around the country to Bryan Burwell’s death.

Frank Cusamano discusses Bryan Burwell on his radio show.

InsideSTL.com: Remembering Bryan Burwell.

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SPJ St. Louis commends journalists reporting on Ferguson

Glass. Gas. Bricks. Rocks. Flames. Freezing temperatures. Fear.


These are among the many obstacles St. Louis-area journalists struggled against Monday to report on grand jury findings in the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent civic outrage.

The journalists rushed into a dangerous zone between protestors and police to chronicle the turmoil and humanity of the night. They put their lives at risk to show what risks others were also taking to provoke or protect the Ferguson community. These journalists did this because it was central to their jobs.

None were arrested, thankfully. None were seriously injured, fortunately.

None expect the deeper tensions stirred by Brown’s shooting to ease from the passions released on one frenzied night.

That is why they will return every day, as they have since the shooting, to the scenes of violence, to the vigils for peace. They will help the St. Louis community find answers. They will serve as guides for other journalists outside the region. And they will continue to engage the community in the larger quest for truth and understanding.

The St. Louis Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists takes this opportunity to commend those who worked through Monday night and into Tuesday morning to advance awareness and understanding of the tragic circumstances unfolding in and around Ferguson. The list includes:

Professional journalists are community servants. Their ultimate goal is the strength and preservation of the republic. With their help, the citizens of the St. Louis region will see past their fear to the hope we all have for a better society. We owe them our thanks and our support for that.

David Sheets
St. Louis Pro Chapter

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SPJ members invited to Press Club’s annual meeting

Logo for The Press Club of Metropolitan St. LouisGood food and great networking are on the menu for the 58th Annual Meeting of The Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis on December 10, and SPJ members from across the region are invited.

The Press Club is a professional, social and charitable organization that serves as a resource for journalists and communications professionals. Its members not only report the news, but also make the news, and it strives to create unity and raise awareness between those two groups.

For several years, the Press Club also distributed a college scholarship sponsored by SPJ and given to mass communications majors who attended high school in the St. Louis area.

Each annual Press Club meeting features a light buffet and a guest speaker. This year’s scheduled speaker is Bill McClellan, a Post-Dispatch columnist and frequent guest on The Nine Network’s “Donnybrook” news forum.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at The Forest Park Highlands. Cost is $30 for Press Club members, $32 for non-members. Register by credit card at STLPressClub.org, by phone at 314-449-8029, by email at info(at)stlpressclub.org, or by regular mail with a check to The Press Club, P.O. Box 410522, St. Louis, MO 63141.

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