By Kaylin Burris, Reporter
Every year, the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism awards the Missouri Honors Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. This award, which has been presented to numerous outstanding journalists since its creation in 1930, stands as a tribute to “advertising and public relations practitioners, business people, institutions and media organizations from around the world.” These journalists, selected by the faculty of the School of Journalism, are selected on the basis of “lifetime or superior achievement,” and are presented with an award each year at the University of Missouri Honors Medal Banquet.
After an hour of small talk and snacking in the Reynolds Alumni Center, David D. Kurpius, Dean of the School of Journalism, came to the podium. In his opening speech, Kurpius thanked various University staff and alumni for their contribution to the event, and then proceeded to introduce the medalists, saying, “Tonight is about admiring a group whose accomplishments inspire us in many ways.” This could not have been more true.
The first medalist to the stage was Meredith Artley, editor in chief of CNN digital, who claimed that she had “found a place, a home, to nurture that innovation” she had been given while cultivating her understanding of journalism at Mizzou in the 1990s. She encouraged journalists to impact the world through their work, finishing with an inspirational “it’s possible” at the end of her speech.
Next was Barbara Ehrenreich, author of 21 books and a social critic, who “sees the world through the lens of science.” Ehrenreich has helped create the Economic Hardship Reporting Project to change national views of poverty and economic insecurity, and after many years of work set her sights on a new impoverished group: poor journalists. “A journalist should be paid for their work,” she claimed, stating that her company works to raise money to pay journalists their earned amounts.
Other medalists include Rea Hederman, “a fighter for justice” against racial inequality and a Publisher for the New York Review of Books, as well as Gerd Ludwig, a photojournalist and documentary photographer whose images “serve as a humanitarian document for our world” through their aesthetic and touching presentations. Some medalists differed from the majority, such as Merrill Perlman, a former copy editor for the New York Times.
Still ohers were involved more in political affairs, such as Bill Plante, a senior White House correspondent for CBS News. Plante has had the pleasure of covering many pivotal events in America’s history, such as the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights movement, while also being able to personally meet and interview presidents throughout his lifetime, including current president Barack Obama. Plante’s job, at least in his view, was to “hold the nations leaders accountable.”
Another ambitious journalist, Yoani Sánchez, took her mission overseas to Cuban territory, where “information is synonymous with treason.” By risking her life, and spreading the news, Sánchez serves as a “true beacon of hope” for journalists in oppressed countries worldwide. After her came medalist Lincoln Stephens, whose “sense of social mission” led him to found The Marcus Graham Project in 2008, a program dedicated to bringing diversity to the advertising industry.
Finally, the Sports Journalism Institute medalists, vice president editorial director of TheUndefeated.com Leon Carter and ESPN event news editor Sandy Rosenbush, finished out the night with their speech, asking journalists to make an impact and effect the world, as is the journalistic way.