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39th Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Dinner

May 6, 2017, 6 PM cocktails, 7 PM dinner

at Drumlins Country Club, 800 Nottingham Road

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Saundra Smokes

The Post-Standard

Herald-Journal

Herald American

"I see through the eyes of a Christian, an African-American, a woman, a journalist, an aunt, a daughter. Someone who feels at ease with all kinds of people. I try to bring that varied perspective to my columns," says Saundra Smokes.

"Sandy," as she is known to friends and colleagues, became the first person of color in the history of the Syracuse Newspapers to sit on the Herald-Journal's editorial board in 1985. She also is the first person of color to write a full-time opinion column for the newspapers.

She has won numerous honors and awards as her career climbed from reporter to local columnist, to the editorial board, to syndicated columnist, and then back to The Post Standard as an editorial writer, copy editor, and editorial board member.

Upon her return to the editorial board in 2003, she initiated the series, "Taxpayers Held Hostage," which won a first place community service award from the New York State Publishers Association. Sandy also received awards for commentary (editorials and columns) in 1993 and 1994 from the Associated Press.

A Syracuse native, Sandy started writing while in elementary school and continued with soap operas about her middle-school classmates. After graduation, she attended the University of Buffalo. In 1978, she joined the Herald-Journal as a "copy kid," an employee who does all sorts of odd jobs in the newsroom. Soon, however, she began writing feature stories. She was promoted to reporter covering city and county news, and later, she became a copy editor.

In November 1992, a column on the outcome of the first trial of Los Angeles police officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King, was picked up by newspapers nationwide. The following year, Sandy began writing a regular opinion column for the Syracuse Newspapers.

Seven months after she began writing the local column, United Features Syndicate selected Sandy to write a column they would syndicate across the United States. Twenty-two newspapers picked up her work each week for eight years. In 2003, she returned to The Post-Standard to write editorials and work on the copy desk.

Her awards include the 1998 Urban League Harriet Tubman Award, the Ann Felton Memorial Award and Community Service Award from the Syracuse Chapter of the NAACP, Citizen of the Year from Omega Psi Phi fraternity at Syracuse University, the Great Leader Award from the Onondaga County Political Women?s Caucus, the Marjorie Dowdell Fortitude Award from Delta Sigma Theta fraternity at SU, and the Pit Bull Award from the Greater Syracuse Communications Group. She also received the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Stands Award.

Sandy also writes plays, including "A Tribute to Motown" and "In Our Own Backyard," and a video drama, "Daddy's Home," which won a Cable Ace award. --Joseph A. Porcello

 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 August 2012 20:44 )
 

"Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."--Hugo L Black, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court (Ruling that upheld the press’s right to publish the Pentagon Papers)

Wall of Distinction

The Syracuse press Club would like to send its condolences to the family of long-time channel 3 and WSYR radio reporter Jerry Barsha.  Barsha died September 10th at the Cleveland Clinic where he was undergoing treatment. He was 83.

Funeral services will be Tuesday at the Sisskind Funeral Chapel at 3175 East Genesee Street, Syracuse at 11am. Calling hours will immediately precede the services at the funeral home beginning at 10 am.

Jerry was a native of Brooklyn, who like many central New York broadcasters settled in the Syracuse area after attending and graduating Syracuse University.   Jerry's career at what was then WSYR-TV 3 and WSYR Radio began in 1957, where he worked in both radio and television news. Jerry worked for 32 years at the station before retiring.  He also taught for 35 years at Onondaga Community College.  Jerry was a Syracuse Press Club Wall of Distinction honoree and a winner of the club's lifetime achievement award. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Martha, four daughters, and six grandchildren.

Here is a link to our page on Jerry, when he was installed on the Wall of Distinction

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