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38th Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Dinner

April 30, 2016, 6 PM cocktails, 7 PM dinner

at Drumlins Country Club, 800 Nottingham Road

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  • How Rolling Stone might win its high-stakes libel case
    Lawyers for Rolling Stone are surely playing a form of courtroom chess as the magazine defends itself in a Virginia court over its notorious University of Virginia gang rape story. In sum, they'd be smart to be thinking several moves ahead, contemplating the possibility of losing the high-stakes defamation trial, and perhaps having a possibly […]
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  • ‘Dear Donald:’ newspaper dedicates front to Trump letters during a Florida visit
    When Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump visits Tallahassee today, the local newspaper is hoping he'll do a little reading. On Tuesday, the Tallahassee Democrat published three letters to Trump on the front page and online. One comes from a young Republican, one from an entertainment writer at the newspaper, and one from the newspaper's editorial […]

Saundra Smokes

The Post-Standard


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 )
"Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of [achieving] a free society."
Felix Frankfurter, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court

Wall of Distinction

Fred Heyman


Herald American

The Post-Standard

At the age of only 15 years, Fred Heyman was hired by the Syracuse Herald as a copyboy in 1921. A staffing shortage a year later found young Fred covering a major fire in Syracuse.
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