Wall of Distinction

The Wall of Distinction

History

 

The Wall of Distinction is where outstanding journalists in Central New York are permanently enshrined. The Syracuse Press Club’s Wall of Distinction is located in the theater lobby of the John H. Mulroy Civic Center in downtown Syracuse.

First proposed by SPC President Jeff Paston, the Wall of Distinction became reality during President Chris Weidman’s administration. In between, President Tracy Carmen appointed Joe Porcello, Bob Greabell, Marilyn Dietz Nicholson and Paston to a committee to get the project going.

With help from Onondaga County Executive Nick Pirro, the Wall was placed in the Civic Center building. The first group of inductees was installed on Dec. 4, 2000. In addition to inductees, a large plaque commemorates the SPC’s 50th anniversary with the club presidents from 1951 to 2001.

2019 - John O'Brien

Former Post-Standard investigative reporter

This year’s Wall of Distinction honoree is a Post-Standard veteran who managed to earn both a reputation as an esteemed investigative reporter and as the “greatest prankster the newsroom ever had.”  The Syracuse Press Club selected John O’Brien for its top honor, to be awarded at the 41st Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Banquet.

His plaque will be displayed in the Onondaga County Civic Center. O’Brien, who worked at The Post-Standard for nearly 30 years, earned a reputation as a watchdog on the crime and courts beat. His coverage of wrongful convictions and exposure of prison conditions won numerous awards from the Syracuse Press Club, NYS Associated Press Association, New York News Publishers Association and the New York State Bar Association.

In 2017, O’Brien left The Post- Standard to put the investigative skills he honed as a journalist to public service. He works as an investigator at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Syracuse.

2018 - Dan Cummings

WSYR-TV NewsChannel 9

Born and raised in southern Cayuga County, the broadcasting bug hit Dan Cummings early. He grew up hearing 62-WHEN radio on the school bus during his daily commutes. Soon thereafter, he would visit his brother at Cornell who worked at the local radio station.

Those early morning bus rides, along with visits to his brother, helped open up a whole new world for Dan. His brush with greatness in broadcasting came early. It was 40 years ago this spring. He was working a shift at WTKO radio in Ithaca when the phone rang. On the other end was then-competitor Bill Carey. At that time he was news director of 62-WHEN, not yet the local news legend and Syracuse Press Club Wall of Distinction member.

The conversation helped change the course of Dan’s life and career. Bill offered him a job and Dan accepted. It was the start of a long friendship and launched Dan into the “big leagues.”  He would go onto to work for Bill for a number of years. He was honing his craft. Learning what worked and what didn’t. He, of course, always had to make sure he didn’t indent his copy on the yellow canary paper.  Dan later recalled that Bill would often tap his shoulder and say, in his trademark deep voice: “Dan, we don’t indent here.” 

Cummings eventually left radio to attend Cornell University and earn his master’s degree, but his time outside of news was short-lived. He took an assignment editor opening at 62-WHEN radio when Bill called a second time in 1983.

2017 - Mike Connor

Syracuse Post-Standard

Mike Connor grew up in a home where there were always newspapers around. A college student during the Vietnam War, he became a daily reader of The New York Times. He credits his interest in journalism as a career to a passionate lecture by Seymour Hersh.

Upon graduating from Cornell University in 1975, Connor began his journalism career at his hometown radio station, WMBO in Auburn, but his heart was always in newspapers. After a half-year as a stringer with The Post-Standard, covering meetings in Weedsport and nearby communities, Connor was offered a full-time position as a reporter in the paper’s Oneida bureau. It paid $160 a week. He eagerly accepted.

Connor went on to become the executive editor of The Post-Standard and spent 37 years with the company. He led The Post-Standard through the merger of both papers’ news staffs, then into the digital revolution at Syracuse.

Throughout, he emphasized high-impact watchdog reporting and exemplary writing and photography that won the newspaper nationwide attention.

Connor, an Auburn native, left the newsroom in May 2013. He is a program associate at the Park Foundation in Ithaca, helping direct the foundation’s funds to news organizations. Connor received the Press Club’s Bliven-Ganley-Rossi Career Achievement award in 2012 and its Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award in 2004.

2016 - Art Zimmer

Syracuse New Times

Publisher Art Zimmer purchased the New Times in 1986, rescuing the frequently broke publication from a pending shut down. He set the weekly on a course of commercial, artistic and editorial success. During his 26 years as publisher, The New Times won more than 250 awards from local, state and national groups.

The New Times continued to earn awards for its editorial content and its often innovative design. Art expanded his business interests to reviving a motorcar company that just happened to bear his name. Customers for Zimmers included Shaquille O’Neil and the sons of Saddam Hussein.

In 2010, Art sold The New Times to William Brod. Art remains busy with non-profits and producing a map and business guide for Hamilton, N.Y.

2015 - Carrie Lazarus

WSYR-TV Newschannel 9

Carrie Lazarus is an award-winning anchor and reporter for NewsChannel 9 WSYR-TV. A graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, Carrie got her start in news as a student reporter at WHEN Radio, hired by legendary Syracuse reporter and Wall of Distinction honoree Bill Carey. After college, she launched her television career at WTVH-TV Newscenter 5, working alongside legendary anchor Ron Curtis.

At WIXT-TV (now WSYR-TV), Carrie’s Family Healthcast was one of the first daily local health and fitness reports in the nation, bringing viewers the latest in health, fitness, and family news since 1986. She also hosted the award-winning “Carrie Lazarus Presents: Extraordinary People and Places of Central New York.” Carrie and her co-anchor, Rod Wood, were one of the longest-serving news teams in the nation, with more than 25 years as a team. They were inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2011. Carrie was also honored in 2004 with the Syracuse Press Club’s Bliven- Ganley-Rossi Award for Career Achievement.

2014 - Sean Kirst

FORMERLY SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD​

Sean Kirst has been among the best journalists in Central New York since he was hired in 1988 to work in the Oswego Bureau of The Post-Standard. A native of Dunkirk, N.Y, Kirst worked at Syracuse newspapers for 27 years, most of that time as a columnist for The Post-Standard. He is the recipient of many journalism awards, including the Ernie Pyle Award, given annually to one American journalist for writing about the dreams and struggles of everyday people. Kirst’s “The Soul of Central New York,” a collection of stories and observations about greater Syracuse published in 2016, became the fastest-selling book in the 76-year history of the Syracuse University Press. 

2011-2013 Wall of Distinction

No inductees awarded.

2010 - Robert Atkinson

The post-standard

Atkinson was a reporter and editor with The Post-Standard since starting in 1954 as its Saranac Lake correspondent. Eleven short years later, in 1965, he’d worked his way through its ranks to become managing editor, directing the paper’s entire news operation. In 1981, he was promoted to executive editor, putting him in charge of not only the paper’s news operation but its editorial voice as well.

By the time he retired in 1993, Bob Atkinson had served 28 of his 39 years at the paper either as its top editor or its second-ranking editor. Under his leadership as ex-executive editor, The Post-Standard distinguished itself with numerous stories that won state and national awards, and more importantly served the citizens of Central New York.

Among that outstanding work was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, a five-part series published in 1992 documenting how poor medical care in New York State prisons made them the nation’s deadliest.

Atkinson was also at the helm of The Post-Standard in 1991 as the paper published a two-part investigation that revealed NCAA violations in the recruiting of basketball players by Syracuse University. That series, “Out of Bounds,” resulted in sanctions against the basketball team, demonstrating Atkinson’s great journalistic courage. He published a series of stories that he knew would evoke a backlash against the paper in Central New York, a community head-over-heels in love with its big-league college home team.

An earlier example, among scores that demonstrated similar excellence in journalism, was a two-part series published in 1984 entitled “Missing from Action.” The series, by Thomas Heath, chronicled how most of Syracuse’s City Housing Inspectors at that time falsified their daily work records so they could loaf, run personal errands, play golf, and even hold down other jobs. Heath’s story was accompanied by photos of the absent workers. It was an award- winning effort so good that it played a key role in Heath being hired as a reporter at the Washington Post, where he remains today.

While Atkinson was executive editor of The Post-Standard, Al Neuharth, then chairman of Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain and founder of the Freedom Forum, wrote in USA Today, a newspaper Neuharth created, that The Post-Standard was one of the 10 best newspapers with a circulation of less than 100,000 in the United States.

2010 - John Krauss

wrvo-fm in oswego

WRVO GM John Krauss completed 41+ years with WRVO on April 1, 2010. Krauss started at WRVO on the day the station signed on, January 6, 1969. As the station grew from that initial spark, he worked with his mentor Bill Shigley, a small staff and college administrators who saw a big future for the fledgling station.

WRVO increased its power to 1000 watts and joined NPR in January 1973 with the beginning of all – year service. To that point, WRVO only operated when school was in session. Krauss was WRVO’s first news director and eventually worked his way though all areas of the operation. He was the station’s first morning host and later the long -time producer and host of its old-time radio program, The WRVO Playhouse.

In 1976, WRVO increased its transmitter size again to 24,000 watts and began to serve the Syracuse region from its SUNY-Oswego home. The concept of listener-supported radio was growing nationally and WRVO was no exception. Growth was de-pendent on the partnership between the listener and the college. During 1977, Krauss guided the WRVO staff of five in its first on-air fund-raising event.
By the mid 80’s WRVO had expanded its coverage area with transmitters in Watertown and Utica and Krauss became WRVO’s assistant station Man-ager, focusing on business operations and development activities. A decade later, Bill Shigley, WRVO’s first General Manager retired and Krauss began a 16-year tenure as the station’s leader.
During his tenure, WRVO’s audience doubled and that growth led to increased listener and business financial contributions. WRVO became a 50,000 watt HD station and began WRVO Extra, a second news service. Combined with con-tinued strong College support and federal funds through the Corporation for Public Broad-casting, WRVO became a very significant player in the Cen-tral New York media market.
WRVO’s reporters painted pictures with sound exploring why something happened and how it affected the listener. Krauss lead his staff to look beyond the front yard and take in all that could be seen in Central New York. The WRVO style took the news apart and then put it all together so the listeners could understand how it would affect them. John Krauss is part of a generation of WRVO public radio pioneers. WRVO began its focus on ideas long before news became the leading format for NPR stations.
Consistently ranking in the top 8 radio stations in Syracuse, WRVO became the premiere NPR News station for the region. Krauss left a staff, now 17 strong, to continue delivering a quality radio service. Nationally, WRVO places in the top 15 NPR most listened to stations based on percentage of population.

2010 - Janis Barth

The Post-standard

After starting her journalism career in the 1970s as a radio reporter in the North Country, Barth became the part-time North Country reporter for the Syracuse Herald-Journal/Herald American and Post-Standard in 1978. In January 1990, Barth moved into the main newsroom of the afternoon Herald-Journal and Sunday Herald American to be-come a city desk reporter. A few months later, she was promoted to assistant city editor. It wasn’t long before her talents catapulted her over her colleagues to the position of city editor itself, a position she accepted in November 1992. Janis Barth continued as city editor after the news staffs of the Herald-Journal and The Post-Standard merged in 1996. In that capacity, she provided the leadership for the papers’ Onondaga County re-porting staff. Under that leadership, her reporters undertook many ambitious and award-winning stories of the sort that go to the very heart of great journalism: stories that comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Here’s one striking example: In July 1993 , Jon Craig and Hart Seely wrote a series of articles entitled “Beaten by the System,” which outlined physical and mental abuses that were taking place be-hind closed doors in residential facilities run by the New York State Division for Youth, the state’s prison system for youthful offenders. The Herald-Journal won national journalism awards from Women in Communication and Children’s Express, and several state awards from the Publisher’s Association and Associated Press for that series. It was an exposé that toppled the management at two DFY facilities and prompted changes that eventually resulted in the state’s disbanding its Division for Youth. Craig and Seely worked six months – a full man-year – on the series, always under the guidance of Barth. As city editor, she juggled her considerable duties and gave Seely and Craig the time, motivation and courage to keep going. She was the prime mover and final arbiter of every word and phrase of the series. 

Barth left her post as city editor of The Post-Standard and Herald-Journal to become assistant managing editor/regional of the two dailies. As such, she took on responsibility for coverage of news in the counties of Central New York outside Onondaga County. She did so with the same distinction she had shown as city editor. In 2005, she was promoted to managing editor.

2010 - Ron Lombard

Spectrum news (ynn), wsyr Radio

Ron Lombard is the general manager and news director of YNN, Time Warner Cable’s 24-hour local news channel serving Central New York, Northern New York, and the Southern Tier.

Ron was hired by Time Warner to oversee the 2003 launch of the channel, then known as News 10 Now. He leads a team of nearly 70 journalists and technicians who cover the news and weather in a 24-county, 15,000 square mile view-ing area stretching from Steuben County to Lake Champlain.

Ron manages YNN’s operations from the channel’s headquarters facility, the historic New York Central train station on Erie Boulevard in downtown Syracuse. 

For 15 years prior to joining Time Warner Cable, Ron worked at WIXT (now WSYR) NewsChannel 9 and was news director there from 1991 to 2001, following stints as assignment editor and assistant news director. As part of his duties for the station’s then-owner Ackerley Communications, Ron was director of news development, overseeing news operations for that company’s six Upstate New York stations. He also served as acting General Manager of WUTR-TV in Utica.

Before joining NewsChannel 9, Ron was a radio news reporter and anchor, including four years at WSYR-Radio, where he won a number of local and statewide awards for spot news coverage and investigative reporting. He is past-president of the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters’ Association. Ron is a member of the Radio-Television Digital News Association and the Syracuse Press Club.

In 2005, the Press Club honored Ron with its Career Achievement Award.
Ron earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. In 1994, the university named him an Outstanding Young Alumnus. He is a 2006 graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse and serves on that group’s board of directors. He is also on the board of the McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Site in Syracuse, and is active in the leadership of Brewerton United Methodist Church.

Ron grew up in Lakeland and graduated from Solvay High School. He and his wife Deb have been married 27 years and live in Brewerton with their 16-year old daughter Abby.

2010 - Hart Seely

The Post-standard

What does Hart Seely do? The question should be, what doesn’t he do? He’s been a reporter and masterful writer for the Post-Standard for more than three decades. Some of the other titles he’s earned are author, essayist, humorist, political commentator, broadcaster and foreign correspondent.

Let’s elaborate on those in reverse order: Hart was em-bedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq during two reporting trips in 2005 and 2006; he’s heard on National Public Radio, reading and commenting on his work.

In his most recent book, “Mrs. Goose Goes to Washington: Nursery Rhymes for the Political Barnyard,” Hart Seely turns classic verses for children into hilarious commentary on our nation’s leaders. Sometimes he lets leader-generated silliness speak for itself, as it did in his 2003 work, “Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld.”

Seely’s humor and satire have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, National Lampoon, and on National Public Radio. He is the editor of Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld and coeditor (with Tom Peyer) of O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto. Seely lives in beautiful Syracuse, New York, with his wife and three children.

2009 Wall of Distinction inductees

Under construction

2008 - J. Luther Sylvahn

The Progressive Herald

In the predominantly black neighborhood that once stood in the old 15th Ward on the eastern edge of downtown Syracuse, J. Luther Sylvahn was the picture of refinement. He played classical music on the violin. He had an extensive personal library. He wore felt hats with the brim side down and sported a Vandyke beard. He invested in real estate and dabbled in politics. And from 1933 to 1958, he gave voice to the local black community by publishing a weekly newspaper called the Progressive Herald.

The newspaper had a major impact on politics in the 15th Ward and beyond. Syracuse resident Marjory Wilkins said she looked forward to each week’s edition and read the paper carefully. “The daily papers at the time didn’t carry news of the black community… unless it was bad news, ” she said. “He (Sylvahn) pretty much told it like it was and people appreciated that.” In a 1954 editorial, for example, here’s what Sylvahn wrote about a proposal to build a housing project for blacks in either Fairmount or Salina: “We don’t believe there are any Negroes in Syracuse stupid enough to want to bring any Jim Crow patterns with all of the unequal and second rate facilities and public services that would certainly accompany it, to this area.” He was suspicious of “self-appointed reformers” who wanted to clean up the 15th Ward. “… this group will save you even if they kill you to do it!” he wrote. “The fact that an 88 year old widow who can only pay $15 per month for rent will be set into the streets two weeks hence because the reformers got the house in which she lived condemned makes no difference to them!”

Publishing The Progressive Herald was strictly a labor of love. Sylvahn, who died in 1977 at age 75, published the paper out of a red brick building at 815 E. Fayette St. – now the site of the Kennedy Square apartments – that served as both his home and office. “The office was part of his flat, “Syracuse native John A. Williams wrote in “Flashbacks, ” a book published in the early 1970s. “Piles of Progressive Heralds rose from floor to ceiling and the place reeked of newsprint and stale paper.”

The Progressive Herald was the first place Williams saw his words in print. “He (Sylvahn) was smart enough to realize I wanted a chance to write, and he let me do it, ” Williams said.

Sylvahn was born in Alexandria, La. He attended Southern University of Baton Rouge, La., and Fisk University in Tennessee. ‘An astute businessman’ He bought several apartment buildings and rooming houses in the 15th Ward and made a living renting and managing them. Sylvahn founded the Progressive Herald in 1933. It was Syracuse’s second black newspaper. The first, the Impartial Citizen, was founded in 1848 and folded after two years.

2008 - Ron Graeff (Hastings)​

WSTM-TV

Ron Graeff is better known to viewers across Central New York as Ron Hastings. It was the name he used  on the air during a career in journalism that began during his days at Syracuse University. There he served as managing editor of the Daily Orange during 1966.

A year later, Ron joined the staff of Channel 3 here in Syracuse.  For the next 22 years Ron served as a reporter or anchor during coverage of major events in Syracuse and surrounding communities.  Among the highlights of a long and rewarding career, Ron was honored a number of times by the Syracuse Press Club for his work.  He also received the club’s Professional Standards Award in 1982.   

Some of his best work has been in documentaries. He was recognized by the Associated Press with a Best Documentary Award for his look at Allied Chemical.  He also was honored by the American Cancer society for his work on a documentary on colon cancer.  Ron’s documentaries also tackled the scourge of drug abuse. 

Ron stopped working in television news in 1989.  With the exception of a brief return to channel 3 in 1998 as Executive Editor, Ron’s focus since has been on teaching.   For eight years he served as a Visiting Professor of Broadcast Journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Ron also taught for a year at LeMoyne College.  Since 2000, Ron Graeff has been inspiring students at SUNY Oswego.

In addition to his role as Assistant Professor of Communications Studies, Ron is advising the students who work on, and run the college’s student television and radio stations.   In 2003 he was named Outstanding Faculty Advisor for his work with the students of WNYO-FM, and in 2006 for his work advising the students of WTOP-TV.

Ron’s teaching is not just confined to college students. Since 1989 Ron has worked for Eric Mower and Associates as a counselor to the firm’s public relations spokespersons.    

The Press Club is proud that Ron stands among the ranks of its past presidents. Ron’s contributions to the local labor union that represents many broadcast employees in Syracuse earned him The Dworkin Service and Brotherhood Award for NABET Local 211.

2008 - Maureen Green

WTVH-TV (Channel 5) and WIXT-TV (Channel 9)

Like a lot of Central New Yorkers, Maureen Green came here for the educational opportunities and then never left. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Maureen came to Syracuse for graduate work at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications.

Upon graduation Maureen took a job with WIXT, Channel 9 as a reporter. Not long after that first job, Maureen was hired by WTVH, Newscenter 5. Maureen’s ability to communicate with an audience, and her pleasant, easy-going style led management to put Maureen in the anchor chair next to the legendary Ron Curtis for the Newscenter 5 News at Noon. She was part of a broadcast that at times pulled 50-60 percent of the audience in those days in the early and mid 1980’s. A time before cable’s reach became so pervasive.

Soon after, Maureen was promoted and joined Ron Curtis on Newscenter 5 at 6. As the local news content of WTVH expanded to an hour, then 90 minutes, Maureen’s role ion the broadcast did as well. With Ron Curtis, she became the face of Newscenter 5. In 1993 she went to WIXT for three years as an anchor, before returning in 1996 to WTVH. When Ron retired in 2000, she became the senior anchor on WTVH.

Maureen has proved to be an excellent communicator and ambassador for her station. The best examples of Maureen’s relationship with the audience can be seen during channel 5’s many live ‘remotes’ from communities around Central New York and a favorite of viewers when they visited the TV5 broadcast at the New York State Fair.

She was a fixture on election night coverage, numerous specials, and a comforting presence on the air in time of tragedy. She traveled to Northern Ireland for a special on Project Children, which sent kids from that troubled region to spend a summer in Central New York. Maureen was also on the anchor desk delivering the news on such stories as he Labor Day Storm, 9/11, economic booms and busts, and SU trips to the Final 4.

Maureen has garnered numerous awards from the state Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the Syracuse Press Club. She received the Press Club’s Gus Bliven-Joe Ganley-Mario Rossi Career Achievement Award in 2005. Maureen has also been named one of the Syracuse Newspapers Movers and Shakers of 1987, Women in Communications Communicator of the year in 1993.—Lou Gulino

2008 - Tim Bunn

Syracuse Post-Standard

Timothy Bunn, a native Syracusan, recently retired in February 2007 from The Post-Standard after a 33-year newspaper career. Twenty-six of those years were spent working in Syracuse, for the evening Herald-Journal, Sunday Herald American and The Post-Standard.

Bunn, a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, began his career as a copy editor at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, where he worked for five years. After a brief stint as a copy editor, he became an assistant metro editor and then metro editor of the D&C. In April 1979, he left Rochester to become night city editor of the Miami Herald, where he worked for two years before accepting a position as assistant managing editor of The Post-Standard in May 1981.

Shortly after joining The Post-Standard, Bunn was promoted to managing editor. In December 1982 he became managing editor of the Herald-Journal and Herald American. Shortly, he was promoted to executive editor of those newspapers. He remained in that position until March 1996, when the news staffs of the Herald-Journal and The Post-Standard were merged and he became deputy executive editor of The Post-Standard, a position he held until he retired.

During his career at the Syracuse Newspapers he was honored for his work to advance racial and ethnic diversity and understanding with awards from the NAACP, the Dunbar Center, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Before beginning his newspaper career, Bunn served four years in the Army. He enlisted in March 1967, graduated from Armor Officer Candidate School in February 1968, and served as a public affairs officer with the First Armored Division in Fort Hood, Texas, as command information officer for the Eighth Army/United Nations Command in Seoul, Korea, and as public information officer of Fort Dix, N.J. He was a captain when he was discharged in 1971.

His father was a career U.S. Navy petty officer, who was transferred often. Thus, in his youth, Bunn moved 16 times, living in a variety of places from Dayton Beach, Fla., to Newport, R.I., to Bremerton, Wash., before returning to Syracuse to finish high school.

Bunn returned to Syracuse when he was 15 and lived in Skunk City in Syracuse’s West End. He worked for his tuition as an out-of-district student at Westhill Central High School, from which he graduated.  Westhill was the 14th different school Bunn attended before going on to college. During college, his interest in newspapering grew with jobs at the Skaneateles Press & Marcellus Observer and on the night desk of the Herald-Journal.

Today he and his wife, the former Nancy Grady, live in Marcellus.

2007 - Rosemary Robinson

The Post-Standard

Rosemary Robinson was a pioneer in Syracuse journalism, becoming the first woman city editor of The Post-Standard and later the newspaper’s first female managing editor.
But she was more than that to the reporters who worked for her. It was her news sense, fine touch in editing stories and compassion for her staff that set her apart.

“She saw human beings as human beings, and always expected us to cover them that way,’’ columnist Sean Kirst wrote this year when Robinson retired after more than 30 years in the business. Kirst recalled other editors frowning on a column he wrote early in his career because he used an intensely personal style in writing about a child’s abduction and murder. Robinson fought for it.

“It was her intervention that got it into the paper, and the intense response of my readers opened the door for me to continue writing that kind of column,” Kirst wrote. “In that sense, she elevated my craft and my career.’’

Robinson, 56, of Liverpool, met her husband Bill through journalism. He was a features editor at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and she was a regional reporter, then copy editor and night city editor there. They moved to the Syracuse Newspapers in 1981.

In Syracuse, Rosemary was night city editor, city editor, regional editor, staff development editor, and in 1993, became The Post Standard’s managing editor. She credits her groundbreaking promotion to the atmosphere at the time. Newspapers were seeking to make their newsrooms more balanced, she said.

“I quite honestly didn’t necessarily seek it out,” Robinson said. “They asked if I’d do it. I agreed, but I do like staying behind the scenes.”

Those who worked with her say she earned it. She was twice honored with for her work. In 1996, she was named that year’s “Outstanding Communicator” by the Central New York Chapter of Women in Communications. Robinson was chosen for the award because of “continued professional excellence” in the communications field and because she used her skills to benefit the community, the organization said.

In 1999, she won a “Spirit of American Women” award from Girls Inc. Rosemary and her husband Bill have two daughters and a son.

2007 - Bill Carey

News 10 Now / WIXT / WTVH / WHEN

Bill’s career began in radio in at WMBO, in Auburn in 1971. He joined WHEN radio in 1974, and by 1976 he was the news director. This was a time when there was a fierce competition between the then independently owned WHEN and WSYR radio newsrooms. Bill led his young staff in often beating his competitors in radio and TV, and led them to numerous awards. A long list of the young people who got their first break in the business under Bill now populates the media in Syracuse and  across the country.

When Bill moved from radio to TV in the mid-1980’s he quickly learned the medium and became one of the best visual storytellers in the market. He was a favorite of the news photographers who respected his focus, his creativity, and his keen understanding of the visual aspects of the medium.

He always manages to find just the right words, the right sounds, and the right pictures to tell the story without ever being overdramatic. He knows when to let the sound and pictures do the talking.He rose to the position of Executive Producer of WTVH, overseeing day-to-day operations of the Channel 5 newsroom. He later became News Director.

Under Bill’s leadership, WTVH continued its dominance in the ratings, and its dominance in news coverage. He led the station to an Emmy award for Best Newscast. As of 2007, the broadcast he oversaw on the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 was the only newscast from a non-New York City television station to win that category.

Bill left his management duties behind when he left WTVH in 1993 to return to the role of a reporter. Bill picked up numerous awards while serving as a key player in WIXT (now WSYR) TV’s surge to dominance in the 1990s. After a brief return to radio, serving as anchor and news director of WSYR radio, Bill helped put Time Warner Cable’s all-news channel, News 10 Now on the air. He served as senior reporter and field anchor for the operation. Bill served as a mentor for the young staff and the go-to guy when major stories broke.

Bill Carey is probably the most deployed journalist in Central New York. Bill has traveled with local military units to the Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and to relief operations in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Bill has traveled to London, Lockerbie, Germany Israel, Lebanon and Jordan to tell the story of Pan Am 103. He’s reported from Ground Zero, Pearl Harbor and the Vatican. He’s traveled with the Orangemen to bowl games (when they went to bowl games), and to political conventions. Few local reporters have as many stamps on their passports as does Bill Carey.

But he has also covered virtually every major local story in Central New York in the past 25 years. From political scandals, to plant closings, to the poignant tributes for fallen police officers, firefighters, and soldiers. He’s produced dozens of documentaries, including one that took viewers inside the conspiracy that sent former mayor Lee Alexander to prison.

In 2002 Bill received the Syracuse Press Club’s Bliven-Ganley-Rossi Career Achievement Award. He’s won two Emmys, six RTNDA Murrow Awards and dozens of awards from the Syracuse Press Club and New York Associated Press Broadcasters Association.
Bill and his wife MaryEllen have three children. 

2007 - Blair Henderson

The Progressive Herald

Emmanuel Blair Henderson was a columnist for The Progressive Herald, an African-American newspaper in Syracuse during the 1940s and 1950s — a time when black people weren’t included as employees in mainstream media. Syracuse’s Progressive Herald was one among several local weekly newspapers that sprung up in urban communities across the country that documented the lives of African-Americans.

From the book “Flashbacks,” noted author John A. Williams takes us through a 26-year diary of articles, writing in the introduction about Syracuse and its black community and documenting the influence of The Progressive Herald Newspaper at a time when community diversity was not recognized.

“Mr. Sylvahn was editor and publisher of The Progressive Herald, a black weekly newspaper in Syracuse that served other black communities throughout central New York State. Like Jet magazine today, everyone sneered at the PH, but they bought it,” wrote Williams. “Its tabloid format, varying from four to six, and on rare occasions eight pages, contained local news as it affected Syracuse Negros, general black news culled from the large black weeklies, a society section run by Mrs. Sylvahn, and a gossip column called at one time ‘The Periscope.'” This last was written by a former high school track star, Emanuel Henderson, known fondly by nearly everyone as “Emo.” Henderson credits Mr. Sylvahn with leadership of the news weekly “under which my writing bloomed.”

Henderson wrote for at least 10 years under columns called, “The Periscope” and “This ‘n’ That.” It was a gossip column, but he often challenged the white establishment’s racist actions and was the voice of the African-American community. He also wrote other articles and an occasional sports column, which included interviews with Jackie Robinson and Sugar Ray Robinson.

Don Caldwell, who has been a voice of memory for the African-American community in Syracuse for many of his 80 years, said Henderson’s column was widely read and that Henderson was a vocal activist.

In 2004 Emanuel Blair Henderson Sr. received a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Syracuse/Onondaga County NAACP. A life member of the NAACP, Henderson has served on the chapter’s executive board and Legal Redress Committee. He also is a charter member of the Benjamin Banneker Democratic Club.

Henderson and his wife Muriel reside in Lyncourt. They raised four children, and have 17 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

2007 - Bob Haggart

The Post-Standard, The Herald-Journal, The Herald-American

“This is my valentine to Brenda Marie McCabe Haggart. Unfortunately, this valentine will not look or taste as good as those hearts that grade school teachers in Kansas helped me cut out and paste on big pieces of red paper. I can still taste the paste. It tasted almost as good as a peanut-butter sandwich. Writing this public confession of joy may seem a little arrogant on my part, Brenda, since I didn’t ask you if I could do it. But you owe me one. My voice is gone.”

That’s how Robert R. Haggart began his column, published Feb. 14, 1997 in The Post-Standard. Haggart was a patient at Crouse Hospital at the time, courageously trying to beat back cancer in his bone marrow. For nearly a decade, Haggart gave hope to cancer victims and their families from across America by writing about his own battle. In 1989, Haggart was named the best columnist in New York by The Associated Press for his series of columns on his illness.

His Valentine column — which he ended with the words “Bob loves Brenda forever” — was his final piece. Haggart died 11 days later, on Feb. 25, 1997.

As a columnist, Haggart was a free-swinging advocate for the little guy, a bearded Harley-driving figure who needled politicians and bureaucrats like no other modern Syracuse journalist. He wrote about the forgotten, alcoholic men at Unity Acres, about married couples forced by government regulations to live in separate nursing homes, about ill people seeking miracles in a Yugoslavian village.

Nicknames that Haggart gave to local politicians — like Landslide Hennessy, for then DA Richard Hennessy, or Donuts Bernardi, for then Mayor Roy Bernardi — became part of the public lexicon.

Haggart worked for The Syracuse Newspapers for 39 years. He started with The Post-Standard on Sept. 13, 1958 as a copy boy and moved to the Ogdensburg Bureau office as a staff correspondent on June 24, 1959. He returned to the City Desk staff on Sept. 11 of that same year. In 1965, he transferred to the Herald-Journal before moving back to The Post-Standard, where he became Metro Editor on Oct. 28, 1977. Later, he was in charge of the newspapers’ photography department and library.

He was The Post-Standard’s columnist during his final 15 years — a job that was fitting for the paper’s most colorful writer.

“This is a great job! On a 6 p.m. deadline you can goof off until 5:59 p.m., but God help you if there isn’t something in an editor’s hand one minute later,” he wrote.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, Haggart’s columns exposed a sensitive side that touched readers. Dick MacPherson, former football coach for Syracuse University and the New England Patriots, found Haggart’s determination in his fight against cancer so inspiring that he introduced him to the Patriots football players and held him up as a man of courage. Haggart’s visit with the team helped spur them to victory over a then-unbeaten opponent, according to MacPherson.

Several hundred mourners attended his funeral service at St. Lucy’s Church. In addition to his wife, Brenda, Haggart was survived by his daughters, Mallory, Sarah, and Rebecca.

2006 - Walt Sheppard

The Syracuse New Times, city Eagle

A three-time Writer of the Year for the New York State Press Association, Walt Shepperd served for 35 years starting in 1971 as columnist, feature writer and senior editor of the Syracuse New Times.
From 1965 to 1967, he was assistant editor of Chris Powell’s Home Town News, and, with Dave Prater, founding editor of the Syracuse Gazette. He then founded the Nickel Review, cited as one of the three best newspapers in the country during the sixties-era underground genre by Village Voice media critic Nat Hentoff. 

A past president of the Syracuse Press Club, from which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award, Shepperd also served as president of the board of directors of the Cultural Resources Council, and is a current member of the advisory boards of the New York State Fair and the Educational Opportunity Center. He is a recipient of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Kharas Award for “distinguished service to civil liberties.”

A 1962 graduate of Colgate University, Shepperd did graduate work at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, and has served on the faculties of Colgate, SU, Onondaga Community College, the Syracuse City School District, Jamesville Penitentiary and the maximum security prisons at Auburn and Attica. With Stewart Brisby, he edited and published Born into a Felony, the first national anthology of contemporary American prison writing on a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Shepperd is founder, and since 1976, executive producer of the Media Unit, a national award winning hands-on training program for Central New York teens in performance and production for television and stage. Since 1979, the Media Unit has produced “Rough Times Live,” the longest running weekly television broadcast in the country totally produced by teens. Almost 80 percent of Media Unit graduates have gone on to careers in the industry. Shepperd served for a season as executive producer of WIXT-Channel 9’s “Alive in Syracuse” and was a regular panelist on Time Warner’s “Reporter’s Roundtable.”

Author of Conjuring a Counter-Culture, a book of essays from Dustbooks, and I Dreampt I Took a Two Week Vacation in an Audrey Hepburn Movie, a poetry chapbook from Pulpartforms Unltd., Shepperd’s work has also appeared in The Post Standard, Urban CNY, The Banner, Newsday, Scholastic Teacher, Finger Lakes Magazine, Metroland, Survival Prose, One Shot Deal, Event, Gravida, the Journal of Black Poetry and the Berkeley Barb.

2006 - Joel Mareiniss

The Post-Standard, The Herald-Journal, The Herald-American

For more than four decades, an instantly recognizable face, a captivating smile, and a voice that was once synonymous with Syracuse University football and basketball, Joel Mareiniss earned the distinction of being a Central New York broadcast legend.

Almost all of his 46-year career in broadcasting was with WSYR Radio and Television (Channel 3). And while Joel is best remembered for his work in sports, he started out as a newsman.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Joel first came to Syracuse in 1946 to attend Syracuse University’s School of Journalism. Upon graduation, he served in the US Army as a public information officer during the Korean War, then came back to SU for a master’s degree in television. It was 1953.

At the same time, Joel joined WSYR Radio as morning news reporter. He is most proud of his award-winning coverage of a local soldier returning home after being a held as a POW by North Korea. In 1958, Joel became WSYR-TV’s first 11 PM news anchor, a job he held for the next eight years.

What happened next is what the Mareiniss legend is made of. No doubt, he will agree it was the start of his dream job in 1966 that combined a love of sports and Syracuse University. Joel was named WSYR’s radio and television sports director.

Not only did he do the sports segments during the early and late night news programs, but Joel Mareiniss truly became the “Voice of the Orange.” For 14 years, he called SU football and basketball play-by-play with an excitement and passion that endeared him to thousands of devoted fans. And the job only got better as Joel also hosted the extremely popular live television bowling program, Syracuse Bowls, for 25 years.

When the Newhouse family divested itself of WSYR in 1982, Joel stayed with the radio station. His career took a detour for seven years as he went into radio advertising work. But the call of sports play-by-play was too great to keep Joel off the air. He became play-by-play announcer for the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team, carried by radio sister station WHEN for another seven years.

In what spare time he had, Joel also held a commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings. He was a member of the “Quiet Birdmens Pilots Club.”

Joel and wife Georgiana have two daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.— Jeff Paston

2006 - Fred Heyman

Herald-Journal, 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.

By 1923, he was working as a reporter. And a year after that, the bosses moved him to the sports desk. But it was his love for sketching that got him into the newspaper’s art department. Fred was named its director in 1929, and appropriately began taking art classes at Syracuse University!

Fondly referred to as Syracuse’s Dean of Cartoonists he was recognized both locally and nationally for his illustrations of political and sporting events. In 1933, Fred won a national award from Editor & Publisher magazine for his cartoon showing Uncle Sam biting a dog named Depression. In 1969, he won an award from the National Foundation for Highway Safety for his cartoon dramatizing the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse — more than a decade before society began to take drunken and drugged driving more seriously.

In 1935, Fred helped to develop the use of the then-new technology of wire photo service which revolutionized the newspaper business. Using the techniques of airbrushing and shading to enhance the pictures, Fred was responsible for their reproduction and dynamic layout. His art breathed life into reporting of the crash of the Hindenberg, the assassinations of the 1960s, VE Day and many others. He was cited by Editor & Publisher Magazine for his 1969 Herald-Journal front page design of the historic first landing of Man on the Moon.

After joining the Navy at the age of 38, Fred served during WWII at Sampson Naval Base where he sketched profiles of enemy battleships and planes to help with identification.

Fred was also well known for his outstanding illustrations of local sports. For decades, he illustrated Syracuse baseball as well as the entire tenure of the Syracuse Nats. He illustrated the nationally prominent Syracuse University football teams, Syracuse’s golden age of championship boxing, and the early years of Vernon Downs harness racing. Although no longer in use, Fred designed the original Syracuse Chiefs logo.

The Syracuse Herald-Journal ran his “Syracuse Sports Greats” featuring local amateur and professional athletes as well as his “This Week’s Top Spots in Sports” feature. Fred drew over 200 portraits of movie stars which appeared weekly on the cover of the Herald-Journal’s Stars magazine. He illustrated the nearly year-long weekly series “The Changing Face of Syracuse.”

After semi-retiring in the early 1970s, he and his wife Pauline lived in Florida for a few years. During that time he received an award from the Broward County Sheriffs Department for his help in apprehending a suspect in a murder-robbery case. After interviewing a critically injured man whose wife had been murdered, Fred painstakingly made a sketch of the suspect. Two hours after it was published, the suspect was apprehended.

Retirement was not for Fred, so he continued to work part-time for the newspaper he so loved until 1990, when health problems ended a 69-year career at the Herald.

Fred was active in the Harness Writers Association both locally and in Florida and served as its president for several years. He was a charter member of the Syracuse Press Club, and in 1990 received the Club’s first Career Achievement Award.

Fred died in 1992 at the age of 86.

2006 - J. Leonard Gorman

The Post-Standard

J. Leonard Gorman was employed with The Post-Standard more than 50 years, beginning in 1933 as a $40-a-week copy reader and rising through the ranks to become the publication’s top editor.

Widely known and respected, Mr. Gorman was a quiet, soft-spoken person who offered a sharp contrast to the shouting, hard-drinking editors portrayed in movies and on television. A grammarian of the old school, he was a stickler for the use of proper English, good sentence structure and correct spelling. Through the years he penned a large number of carefully phrased, but hard-hitting editorials which attracted widespread attention and not infrequently resulted in reforms.

Len Gorman, somehow, made time for all who came to see him to seek his advice or sympathy. That included members of his own news staff who drifted in and out of his office, without formality, to discuss problems — professional or personal.

A tough competitor, he insisted his newspaper reporters get the stories first, but make sure they were accurate. The main role of the newspaper, as he saw it, was to keep the readers informed. He maintained that a newspaper existed to be the conscience of the community, to expose wrongdoing, keep public officials honest and politicians worried.

In later years up to the time of his being named editor emeritus in 1983, Mr. Gorman confined his newspaper pursuits to writing editorials and setting editorial policy. In earlier years, he personally directed the day-to-day news gathering operations of the paper. It was not at all unusual in the days when he was city editor and later managing editor to see Mr. Gorman in the office before noon and find him still there after midnight.

To Len Gorman, newspapering was an exciting, challenging, honorable and important profession of which he was immensely proud to be a part. He viewed himself as playing a small but vital role in providing a public service to the community in which he lived about 60 years.

Born in Palmyra, he attended schools there before entering the then-new journalism program at Syracuse University in 1925. Mr. Gorman worked full-time on the Daily Orange, and waited on tables and performed other chores to earn the money to help pay his way through college.

He was hired as a reporter at the old Syracuse Herald in 1929. From 1930 to 1932, he operated his own public relations firm and handled fund-raising for Syracuse University. In 1933, Mr. Gorman joined The Post-Standard staff as a copy reader.

In 1941, Mr. Gorman was promoted to editorial writer. He served in that capacity until 1947 when he was named city editor, a position he held until 1953, when he was appointed managing editor. In 1960, he was named editor. He held that position until 1966 when he became executive editor.

In 1980, Mr. Gorman received the Syracuse Press Club’s award for best exemplifying high professional standards. He was a longtime, very active Rotarian and seldom missed a meeting.

Mr. Gorman was a member and director of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the New York Society of Newspaper Editors in 1960 and ’61 and of the New York Associated Press Association in 1956. He was also a member of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and the Syracuse Press Club.

J. Leonard Gorman died at home on Sept. 18, 1985, at the age of 79. — Gus Bliven (9/19/1985)

2006 - Donna Speziale

WTVH, WHEN, WFBL

Donna Speziale Richards became a pioneer in Syracuse broadcasting when WHEN radio named her Syracuse’s first woman news director at a commercial station.

Donna was a life resident of the Syracuse area. She graduated from Solvay High School in 1976 and obtained her journalism degree from Onondaga Community College.

Her first reporting job was at WFBL. Donna then moved to WHEN in 1982, where she was promoted to news director four years later. At WHEN, she covered the 1984 and 1988 Democratic National Conventions in San Francisco and Atlanta. She received Professional Recognition Awards from the Syracuse Press Club for spot news coverage (Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed) and best regularly scheduled local newscast (Former Mayor Lee Alexander indicted).

Donna made the transition to television, joining WTVH as a reporter in December 1988. One of her earliest television assignments placed her in the team of reporters covering the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. She shared an Emmy award for her work. She also won awards from the Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the NYS Broadcasters Association.

Donna was a member of the Syracuse Press Club and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. After almost two decades in broadcast news, she made a career move in 1998, becoming a public relations specialist for the Small Business Administration. There she felt she could help many of the small local businesses on which she often reported.

We’ll never know where her career would have taken her. Donna died suddenly of a brain aneurysm on May 27, 2001, while visiting her brother in Florida. On September 6th of that year, New York Congressman James T. Walsh read a tribute to Donna on the floor of the US House of Representatives. This tribute has been recorded in the Library of Congress.

Donna’s former boss and close friend Bill Carey helped establish the Donna Speziale Richards Memorial Endowed Scholarship at Onondaga Community College in her memory. The Syracuse Press Club also honored Donna when it presented its 2002 scholarships in her memory.

2005 Wall of Distinction inductees

Jerry Barsha: WSTM-TV / WSYR-AM-TV
Philip A. Hofmann:
Herald-Journal / Herald American, Post-Standard, Press Club President: 1970
Richard Long:
Herald-Journal / Herald American, Skaneateles Press
Linda Loomis (pictured):
The Liverpool Review, The Post-Standard
Leo Pinckney:
The (Auburn) Citizen
Frank Rossi:
WSTM / WSYR-TV WHEN-TV

2004 Wall of Distinction inductees

Harold Addington: Herald-Journal / Herald American, Press Club President: 1972
Liz Ayers: WTVH
Walter Grunfeld: Marathon Independent, Press Club President: 1993-94
Mike Price: WIXT (WNYS-TV 9)
Stephen A. Rogers: Editor and publisher of The Post-Standard, Herald-Journal, Herald American
Saundra Smokes (pictured): The Post-Standard, Herald-Journal, Herald American columnist

2003 Wall of Distinction inductees

Andy Brigham: WIXT, WTVH (WHEN-TV), Press Club President: 1986
Wesley Clark: Dean of Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Skaneateles Press, Marcellus Observer
Eddie Griffin: Herald-Journal / Herald American Press Club President: 1953
Cornelius O’Leary: WFBL
Jackie Robinson (pictured): WSTM (WSYR-TV)
Kenneth Sparrow: Herald-Journal Herald American

2002 Wall of Distinction inductees

2002 inductees included Nevart Apikian, Don Edwards, Roy Gallinger, Jack Morse, Art Peterson, Veronica Schwartz, Bud VanderVeer.

Jack Morse spent over 40 years broadcasting in Central New York. He started as a part-time sports broadcaster at WHEN radio in 1959. He did the station’s last segment from Syracuse’s Loew Building in February 1963, and WHEN’s first broadcast from its new James Street station the next morning.

Jack went on to work in TV, working for WTVH (Channel 5) the Syracuse NewChannels (now Spectrum News), and WIXT (Channel 9, now WSYR). He later returned to radio on Phil Markert’s morning show. He also spent five years doing play-by-play for the Syracuse Chiefs (now the Syracuse Mets).

2001

Dick Case (pictured): Herald-Journal / Herald American The Post-Standard
Carl Eilenberg: WNYS-TV (Channel 9) Rome Observer, Mayor of Rome, N.Y.
Karin Franklin-King: WNYS-TV (Channel 9) WSYR, WCNY-TV
Laura Hand (pictured): WSTM-TV
Red Parton: WNYS-TV / WIXT WSYR / WSYR-TV WOLF, WNDR, WPAW Press Club President: 1963
Stephen Rogers: Herald-Journal / Herald American, The Post-Standard
A. Brohmann Roth: Herald-Journal / Herald American, Press Club President: 1975
Rod Wood: WIXT WHEN, WNDR Press Club President: 1976

2000 Wall of Distinction inductees

The first group of inductees was installed on Dec. 4, 2000: Gus Bliven, Ron Curtis, Jean Daugherty, Nancy Duffy, Joseph V. Ganley, Fred Hillegas, ‘Casey’ Jones, Arlene LaRue, Joseph A. Porcello, Mario Rossi, E.R. Vadeboncoeur, Joan Vadeboncoeur, Lois Vosburgh