SPJ Cleveland

Distinguished Service & Lifetime Achievement Awards

Each year, the Cleveland Chapter honors one or more journalists with the Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor the Chapter can bestow for service. Journalists are nominated by the Board, and then chosen by a vote of SPJ members. In exceptional cases, the Board may choose a journalist to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor SPJ Cleveland can bestow upon a professional to recognize a career of accomplishments. The 2011 award winners are Brent Larkin of The Plain Dealer and Dr. Jae-won Lee of Cleveland State University. Their biographies are below.

Larkin a 'natural-born reporter'

By Rich Exner 
SPJ Cleveland  

Fresh out of Ohio University and not far removed from the halls of Brush High School, Brent Larkin walked into the newsroom at The Cleveland Press in 1970 when Carl Stokes was mayor and Cleveland was still the nation's 10th largest city.

Ralph Perk, Dennis Kucinich, George Voinovich, Michael White, Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson followed Stokes into the mayor's office, all confronting the same things: answering to the residents of Cleveland, dealing with City Council and having to face the scrutiny of Larkin.

Larkin "retired" in May 2009 as The Plain Dealer's editorial director but he never really has gone away. His weekly column - challenging the region's political leaders to do better - remains a staple of the newspaper's Sunday edition.

"As anyone who reads his column knows, Brent is just a natural-born reporter with great instincts, great sources, tremendous energy and a love of being first with a story. That's why political columnists for other newspapers admit they still turn first on Sundays to what Brent has to say," said Elizabeth Sullivan, who succeeded Larkin as the newspaper's editorial page editor.

"And it's remained true whether he was that young reporter metaphorically brawling for a scoop in a town full of reporters, when he worked for The Cleveland Press during the 1970s, or directing the editorial pages of The Plain Dealer, which he did for 18 years. He's still the go-to guy for those who want to know who's up, who's down and what's really going on in local and state politics."

Larkin covered City Hall for The Cleveland Press from 1971 through 1976, when he was named the newspaper's politics editor. He joined The Plain Dealer in 1981, first as a politics writer and later, a columnist. He became head of the editorial section in 1991. Along the way, he earned a law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1986.

Upon his departure from full-time work at The Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine wrote: "Larkin will go down in history as Cleveland's last big power-broker journalist, the last guy who single-handedly pens the town's conventional wisdom."

Generations of journalists, present and future, may dispute that Larkin will go down in history as the "last" of his kind, but the mark he has left on journalism in the city is unquestionable.

For this, Larkin is being honored with the Society of Professional Journalists' Distinguished Service Award.

Lee: A true internationalist as both journalist and scholar

Jae-won Lee, PhD, has been a member of the faculty of the School of Communication at Cleveland State University for 35 years, 1973-2008.  Though he retired from full-time responsibility in 2008, he continues teaching as a Professor Emeritus of Journalism, one semester a year.

Prior to his arrival in Cleveland in 1973, he taught for one year at Illinois State University. At Cleveland State University, he has directed the school's Division of Journalism and Promotional Communication. Concurrently, he also served as Assistant to the Provost and later as the university's Director of Curricular Affairs in the Office of Academic Affairs, starting in 1993.

A graduate of Seoul National University (with a B.A. and M.A. in English), he worked for five years as a reporter for The Korea Times in the early 1960s.  He began his interest in journalism by working as a student reporter for his college newspaper in 1961. Under a Fulbright Scholarship, he completed his master's in journalism at Marquette University in 1969 and his Ph.D. in mass communication at the University of Iowa in 1972.

Lee did teaching and research in the areas of professional journalism, international communication and political communication.  He has been fellow several times at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, American Press Institute and the East-West Center in Hawaii.  In 1980, he served a semester as a visiting professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security of the South Korean government.  He has been a Fulbright Professor twice, for a semester each in Botswana (Africa) in 2002 and South Korea in 1988.  In 2008, he again received a Fulbright Senior Specialist award for guest lecturing and curricular advising at Kathmandu University in Nepal. Recently, for two summers, he taught at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Korea,  as a visiting scholar.

Lee wears a four-cornered Fulbright hat, a maximum record under the U.S. Fulbright Programs. He is one of the 12 recipients of the 1987 National Teaching Awards for Excellence in Journalism Teaching from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. A lifetime member of Kappa Tau Alpha (the national journalism honor society), he has served as a national judge of SPJ's annual journalism competition, SDX Awards, since 1995. For the past five years he has run the Philip W. Porter Scholarship competition for SPJ Cleveland, and was a board member for this chapter from 1993 to 2001 and again in 2008-2009. 

During the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, he worked at the games' Main Press Center as a senior writer.Out of this experience, he eventually founded the first-ever global Olympic journalism competition, Olympic Media Awards, in 1995.He ran the awards program for the Atlanta Games of 1996 and the Nagano Winter Games of 1998, serving as its executive director.Ever since, Olympic journalism has been one of his major research interest areas.

Lee specializes in news-journalism studies, focusing on news-reporting behaviors, the media's role in political campaigns and media coverage of critical events.Besides publishing more than 55 research articles in journals and as book chapters, he also has edited or written four books, including one e-book on Olympic journalism.His latest research centers around the issue of subjectivity in news journalism, in the contexts of the occupational norm of objectivity and the changing media environment.

Lee's professional and community services have been wide-ranging. At CSU, he has hosted about 25 foreign visiting journalism fellows. He is the founding president of the Korean American Communication Association, and has served as president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Fulbright Association and of the International Communication Division of his primary association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He does election campaign consulting occasionally for  candidates of his liking. He has traveled extensively all around the world and, at home, he loves gardening and doing handyman's chores. He is listed in Who's Who in America.

Richard Perloff's tribute to Jae-won Lee

         It is late fall in Seoul, South Korea many years ago. Jae remembers it was brisk and cold, like it is in Cleveland that time of year. He is a reporter for The Korea Times, an English language daily. It’s 3:30 in the morning, he’s typing away on his Royal typewriter. As night editor, it is his job to edit stories and get them ready for the morning edition. He is tired and gets a snack. That’s when he hears the clackety-clack clack-clack. He listens again. There it is: clackety-clack, clack-clack.  A bell sounds in his head. He knows that if the machines all make that noise at the same time, something big is happening. But what could be happening at 3:30 in the morning. What he will learn is that the events are happening a world away, in the United States where it is a little after 12:30 in the afternoon on this date: Nov. 22, 1963.Working in Seoul, Jae reads the flash item and orders the press stopped. Jae-won Lee, young reporter, has stopped the presses! He then inserts the one-line announcement that President Kennedy has been assassinated into the the front page of The Korea Times. He translates it into Korean for the sister publication, The Korea Daily. By 4 a.m. he sends it down to the shop, where the machinists convert it to hot linotype and onto the cylinder plate.  By 5:30 all the trucks are waiting for delivery of the metro edition. These two newspapers are the only ones to spread the story in Seoul. Within an hour, millions in Seoul are reading the announcement of the Kennedy assassination, thanks to the lightning-quick work of reporter Jae-won Lee.
         Jae didn’t think of journalism when he was an undergraduate at the prestigious Seoul National University. He majored in English (and we’re not talking 20th century English, but the hard stuff, Middle Ages English, The Canterbury Tales).  Because it was not quite challenging enough to master Chaucer in Middle English argot, Jae initially pursued a major in physics.
         Intrigued by journalism, he takes a job at The Korea Times, and works there five more years after the Kennedy assassination story. One day, a colleague tells him he seems more like an academic type and maybe he should apply for a scholarship known as the Fulbright. Jae admits to being puzzled. He is thinking “Is this scholarship guy all-bright, full-bright or maybe just half bright?”  But he likes the idea and goes out to get a Ph.D. in Journalism.
         In the wake of Watergate, American newspapers were feeling their muscle and television news had come into its own.  A new generation of ex-journalists and curious young scholars wanted to apply social science theories and methods to uncover the effects news exerted on the public. Doctoral programs in mass communication research are booming and Jae picks one of the best: the University of Iowa.  Iowa is a state that has been affectionately described as “over-cowed and over-plowed.” It’s much different from Seoul, but the libraries are stocked with Chaucer and nearby is a Chauceresque road called Canterbury, so Jae decides it can’t be all bad. Plus, the journalism department has a well-known scholar, Professor Malcolm MacLean. MacLean attracts a cadre of inquisitive students. One of them is Will Norton, who will later become dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Norton, contacted recently, still recalls Jae’s intellectual panache. He recalls:

 I was beginning my first year as a doctoral candidate when I met Jae-won lee in September, 1971. He was a sophisticated research methodologist who had integrated communication theory into his everyday life. I had hardly been exposed to theory, and his perfunctory insights during the Ph.D. seminars were stated, I thought, almost like Moses handing down the Ten Commandments.
However, as the semester developed and I became aware of the literature at a broader and deeper level, I realized that while his comments were brief, their subtlety and sophistication were unmatched by any of our fellow doctoral students.
One afternoon in Malcom MacLean’s seminar on Q methodology, MacLean pushed his seat back from the table, walked over to his desk, and took a long draw on a bottle of some concoction that he took for ulcers.  He kept dozens of bottles in boxes behind his desk and would take a long swig from time to time when the conversation became too tense.
“You need to read Jae-won Lee’s dissertation,” MacLean said to the class. “It is the most elegant and thoughtful dissertation I have seen using Q methodology.”

Jae’s abilities also impressed Professor Sidney Kraus, chair of the budding communication department at Cleveland State, and Kraus hired Lee before he could take another job offer.  It’s now the early 1970s, television advertising is growing, The Plain Dealer is covering political corruption, and there is growing interest in the power of media images.  One day a relative of a young man active in politics, a man named Dennis Kucinich, enrolls in Jae’s political communication class. The student introduces Jae to his relative, the mayor of Cleveland. It has been a while and memories are foggy, but I suspect that the two talked in the Red Room in the Mayor's Office, perhaps discussing  CEI, Muny Light, and the way that Kucinich could cultivate a positive image as the election approached.

The collegial relationship benefited them both. Jae got a whiff of city politics that he could use to develop a model he called contextual image-making. Kucinich perhaps gained some ideas that he could use so he could promote his image in different contexts, which he called wards.

At the same time as Jae helps Kucinich toss and retoss his hat in the political ring Jae doffs his own cap – a scholarly beret, pulling together his insights about 1970s politics in an article about the news media and Spiro Agnew’s resignation as vice president. It is published in the prestigious academic journal, Public Opinion Quarterly.

Although Agnew may himself have been, to apply Safire’s memorable words, a nattering nabob of negativism, Jae is not. He maintains his upbeat positive approach, and this helps him as he cultivates a national reputation as an international communication scholar. He is elected head of the International Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism, the premier mass communication professional organization.
He is now a nationally-known academic expert on international communication and a growing presence in the Department of Communication and Cleveland State University. Always dapper in a milieu where professors frequently dress in a dowdy, rumpled manner, Jae becomes well known at Cleveland State for his distinctive fashion. He stands out, with his modal outfit: paisley shirt, striped tie, argyle socks.  A colleague remarks that the components of Jae’s wardrobe are in perfect geometric proportion, a testament to the Greek mathematician whose name graces the street where Jae teaches, this being Euclid, of course.

 In 1987, he becomes just one of 12 recipients of the National Teaching Awards for Excellence in journalism from the Poynter Institute of Media Studies, and will later become a lifetime member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism honor society. He begins to serve as a national judge of SPJ’s annual journalism competition in 1995, a task he will continue for the next 16 years. It is a task he performs with diligence and care.
He transmits his approach to journalism in the classroom and at home. His adult children -- son, Eric, and daughter, Gina -- emphasized his craftsman like approach.

“My dad has an intense dislike of jingoism and any kind of bias in media,” his daughter told me, and then, illustrating the notion that the verbal apple does not fall far from the tree, said eloquently, “As a professor of mass media, he ultimately sees the strength of communication as being in the quality of the writing, reporting, and research in conveying the humanity of the subjects rather than in the slickness of the vehicles which deliver the messages.”

During the 1980s and ‘90s, he publishes frequently and widely in mass communication. He will ultimately publish more than 55 research articles, and edit or write four 4 books, including a book on Olympic Journalism, the next step in Jae-won Lee’s career lattice.  And he wracks up three more Fulbrights.

The Olympic capstone occurs in the 1990s and it is seminal.  Jae had long observed journalists at the Olympics and turning things around in his mind, in the way that distinguished him as a graduate student at Iowa years before, he thought to himself, “All the athletes are competing for recognition. The journalists who cover the events are the best, of Olympic quality. They work hard, but they’re not getting any recognition. That seems inappropriate for an event of this stature.” So approaching Samsung Electronics, he obtains a grant from the company’s press organization to explore the issue.  The result is gold, silver and bronze awards for print, broadcasting and photography stories that journalists produce at the Olympics. He runs the awards program for the Atlanta games of 1996 and the Nagano, Japan Winter Games of 1998, serving as its executive director. Although the awards only last for two Olympics, due to financial exigencies, you can appreciate the vision that led to their creation and the leadership skills necessary to turn this idea into reality. What an outstanding way to bestow honor on journalists and showcase excellence in international sports journalism!

Jae has amassed a sterling record marked by immense contributions to different areas of journalism.  He was a pioneering Korean journalist in the 1960s, a pivotal period in South Korean history.  He was one of the first researchers to apply scientific techniques to the study of mass communication. He is a national leader in the study of international communication. He has been an academic leader, making wide-ranging contributions to Cleveland State University, both to its School of Communication and the Provost’s Office, where he performed administrative roles for more than a decade. And he has been a stalwart, tireless leader in the Society for Professional Journalists, an organization that embodies his love for journalism and belief in its hallowed mission.

Professor Kyu Ho Youm, a chaired First Amendment Professor of journalism and communication at the University of Oregon, recently reflected on Jae’s accomplishments and character. He said:

 I think Professor Lee is one of the few foreign-born American journalism scholars who have been as comfortable in the journalistic world as in the academic community. As a journalist-turned-scholar from South Korea, he has never stopped practicing what he has preached about journalism. I and many of my friends have marveled at his versatile scholarship with a high impact on the real world, both journalistic and academic. As a person, Professor Lee has been so caring to me and many young scholars.  More often than not, I have been touched by his heartwarming notes of encouragement.  

SPJ also has been touched and impressed by Jae-won Lee’s encouragement, hard work and contributions to journalism. With respect and affection, I ask you to join me in congratulating Dr. Jae-won Lee for his many contributions to SPJ and the journalism community.

Past winners of the Distinguished Service Award from SPJ Cleveland

2011 - Brent Larkin, Jae-won Lee
2010 - Jim Collins
2009 – Dick Hendrickson
2008 – Wendy Hoke, David Marburger
2007 – Lifetime Achievement Award to Doug Clifton
2006 – No DSAs Made
2005 – No DSAs Made
2004 – No DSAs Made
2003 – Elizabeth Sullivan, Paul Tepley, John Cole*
2002 – Roldo Bartimole, Dan Coughlin
2001 – John Bowen, Peter Miller
2000 – Ted Henry, Jerry Masek
1999 – Dick Zunt, Neil Zurcher
1998 – Mary Strassmeyer*
1997 – Joe Mosbrook, Paul Young, Sal Marino*
1996 -- Bob Tayek, Russ Schneider
1995 -- Doris O'Donnell, Darrell Holland, Don Robertson*
1994 -- Marc Gleisser, Nev Chandler
1993 -- Del Donahoo, Lou Mio
1992 -- Hugh Danaceau, Ron Kuntz
1991 -- Leon Bibb, William F. Miller, Mike Roberts, Thomas Vail*
1990 -- Betty Cope, Dick Feagler, Chuck Heaton
1989 -- Norman Mlachak, Dick Murway, William O. Walker
1987-88 -- Virgil Dominic, Dick Goddard, Jane Scott
1986 -- Peter Bellamy, Bill Barrett, Marge Alge
1985 -- Russell Faist, Harry Volk, Dave Talbott
1984 -- Theodore Andrica, Dick Peters, Fred Griffith
1983 -- Ray Osrin, Don Peters, Neal Van Ellis
1982 -- Doug Adair, Tom Boardman, Charlie Day
1981 -- Bob August, Hal Lebovitz
1980 -- George Condon, Dick McLaughlin
1979 -- John Huth, Dorothy Fuldheim
1978 -- Lewis Edwards, Julian Krawcheck
1977 -- David Rimmel, Marie Daerr Boehringer
1976 -- Milt Widder, Howard Preston
1975 -- Edward Kuekes, Bob Seltzer
1974 -- Fred Bottomer, Dudley Brumbach
1973 -- James Doyle, Philip Porter
1972 -- David Dietz, Richard Maher
* Received a Lifetime Achievement Award


Past Scholarship Winners
(last updated 04.29.12)

1964...  Jeffrey Chokel: Shaker Heights High School, Princeton '68, Harvard Business School '70; President, Pin Stripe Investments (venture capitalists)
1965...  Lloyd Siegel: Cleveland Heights High School; Ohio State '69; began news career at WKYC; NBC News, NY.
1966...  David Elsner: Brush High School; Oberlin '70; Sections Editor, Chicago Tribune.
1967...  Michael MarinoI: Rocky River High School, Princeton '71; President, Wyse Advertising.
1968...  David Louie: Lakewood High School; Northwestern '72; business/consumer editor, KGO-TV, San Francisco.
1969...  Raphael Schlesinger: Berea High School; Bucknell 73; freelance writer.
1970...  Paul Bednarski: Garfield Heights High School; Ohio University '74; entertainment editor, Chicago Sun-Times.
1971...  Steven Osterhout: Berea High School; Miami '75; Miami MMA'76; complaint supervisor; Amtrak, Washington DC.
1972...  Kay Ann (Morrow) Rolland: Rocky River High School; Northwestern MSJ'76; publisher, Where magazine, Paris.
1973...  Mark O'Donnell: West High School; Harvard '76; playwright/ freelance writer, NYC.
1974...  Joseph J. Kay: Cathedral Latin High School; Ohio University '77; UPI; AP in Cincinnati, covered Reds training camp.
1975...  Barbranda Lumpkins: Glenville High School; Ohio Wesleyan '79; travel editor, Life Section, USA Today, Washington.
1976...  Marcia (Meermans) Aghajanian: Lakewood High School; Syracuse '79; director of marketing services-writing at John Carroll University..
1977...  Michael Pesarchick: Brooklyn High School; Kent State '81; copy editor, Orlando Sentinel.
1978...  Eve Sarris: Berea High School; Hiram College '82; assistant sports editor, Newsday.
1979...  Helen Karakoudas: John Marshall High School; Northwestern '83; managing editor, Wednesday Journal/Chicago Journal, chain of nine community newspapers based in Oak Park, IL.
1980...  Diedre Depke: Lakewood High School; Syracuse '83; senior editor, Newsweek MSNBC.com, New York.
1981...  Robert Bundy: Lakewood High School; MA Ohio University.
1982...  Laurie Abraham: Mentor High School; Northwestern U; Plain Dealer intern '85; reporter, Chicago Sun-Times '86; MA'87 Northwestern; book author on Chicago's poor.
1983...  Kathryn Kudravi: Brooklyn High School; cum laude '87 Kent State; assistant sports editor, The Plain Dealer.
1984...  Recipient left school.
1985...  Dennis Manoloff: Bay Village High School; Northwestern '87; sports writer, The Plain Dealer.
1986...  Elizabeth Mercer: Shaker Heights High School; Amherst College '90 summa cum laude, researcher, Economic Planning System, Berkeley, CA.
1986...  Michael Gallagher: Valley Forge HS; Vanderbilt '90; MBA at Indiana U.
1987...  June Weiler: Beachwood HS; Ohio U '91; account executive, Watt Roop & Co.
1988...  Naomi Annandale: Lakewood HS; Kent State'92; copy editor, LA Daily News.
1988...  Melissa Kossler: Eastlake North HS; Ohio U. '92; interned in Taiwan.
1989...  Jenean Atwood: Maple Hts HS; Bowling Green '93; dean's list, reporter on The Obsidian, minority newspaper, teaching 8mm production, MFA at Ohio U.
1990...  Stephanie (Bodo) Storm: John Marshall HS; Kent State '94, Communications/ journalism major. Covers minor league baseball for the Fresno, CA Bee.
1991...  Heather Bruce: Chagrin Falls HS; American University '95; Communications for a Smithsonian Institution museum of inventions.
1992...  Lori Ann Lessner: Eastlake North HS; Northwestern University '96.
1993...  Jessica Blythe Leary: Chagrin Falls HS; Ohio University (Scripps) '97. Public relations/writing for Multiple Sclerosis Society in Chicago.
1994...  Pia W. Smith: Cuyahoga Hts. HS; Syracuse University '98; B.S. in journalism.
1995...  Matthew A. Walcoff: Orange HS; University of Maryland, '98. Business reporter, Tribune Chronicle , Warren.
1996...  Corrine Henahan: Lakewood HS; Kent State '00.
1997...  Rachel Dissell: Lakewood HS; Kent State. Summer internship on a newspaper in Nigeria. Executive editor, Daily Kent Stater; Award-winning staff reporter, The Plain Dealer.
1998...  Gayle Horwitz: Beachwood HS; George Washington University (Honors College). Features editor for The Hatchet.
1999 - Andrew Netzel: Mentor HS; Kent State. Editor, Daily Kent Stater, fall 2001.
2000...  Leana Donofrio: Lakewood HS; Kent State. Political affairs reporter, covering student government for Daily Kent Stater.
2001...  Matthew Hutton: St. Edward High; Ohio University. Covers the state beat for The Post, student newspaper. He had part of a story picked up by Associated Press.
2002...  Rami Daud: Lakewood High; LakewoodBuzz.com Advisory Board charter member, Kent State University.
2003...  Rebecca Trela: Kirtland High, Lakeland Community College, Ohio University.
2004...  Benjamin Sykes: Beachwood High School, Williams College.
2005...  Justin Armburger: Amherst Steele High School, Kent State University.
2006...  Amber Lewandowski: Amherst Steele High School, Otterbein College.
2007...  Sarah A. Miller: Rocky River High School, Ohio State University.
2008...  Melissa Kory: North Ridgeville High School, Ohio University.
2009...  Simonetta Quartell: Cleveland Heights High School, Kent State University.
2010...  Hanna Moosa: West Geauga High School, DePaul University

2011 ... Savannah S. Kannberg: Solon High School, University of Missouri





The Cleveland Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists is your best source for info, job opportunities, professional development, events, networking and shoptalk for journalists in all of Northern Ohio media.  Then there's Writer's Week, our e-letter that helps you stay in the communicators loop... more value from your SPJ membership.

You can join by fax, mail or securely with your credit card online by clicking here.

To learn more, email SPJ Cleveland's 2009-10 Membership Committee Chair Carrie Buchanan by clicking here.

Copyright 1996-2010 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved.
 Website Management is Courtesy of Nonprofit Newswire.