John Bodette, Charles Pittman win McGruder diversity leadership awards
Posted Aug. 20, 2008
John Bodette, executive editor of the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times, and
Charles Pittman, senior vice president for publishing at Schurz
Communications, have been named winners of the seventh annual Robert G.
McGruder Awards for Diversity Leadership.
The two will be honored as champions of newsroom diversity at the
Associated Press Managing Editors convention Sept. 10 in Las Vegas.
The awards are given by the Freedom Forum, which provides the
funding and administers the program, in partnership with APME and the
American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). Each honoree receives
$2,500 and a sculpture.
The awards go to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who
embody the spirit of McGruder, a former APME president and executive
editor of the Detroit Free Press and relentless diversity advocate who
died in April 2002. Judges singled out Bodette and Pittman for
furthering diversity in content and in recruiting, developing and
retaining journalists of color.
"John Bodette and Charles Pittman deserve recognition because their
qualities are so similar to those of Bob McGruder, and because they
haven't lost their focus on the importance of diversity despite
extraordinary economic challenges for the industry," said Jack Marsh,
vice president/diversity programs of the Freedom Forum and Diversity
Institute. "Their passion for diversity is unwavering and an
inspiration to others. They model what they preach by mentoring, hiring
and promoting journalists of color. Their organizations and readers
reap the benefits of newsroom diversity through richer, fairer, more
inclusive and more relevant content."
Although Bodette and Pittman have responsibilities that are
different in size and scope, the influence of both is vast and their
passion is contagious, the judges noted. Bodette works at the
community-newspaper level in a single market. Pittman advocates
diversity as an industry leader and media executive responsible for 17
Pittman, who won in the over-75,000 circulation category, "has been
a persistent and influential voice for diversity and industry change,
particularly among the people who lead newspaper companies," said
Jeanne Fox-Alston, vice president of the Newspaper Association of
America Foundation. "Through actions and words, he has leveraged the
access that he has to industry leaders, and at his company has set an
example for others to follow."
Pittman chairs the diversity committee of the Newspaper Association
of America, sits on the Associated Press and American Press Institute
boards of directors and will be president of the Inland Daily Press
Association in 2010.
In August, UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., announced that Schurz
is one of only three media companies working with it to increase the
number of senior newsroom managers of color through the "Ten by 2010"
initiative. Each summer, Schurz Communications newsrooms also host a
dozen multimedia journalism interns from the Freedom Forum Diversity
Institute. And Schurz filled several full-time positions in recent
years with graduates of another Diversity Institute journalism-training
"Charles understands, as so many do not, that if we abandon the
goals and principles of our business now, we're truly lost," said Tim
Harmon, managing editor of the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, a Schurz
newspaper. "Charles stands tall for the idea that newspapers'
obligations to serve all parts of their community hasn't gone away just
because advertising and circulation revenues are lagging."
In the under-75,000 circulation category, Bodette was cited for a
positive and profound impact on journalists of color, his newspaper and
the industry. "It is wonderful to read the praise about him" from
interns and staff members, said Pam Fine, diversity chair for ASNE and
one of the judges. "That shows that his legacy of championing diversity
will extend long into the future. It also shows the impact one
committed editor can have on the careers of individuals."
Bodette "sets a tone and creates a culture that invites journalists
of color to boldly display their abilities and launch their careers,"
according to the nomination from St. Cloud Times Publisher Bill
Albrecht and Managing Editor Sue Halena. "He has made that a priority
during his 33-year tenure, first as managing editor and now as
executive editor. For the 45 professionals in the room, the welcoming
is as natural as breathing and talking. ... That's just the way it is.
Ask John why it is and you will eventually hear his creed: Do the right
Bodette was recognized for his recruiting and mentoring of young
journalists. In recent years, the St. Cloud Times hired seven interns
from the American Indian Journalism Institute and 20 interns from the
Chips Quinn Scholars program. Bodette is a visiting journalist in
classrooms and on college campuses, and a career coach to aspiring and
rising journalists. He also is a volunteer mentor at the annual Native
American Journalism Career Conference at Crazy Horse Memorial in South
"During my five years at the St. Cloud Times, John became an
invaluable coach and mentor to me, always encouraging me to think big
and go for the key stories even when it seemed impossible," wrote
Michelle Tan, now a staff writer at Army Times. "He taught me to care
about our readers, be passionate about my job and look for the truth no
matter how difficult it may be. ... John's passion for journalism and
his heart for young journalists have left a lasting impression."
Judges were Calvin Stovall, executive editor, Press &
Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y., representing APME; Charlotte Hall,
editor of the Orlando Sentinel, and Fine of the William Allen White
School of Journalism & Mass Communications at The University of
Kansas, representing ASNE; Aki Soga, editorial-page editor of The
Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, representing UNITY; last year's winners
Joe Grimm, former recruiting and development editor at the Detroit Free
Press, and Wanda Lloyd, executive editor of the Montgomery (Ala.)
Advertiser; and Marsh, representing the Freedom Forum.