By Bailey Knecht,
As the six new members of the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame were inducted Friday, Feb. 24, they all espoused the value in questioning authority and persisting in the face of adversity.
A dedication to print journalism and local news also was emphasized by the newest Hall of Fame members as they were inducted in a ceremony attended by about 75 people.
Inducted were Eliot White of the Record-Journal Publishing Company, based in Meriden, Conn.; Marcia Green of The Valley Breeze newspaper group, based in Lincoln, R.I.; Martin Langeveld of New England Newspapers Inc., based in Pittsfield, Mass.; Candace Page of The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press and Seven Days of Burlington; Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe; Albert B. Southwick of the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass.
White is president and publisher of the family-owned Record-Journal Publishing Company, whose flagship newspaper is the Record-Journal of Meriden and which has been in business for 150 years. He has also served on the New England Newspaper and Press Association board of directors.
In his acceptance speech, White emphasized his company’s dedication to developing its employees into skilled journalists.
“As a news organization, the Record-Journal has tried to create an environment that promotes quality journalism by hiring good people and giving them the resources and training and support necessary to do their job,” he said.
He also discussed the need for journalists to hold higher powers accountable.
“As we know, it is more important than ever to keep government in the open with strong investigative journalism. Our future continues to be good, local community news,” he said. “What we do every day is important for our local communities and essential for a strong democracy.”
Green has been editor in chief for the past 21 years at The Valley Breeze newspaper group, based in Lincoln, R.I., and publisher of its flagship newspaper, The Valley Breeze in three editions, and two sister newspapers, all in Rhode Island.
She formerly was a reporter and city editor of The Times of Pawtucket, R.I. In 2014, she was inducted into The Rev. William Blackstone Society for her impact on the Blackstone River Valley community.
Green called the Hall of Fame induction a “humbling honor.”
“I think (journalism) is important work, and I’ve happily dedicated my career to it,” she said.
She said that, although the technology has changed, the goal of journalists remains the same as when she began her career in the field.
“The tools today are vastly better, but we write the same stories, and continue to write the same stories that touch everyday life,” she said. “I have been more than honored to carry the news of our Northern Rhode Island communities, and I’m grateful for a career to be paid as a storyteller.”
Langeveld was employed in the newspaper industry for 30 years before he retired in 2008 as publisher of Pittsfield, Mass.-based New England Newspapers Inc., publisher of The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield, and of the Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner and the Manchester Journal, all in Vermont. He then began a blog, News after Newspapers, and contributed to the Nieman Journalism Lab website.
In 2016, he returned on an interim basis as publisher of New England Newspapers for about five months. He is now on the New England Newspapers’ board of directors.
“After being out of the business for a while, then coming back into it, it was really a pleasant surprise to discover that there really was still a lot of energy, a lot of dedication and a lot of creativity, and just a great crew of people to come and work with,” he said. “The chance to do this, to be involved in this transition, really turned out to be one of the most personally rewarding things that I’ve ever done.”
Langeveld said he considers the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame honor to be a proud ending to his news career.
“Now I’ve capped (my career) with this induction into the Hall of Fame, which I never really expected,” he said. “It’s a great honor.”
Page was a reporter for the Burlington Free Press for more than 30 years whose reporting focused on the environment. She retired in 2013 but continues to serve as an editor and a mentor to reporters at the weekly Seven Days of Burlington.
Page was a reporter at The Providence (R.I.) Journal in the 1970s, which she said is where she developed her passion for journalism.
“I became a reporter in 1973-74 during Watergate, when journalism was a cause and a calling, not just a job or a career,” she said. “Holding government accountable was a heroic pursuit, not just to journalists, but to our audience at that time … I believed in the importance of what I was doing.”
She said questioning authority was one of her primary goals as a reporter.
“I’d really like to think of tonight, and this honor for me, which I am deeply appreciative of, as a way of honoring the values that we all feel about our mutual calling,” she said. “The importance of reporting the facts, casting a skeptical and questioning eye on authority of all kind, and speaking truth to power — I certainly hope that that’s a cause that I have served in my time. It’s reaffirming to understand that there are people here who still want to do that.”
Ryan began writing for The Boston Globe’s sports section in 1968 and continued until his formal retirement in 2012. He continues to write columns most Sundays for the Globe. He also has written 12 books and has made numerous radio and television appearances throughout his career.
In his acceptance speech, Ryan expressed his commitment to print journalism.
“I cannot live without newspapers; that’s who I am,” he said. “And though I now am known for anybody out there in the great beyond under 40, or maybe even under 50, because of my presence on television, I can assure you that when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, I see a writer, a newspaper writer.”
He said the Globe was the perfect place for him to learn and grow as a writer.
“We were given the freedom to be creative,” he said. “We were given the chance to stretch our journalistic wings.”
Ryan also said that he felt fortunate for the opportunities he had during his career.
“We all know that our business is under siege and in peril, and who knows what the future is going to be? I just know this — I’m very grateful that I did it when I did it and where I did it, that’s for sure,” he said.
Albert B. Southwick
Southwick is well-known for his role at the Telegram & Gazette, where he continues to write a weekly column at age 96 after retiring in 1985 from his full-time job there as chief editorial writer, a position he had held since 1968.
He began his employment at the Telegram & Gazette in the early 1940s before serving in the Navy during World War II, then returning to the Telegram & Gazette in 1952.
Southwick joked about his retirement, noting his continued contributions to the Telegram & Gazette.
“I retired in 1985,” he said. “Let this be a warning to you. I don’t know why you retire at 62 or 65 or 67 — you probably have 30 or 40 years ahead of you.”
Like Ryan, Southwick said he was grateful to have worked in the field when he did.
“I was lucky,” he said. “It was a time when people made money (in) print journalism, which is getting harder and harder to do.”
Southwick stressed the need for solid journalism in the current political climate.
“I’ve had a very satisfying career in a profession I love, providing facts and thought to our readers,” he said. “Good journalism is more important than ever in this era of alternative facts and social media misinformation. Pursuing the truth and reporting it accurately is going to be a continuing challenge.”
NEW ENGLAND NEWSPAPER HALL OF FAME
‘What we do every day is important for our local communities and essential for a strong democracy.’
—Eliot White, President and publisher
Record-Journal Publishing Company, Meriden, Conn.
‘The tools today are vastly better, but we write the same stories, and continue to write the same stories that touch everyday life.’
—Marcia Green, Editor in chief
Valley Breeze newspaper group, Lincoln, R.I.
‘After being out of the business for a while, then coming back into it, it was really a pleasant surprise to discover that there really was still a lot of energy, a lot of dedication and a lot of creativity, and just a great crew of people to come and work with.’
—Martin Langevald, Board member, retired publisher
New England Newspapers Inc., Pittsfield, Mass.
‘I’d really like to think of tonight, and this honor for me, which I am deeply appreciative of, as a way of honoring the values that we all feel about our mutual calling.’
Retired reporter, Burlington (Vt.) Free Press
Editor and mentor, Seven Days, Burlington, Vt.
‘We all know that our business is under seige and in peril, and who knows what the future is going to be. I just know this – I’m very grateful that I did it when I did it and where I did it, that’s for sure.’
—Bob Ryan, Sports columnist, retired sportswriter
‘Good journalism is more important than ever in this era of alternative facts and social media misinformation. Pursuing the truth and reporting it accurately is going to be a continuing challenge.’
—Albert B. Southwick, Columnist, retired chief editorial writer
Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.