MU grad is among journalism medalists

Tuesday, September 2, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The sense of power in shaping the news and the satisfaction of providing a service to the public was enough for Jim Ellis, chief of correspondents for BusinessWeek magazine, to get started in journalism.

Ellis is one of six recipients of this year’s Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, to be awarded Friday at the Reynolds Alumni Center.

When Ellis started at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the late 1970s, business journalism was less important to the industry, he said.

“Business journalism used to play a very small part — where few understood its importance and even fewer were actually interested in it,” he said.

Now, as people take greater control of their financial lives, they look to business journalism for help, he said.

Ellis — a frequent guest on television shows such as CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” ABC World News This Morning and CNNfn’s “Street Sweep” — said he’s happy to be named a medalist.

“But I have to admit it’s a little scary, because I know some of the people in the past who have received this award, and I think they are even more deserving than I am,” he said.

A 1976 graduate of MU’s School of Journalism, Ellis is quick to credit his colleagues for some of his success.

“Being in the business long enough, you know it is the people you work with and the training you receive early on that are mostly responsible for the quality of your journalism,” he said.

The Honor Medals have been given out by the School of Journalism since 1930. Past medalists include Winston Churchill, Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Cronkite.

In addition to receiving medals, the honorees will lecture to students and faculty on Thursday and Friday.

Here are the rest of the honorees:

Nonprofit campaign group

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” This slogan, a staple in American culture and created by the Advertising Council Inc. on behalf of the United Negro College Fund, is one of many reasons the Ad Council is a medalist this year, according to the Journalism School. The nonprofit organization has worked on ad campaigns for 60 years and has received more than $1 billion in donated advertising each year since 1998.

Internationally known photographer

Margaret Steber, a former assistant managing editor for photography and features at the Miami Herald, has been widely honored in photojournalism. While she was at the Miami Herald, the paper was a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature photography and it won for the Elian Gonzalez story in 2002. Steber also worked for The New York Times Magazine, The London Sunday Times and Newsweek magazine.

Lauded St. Louis weekly

The St. Louis American, a weekly newspaper targeted to African Americans, publishes more than 68,000 copies every week and recently won the National Newspaper Association’s Russwurm Award as the top African-American newspaper in the United States.

Worldwide association for publishing

Ifra, based in Darmstadt, Germany, is a forum for publishing ideas and technologies for more than 2,200 publishing groups and supplier companies in 70 countries. It is being honored in part because of its advances in journalism, including the development and operation of the Newsplex micro-newsroom for demonstration, training and research.

Southwestern magazine and its founder

In its 30th year of publication, Texas Monthly has a circulation of 300,000. Its publisher and founder, Michael Levy, was honored in 1999 by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award for the magazine’s high editorial quality.

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