Connections: Journalism Forever

The Long Island Press Club was founded years ago by Karl Grossman

What was it like to be inducted into the Long Island Press Club Hall of Fame? At the Woodbury Country Club last Thursday for dinner and the announcement of many awards, I felt like an elder stateswoman visiting another country. Who were these 200 reporters and newscasters and graphic artists and videographers? When the prizes were given out, I began to find out. About 200 first, second, and third-place awards were presented, one for perhaps every person there, the club’s president told me afterward.

The club was founded years ago by Karl Grossman, as true a journalist as can be, who is now an eminent South Fork columnist and a State University at Old Westbury professor. In those days, Long Island had small, independent weeklies in almost every town and village. Today, chains have absorbed most of them, meaning that they now offer scant local news, or have disappeared altogether. In their place are online journals like Riverhead Local and Patch, although the latter wasn’t represented among the myriad awards. Blogs and podcasts also won prizes, as did social media campaigns and various uses of Twitter and Facebook. The media on Long Island have changed. Nevertheless, despite this, what the club calls narratives were predominant among the awards, and Newsday and News 12 were frequent winners. We sat next to the News 12 table, and enjoyed the collegial spirit when cheers went up for colleagues and strangers.

Jack Graves, our all but legendary sportswriter for decades, introduced me by reading excerpts from a nine-page treatise describing my tenure at The Star, and then I was pleased to say a few words. Jack and I have been rubbing elbows here for 50 years (think of that!) and I was surprised that he had taken such care to whittle his memories into a moving and humorous introductory speech. The whooping and hollering in the room quieted down for us, in respect perhaps for our antiquity or perhaps because many in the younger set were actually interested in hearing about the kind of journalism The Star represents. Is our profession, as we knew it for so long — not just structured but, indeed, made far more rewarding by the high ideals and standards we pledged our allegiance to in newspapering’s glory days — looked at as a curious relic of the past by the young award-winners at surrounding tables? Or do they feel the same sense of purpose and idealism, only with altered rules and standards? I guess time will tell.

Today’s “Connections” is a little shorter than usual. I think some letting up is warranted given that my first “Connections” was published on April 28, 1977. Being able to say I am in a Hall of Fame is swell, but it would please me even more if someone more clever than I, or more patient, would tell me how many columns I have written, so that I could brag about it. I haven’t missed a single week in all that time.