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Six chosen to run for NCEW board.

Three of six candidates will be chosen this fall to serve two-year terms on the NCEW board of directors. The nominees are:

* Harry Austin, editorial page editor of The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

* R. Thomas Berner, professor of journalism and American studies at the Pennsylvania State University.

* Ron Dzwonkowski, editorial page editor of The Detroit Free Press.

* David Holwerk, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee.

* Richard Mial, editorial page editor for the La Crosse Tribune in Wisconsin.

* Joy L. Haenlein, editorial page editor at The Advocate in Stamford, Connecticut.

Harry Austin began his newspaper career as a high school student, working as a part-time sports writer at The Chattanooga Times. He worked his way through college (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), serving the Times as a part-time general assignment and police reporter and as a reporter on courts, government, and political beats.

Following graduation, he bummed around the world for four years. Shortly after he began work as editorial writer for The Chattanooga Times in 1988, the morning Times and the afternoon Free Press were bought by Walter Hussman. The papers merged and became The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In January 1999, Austin became the editorial page editor of the Times's page. The paper has two distinct editorial pages -- with the Times page appropriately on the left side of a double-truck, opposite the conservative Free Press page -- seven days a week.

The Times page is regularly recognized with awards by the Tennessee Press Association and the Tennessee Education Association.

Since he became a member in 1988, Austin has attended all NCEW conventions. He also has attended several of the Knight School of Journalism editorial seminars and the State Department briefings, both of which are conducted in conjunction with NCEW.

Austin has served on the Membership Committee, chaired the Nominating Committee in 2001, and organized a regional NCEW critique seminar for regional college students at Vanderbilt University in 2001. For the past four years, he was the chair (and sole member) of the Syndicate Fair Committee, organizing the syndicate fair and compiling the convention evaluations. This year, he is assisting Phil Haslanger and Sandra Roberts with work on the Nashville convention, and has the specific assignment of organizing the Saturday professional panels.

R. Thomas Berner is co-chair of NCEW's Education Committee along immediate past president Fred Fiske. Together, they work to establish weekend workshops for college newspapers, in which NCEW members serve as faculty.

Berner teaches editorial writing at Pennsylvania State University. A Fulbright lecturer in China in 1994, he accompanied the NCEW members who went to China in May 2001 on a research visit.

Berner has published op-ed pieces in the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer. During his 27-year career at Penn State, he published six textbooks on journalism.

Berner began his professional newspaper career in 1961 at a small paper in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, and except for four years in the U.S. Navy, has always worked in journalism.

As a member of the board, Berner would like to strengthen ties between editorial page editors and educators, primarily by decoding the academic culture for the editors so they can work with educators in creating programs. Berner is also his college's director of continuing and distance education and would like to bring his knowledge about that to the NCEW.

Ron Dzwonkowski has been in journalism for 30 years, all of it in Michigan, "starting out in small -- make that teeny tiny -- market broadcasting" and graduating to The Associated Press and The Detroit Free Press. Early in 1998, he was named associate editor to the late Joe Stroud, former NCEW president and lifetime member. He was named editor of the editorial page when Stroud retired from that post in June of that year.

Dzwonkowski has attended the NCEW conventions in Ottawa and Denver, and in 2001 joined NCEW members for a tour of China.

Prior to joining the editorial page, Dzwonkowski spent 15 years in the Free Press newsroom as a reporter, assigning editor, and projects coordinator.

He writes: "In our busy little society, where people are more connected than ever electronically but perhaps less so than ever personally, I try to offer our editorial and op-ed pages as just about the only place left where the community can carry on a conversation through letters and op-eds. Twice a year, we bring in groups of letter writers to continue the conversation face to face. (For those of you thinking about trying this, the nastiest letter writers are usually the most civil people in the room.)

"We also like to regularly scrap the traditional editorial page look and do something different, perhaps a package of editorials on aspects of public access to information, or the world's hitting six billion people, or a photostory editorial or a full-page debate of editorial board members over an issue on which we cannot reach consensus.

"I think NCEW ought to foster this kind of non-traditional thinking among editorial page editors. We ought to be very concerned about the declining readership of our pages (and newspapers in general, too), and sharing ideas about how to recruit capable young writers to this stimulating area of journalism. It's been a useful organization to me, most often for the idea exchange that flows with every conversation."

David Holwerk was editorial page editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader from 1982 to 1994, managing editor of the Herald-Leader from 1994 until 1998, and editor of the Duluth News Tribune (with responsibilities that included the editorial page) from 1998 until September 2001. Since then, he has been editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee.

Holwerk first joined NCEW in 1982. He took part in the NCEW tour of Central America in 1984, was NCEW convention chair in 1992, and has contributed to The Masthead on several occasions.

He writes: "I have a vague recollection of being an unsuccessful candidate for the board at some point in the past. If memory serves, I was also appointed to fill out an the remainder of somebody's term on the board at some point.

"After more than two decades in this racket, I have regretfully concluded that the newspaper industry tends to place less value on editorial pages than readers do. As a result, editorial pages too often languish, struggling for resources and deprived of the tools that would enable them to bring readers to the paper. (Let me hasten to add that this generalization does not apply to my present employer -- nor, I am sure, to yours.)

"In one way or another, I have spent the past 20 years pursuing a higher profile (in the industry and at individual newspapers) for opinion pages and those who work on them. I would pursue the same goal as a member of the NCEW board.

"I also have a tendency to write short, and will not object if other candidates use their full 300-word allotment."

Richard Mial has worked for the La Crosse Tribune, on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin, since 1974 as a reporter, political writer, city editor, and opinion page editor. He joined NCEW in 1997 and attended the convention that year in Madison.

Mial is chair of the Regional Conferences Committee and has organized critique sessions in La Crosse, Madison, and Minneapolis. Last year, with the help of several other Wisconsin editorial writers, he organized an editorial writing component for the SPJ regional convention in suburban Minneapolis. That event included a critique session and a panel discussion on objectivity.

Working as a one-person editorial page staff -- handling letters to the editor, all writing duties, page design, and pagination, he has come to believe strongly in the role that NCEW can play to help provide support, advice, and a sense of community to writers and editors in smaller operations.

While those writers and editors may not often be able to take advantage of the foreign trips or Washington State Department briefings -- or even the annual convention -- they can benefit from regional conference opportunities closer to home. Helping to provide a broad range of continuing education opportunities for NCEW members would continue to be a top priority for him on the board.

Mial has also taught news writing and editorial writing at annual high school journalism seminars organized by the Chippewa Valley High School Press Association in Wisconsin. He serves as secretary on the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Joy Haenlein covered politics, fashion, and banking as a reporter. "So editorial writing seemed a natural next step," she writes. She has been the editorial page editor at The Advocate in Stamford, Connecticut, a 40,000- circulation daily, since August 1995.

"The job includes editing letters, columns, and a six-day-a-week op-ed page. It continues to challenge me. A tricky letter or difficult reader can still throw me, and managing my time effectively can mean the difference between sanity and chaos.

"That is why NCEW is so important to me. A quick telephone call or e-mail usually brings sound advice from an NCEW colleague. I work in a small shop and find that editorial writing can be very lonely, even if you spend your days talking to and meeting with people. It's good to have someone who understands how tough it is to turn out a daily editorial page. (Most people, even in newspapers, don't.) Over the years, I've also borrowed smart ideas for holiday op-ed pages, letter polices and writing better from NCEW friends."

She has contributed a few pieces to The Masthead and has served for about two years as a regional membership captain.

"As a board member, I'd like to help the one-man-bands and others who work in small shops. We need to share strategies that allow us to set the priorities. Running an editorial page and a family at the same time is of special interest to me. I also think most editorial pages are boring and need to better reflect the sense of place in their communities. Writing short isn't always the answer. I'd like to encourage more editorial page critiques for editors in small shops."
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Publication:The Masthead
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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