Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award

2015 New England Newspaper of the Year

This special award, which is named in honor of longtime New England journalist and former New England Press Association Executive Director Bob Wallack, recognizes an individual who has an exceptional record of commitment to community journalism. This award celebrates the accomplishments of someone who, over a sustained period of time, has faithfully served the community for which they are responsible and has played an active, constructive role in contributing to its quality of life. Anyone may nominate a colleague, co-worker, subordinate, superior, mentor, retiree, etc., who works or worked in our six-state region and truly exemplifies the ideal of a community journalist, just as Bob Wallack did.

Bob Wallack Community Journalism
Award Recipient

Stanley Moulton

Daily Hampshire Gazette - Northampton, MA

Stan and I worked together at the Daily Hampshire Gazette for 35 years, before I retired as publisher in 2013. For 22 of those years I was editor of the paper and Stan was an indispensable member of the news team.

Stan was a reporter at the Gazette when I arrived in 1977. He moved up to city editor and over the years filled a number of key leadership roles in the newsroom, including web editor, sports editor, managing editor and night managing editor. Stan brough great passion to every role: dispatching reporters and photographers when news broke, challenging their copy, identifying good enterprise projects, pressing for public records, maintaining high professional standards, stepping up to the challenge of digital, and hustling, always hustling, to get the story first and get it right. I can think of no major story covered by the Gazette in those 35 years that Stan was not involved with in some way.

Stan lives in Northampton and his knowledge of the city and surrounding communities is encyclopedic. News stories or columns he wrote never lacked for accuracy, fairness, background or context. I consulted him often when writing editorials. His knowledge and insight always made for stronger opinion pieces. Recently he was on a panel with the current Northampton mayor and his predecessors back to 1980. Stan was masterful discussing significant news events over that time span and drawing parallels among city administrations.

Stan served the newspaper and his community in other ways: organizing and moderating candidate debates for every election, initiating sit-downs between Gazette staff and political leaders, hosting community discussions on timely topics, speaking to school and civic groups, raising money for scholarships, and as a lay leader in his church. He coached the Gazette team in the annual PTO adult spelling bee, screened candidates for civic awards the paper presented in conjunction with United Way, and, when we needed volunteers to lead a tour through the plant, Stan always stepped up. The list goes on.

Perhaps Stan's greatest legacy to the profession is his oversight of the Gazette's internship program, a role he has filled for at least 25 years. Stan would interview every intern applicant, decide which ones to accept, determine their desk assignment based on skill level and interests, and then run an orientation and training program that was essentially Journalism 101. He would check in with their supervising editors throughout the semester, and prepare the forms needed for the students to get academic credit for the experience. It is a very aggressive internship program for a small daily, but it has worked because of Stan's deep commitment. The number of Gazette interns now working in the profession attest to his efforts, as does a file drawer stuffed with letters and cards of thanks.

Stan Moulton is a consummate community journalist. The professional awards he has earned, and those earned by the Gazette thanks to his work, are one way to measure his work. The tributes from interns and young reporters he trained are another. Most important is the high regard and deep respect Stan enjoys in Northampton for his 40 years of fair and comprehensive journalism, and service to the community.

Entries for the AP Sevellon Brown Journalist of the Year are due in June. The awards are presented at the NENPA Fall Conference.

Bob Wallack Community Journalism
Award Recipient

Thor Jourgensen

The Daily Item - Lynn, MA

How do you weave the fabric of a community into a tapestry of its triumphs and tragedies? Answer: One stitch at a time, which is what Thor Jourgensen has been doing for 27 years as a reporter for The Daily Item in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Thor is, by any definition a community-oriented reporter committed to giving a voice to residents throughout the Greater Lynn area. His early mentors in the business impressed upon him the importance of stepping aside as a writer and letting the people on whom he reported tell their story. He consistently applies those words of wisdom as he works to craft stories around people who are passionate about their community and the issues each faces.

Thor has not told one person’s story once and then moved on to the next headline or topical issue. He has written about the people who built Lynn, like the Migliaccio family’s three generations, from the immigrant who built a new life in Lynn to the sons who committed their teen years and 20s to carrying on a family legacy through their local florist business.

When he told the story of a Guatemalan congregation rebuilding a giant brick church in Lynn’s center, it was only after telling the stories of Jewish Americans who made the church a temple and brought it to its most glorious heights.

In decades spent reporting on Lynn and surrounding communities, Thor told the story of Lynn’s residents, knitting together tales of struggle and promise. He has repeatedly written about local veterans, like the woman whose face was the last one American soldiers saw before they died on a remote Pacific island. When a national veterans’ organization marked a milestone, Thor made sure the accomplishment could be seen by Item readers on the face of a local Afghan war veteran.

He told the story 20 years ago of a Lynn woman who turned terror at the hands of an abuser into founding an organization providing safe haven to abused women. In 2003, Portal to Hope and the Massachusetts Legislature honored Thor’s commitment to domestic violence prevention reporting.

In 2010 when domestic violence claimed a couple’s life, he told their story through a tragic account of how the local court system missed the warning signs of abuse.

No school child’s achievement, no senior’s hobby, no disenfranchised resident’s struggle is too pedestrian for Thor to report on, stitching the story into the tapestry of life in the city he lives and works in. Thor doesn’t just report on the community, he is an active part of the community.

Some of his greatest rewards of the job come from gratitude expressed by subjects of the more difficult stories for his fair and accurate reporting. And sometimes, he says, “thank you” from a parent, or from the subject of one of his human-interest stories, goes a long way.

These are just a few examples of many throughout Thor’s three decade-long career that demonstrate his reporting experience, the commitment he has made to community journalism, and his body of work which makes him a most worthy recipient of the Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award.

Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award Recipient

Steve Damish

The Enterprise - Brockton, MA

Enterprise Managing Editor Steve Damish began writing about opiate addiction in 2006, when he learned of two Brockton High School students who had died from heroin overdoses – one of them an acclaimed dancer who had performed at the White House.

His Sunday columns about the individuals drew calls and letters from the parents of other overdose victims, many of whom had felt isolated, frustrated and stigmatized, asking that he dig deeper. He did. By attending support groups, visiting with addicts and their families, and studying data. He quickly realized the problem was far worse than people know. He marshaled the resources of the newsroom in what was to become an eight-year effort not only to reveal the breadth and depth of the problem, but to gain support for intervention, treatment and understanding.

Under his direction, the newspaper undertook two ground-breaking series that were the first to expose the prevalence of opioid addiction in southeastern Massachusetts and its impact on communities and families as well as individuals. The results were “Wasted Youth” and “Wasted Youth – A Deadly Surge,” published in 2007 and 2008. The two series revealed that dozens of young adults throughout the Brockton area had died, hundreds had overdosed – and scores of families and communities had been fractured, mostly from the drugs OxyContin and heroin. Both series ran for four days and featured extensive print and online components. The centerpieces for each day’s presentation were profiles of local addicts written by Damish himself.

To report these stories, he spent months visiting with addicts and their families in sober houses, treatment facilities, halfway homes, recovery schools, drug houses and their homes. To reach addicts, Steve would deliver them a Thanksgiving meal at their sober house, pray with them at a friend’s graveside, or sit and hold their hands as they fought through withdrawal and recovery. His personal commitment helped to convince everyone featured in the stories to allow their real names and photos to be used, despite the stigma connected to drug addiction.

For more information, please contact:
Megan Sherman

Promoting Growth and Excellence in New England Newspapers since 1950