The McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership is given annually to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of McGruder, a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a graduate of Kent State University. McGruder died of cancer in April 2002. A past president of APME and former member of American Society of News Editors’ Board of Directors, McGruder was a relentless diversity champion.
This year, the 11th annual awards were sponsored by the Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the Freedom Forum. The winners will be recognized Thursday, Sept. 20, at the annual APME conference in Nashville, Tenn. The honorees will each receive $2,500 and a leadership plaque.
"We’re thrilled to recognize Tom Arviso and James Mallory, both champions of diversity in newsrooms in the spirit of Bob McGruder,” said Bob Heisse, president of APME and executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. "Their work, particularly in these challenging times in our industry, is impressive. APME is proud to present the McGruder award each year to outstanding recipients like Arviso and Mallory.”
In the nominating letter for Arviso, Teri Hayt, managing editor of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, who has worked closely with Arviso, described him as a journalist "with a deep commitment to nurturing minority journalists and delivering top notch news reports to a minority population.”
The Navajo Times began in 1958 as a newspaper funded by the Navajo Nation. Arviso was hired as managing editor in 1988 and became editor and publisher in 1993. Under his leadership, the paper separated from the tribal government in 2004 to become an independent business and newspaper. The Navajo Times now is the largest Native American-owned newspaper in the United States with a circulation of 21,400 and more than 120,000 readers weekly.
"The Times staff flourishes under Arviso’s guidance and determination to make the Navajo tribal government accountable to its people,” Hayt said. "Because of him, more young Native Americans are going into journalism as a career.”
Arviso has spearheaded press freedoms for Native American newspapers for almost three decades, Hayt said. In 1997, he was awarded the Native American Journalists Association’s Wassaja Award for extraordinary service to Native journalism.
Arviso spends countless hours talking to youth in his community and students at the universities in the four corners of Navajo nation – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, his nomination said.
"We need our own people to come in and tell our own stories and really serve as educators to the rest of the non-Native people,” Arviso says. "They can serve as the real storytellers of today.”
James Mallory, who retired in April as the senior managing editor and vice president of news at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was nominated because he "has been a strong advocate for the AJC and the journalism industry in all of the areas that the McGruder award highlights: recruiting, development, retention and content,” read his nomination, led by Managing Editor Monica Richardson with contributions from more than a half-dozen colleagues.
"The recruitment of talented journalists of color was important to James. He was vocal about making sure that in hiring at the AJC, every newsroom job opening included a diverse pool. We could always count on him to ask the question or nudge the hiring managers to make sure the talent pool was diverse,” Richardson wrote.
The nomination continued, "He considered, when others may have overlooked it, the impact that staff changes and restructuring would have on diversity in the newsroom. He made sure we had conversations about the way minority reporters and editors were being evaluated.”
Mallory also was a mentor to many young journalists.
"I can attest personally that he pushed and challenged me to find my purpose, create my brand and to hone my leadership skills,” Richardson said. "He taught me the value of developing my career, and with his guidance, along with other great mentors like him, I have moved into positions of greater authority, responsibility and expertise. Under his mentorship at the AJC I have gone from a bureau editor to AJC managing editor.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Kevin Riley described Mallory as a trusted adviser who faced demanding changes with determination and fearlessness. "He made us better journalists and the AJC a better newspaper,” Riley said. "He brings honor to our industry.”
Riley also said, "James’ steady hand guided the newspaper through some great times – and some difficult times, too. When research told us that readers were unhappy, James rallied the newsroom around those findings. He led efforts to increase reader satisfaction, and his tireless work has helped ensure that the AJC newsroom lives by that research day in and day out.”
Mallory served 24 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, serving in a number of roles including assistant business editor, news personnel manager, night assistant managing editor, AME/Business and Deputy Managing Editor/Metro & Business. He was named managing editor in 2002, the first African American to hold the position at the AJC. He became Senior Managing Editor/Vice President in 2007.
A Detroit native, Mallory also worked as a reporter and assistant business editor at the Detroit News and as a business reporter at the Grand Rapids Press and the Lansing State Journal in Michigan.
Amy Glennon, publisher of the Journal-Constitution, said Mallory was a calm and thoughtful voice as the organization wrestled with questions of survival. "A principled man, he understood what had to be done to right our ship and he believed it must be done without compromising integrity or core beliefs,” she said. "Fairness and honesty were his hallmarks in an era marked by restructuring and downsizing. His influence will be felt for a long time here at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the example he set, through the young talents he mentored and through the department heads whose perspectives he enriched.”
Angela Tuck, the AJC’s education editor who previously served as the paper’s public editor, newsroom recruiter and metro editor, said much like Bob McGruder, with whom she worked at the Detroit Free Press, Mallory’s imprint can be felt nationally. "The interns and journalists these men hired are now working in top reporting and editing jobs in their newsrooms,” Tuck said.
AJC reporter Ernie Suggs said each year during the evaluation process he would write on his self assessment: "To be like James Mallory.”
Suggs said he met Mallory as a young reporter and worked hard to win his support. Suggs, then a reporter in Durham, N.C., would send every big story he wrote to James and would let him know of every award. Eventually, Suggs was hired in Atlanta. "Often, when I achieved something, I would stop by James’ office to let him know. Not that he probably didn’t know already and although I probably never said the exact words – but I wanted him to know that whatever I achieved was a direct result of the influence he had on me. Even outside of the newsroom, from becoming the national vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists to a Harvard University Nieman Fellow in 2009.”
Arviso and Mallory will be recognized for their contributions to diversity in the news industry at the annual Associated Press, APME and McGruder awards luncheon at noon on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Wyatt Center Rotunda of Vanderbilt University.
The 2012 judges included representatives of the Freedom Forum, Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the American Society of News Editors. Jurors assessed the nominees based on their significant contribution during a given year or over a number of years to furthering the cause of diversity in content and in recruiting, developing and retaining journalists of color.