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PRESS CLUB OF TOLEDO

Touchstone Awards honor excellence in news, public service

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    Connie Schultz delivers the keynote address during the Press Club of Toledo's Touchstone Awards on Thursday.

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    Patricia Reiber and her son Chris Reiber during the Press Club of Toledo's Touchstone Awards. The Golden Touchstone Award for a lifetime of achievement in journalism went, posthumously, to Donald Reiber, an associate professor of communication and director of the department of communications' media services at the University of Toledo. He died Sept. 20, 2015.

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    Blade reporter Vanessa McCray wins an Excellence in Journalism Award.

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    Mitchell

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    Taylor

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    Shively

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    Steigerwald

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    Sopher

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    Oostra

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The Blade received Touchstone Awards in journalism in two categories Thursday during an annual Press Club of Toledo ceremony to honor excellence.

Besides recognizing journalism, the Press Club presented awards in community categories during the event at the Toledo Club and listened to keynote speaker Connie Schultz, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

During her keynote talk, Ms. Schultz reflected on growing up in a working-class household in Ashtabula, Ohio, and her path to journalism. She said that she didn’t know until she spoke with a high school guidance counselor that a person could do what she loved for a living. The oldest of four, she was the first to get a college education.

“My dad vowed none of us would carry a lunch pail to work,” Ms. Schultz said.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2016 Touchstone Awards

The nationally syndicated columnist, formerly with the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, spoke of the community of journalists, of professional attributes and duties.

“We are the last stop before corruption, before they get away with it,” Ms. Schultz said.

And she spoke of the need to ask and to listen.

“Any story you can think of is about the humans in it,” she said.

Ms. Schultz is married to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), who this summer was considered a prospect to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

Asked how close he came to being the nominee, Ms. Schultz said, “Closer than any of you knew, because we actually did what they told us, asked us to do, we kept it to ourselves.’’

“It is an incredible experience to be vetted for the vice presidency,” Ms. Schultz said. “It is the most intrusive thing I have ever experienced, and I’ve gone through a very testy divorce. And in fact that was one of the topics, and just for me they sent lawyers for a 2½-hour interview in my home.’’

But Ms. Schultz and Mr. Brown preferred that he stay in the Senate — in part because his replacement would have been chosen by Gov. John Kasich, a Republican. She said that Mr. Brown could be chairman of the Banking Committee if Democrats win back the Senate majority.

“And I can’t say that without a smile because I just think of all the fun he’s going to have,” Ms. Schultz said.

She also wondered what would happen to her as a journalist.

“If he had wanted it, and if he had been asked, and he had said yes, I would have been all in and we would have figured it out,” Ms. Schultz said. She also teaches at Kent State University, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1979.

In Touchstone journalism honors, Blade staff writer Vanessa McCray received the award in the daily print category for her reporting on efforts in the Toledo Public Schools to prevent students from dropping out and boost drooping graduation rates.

The Blade staff also received a Touchstone Award for bringing excellence in journalism to the newspaper’s digital endeavors.

In the nondaily print category, the Toledo City Paper received a Touchstone for reporting on Planned Parenthood.

A Touchstone Award in broadcasting went to Viviana Hurtado, of WTOL-TV, Channel 11, and WUPW-TV, Channel 36, for her series on an Army veteran who was the sole survivor of an improvised explosive device attack in Iraq.

Haley Taylor, a host on WGTE-FM, received a Touchstone in the radio category for her ongoing weekly series on connections in the arts, culture, and community, the Rough Draft Diaries.

The Touchstone in the student print category went to Holly Shively of the BG News at Bowling Green State University for her reporting on mental illness. In the student broadcast category, Dustin Sopher of BGSU received the Touchstone for his work about the 1975 Poe Ditch Music Festival held at the football stadium on campus.

The Golden Touchstone Award for a lifetime of achievement in journalism went, posthumously, to Donald Reiber, an associate professor of communication and director of the department of communications' media services at the University of Toledo. He died Sept. 20, 2015.

Touchstone Awards in journalism were judged by the Press Club of Denver.

Scholarships named for the late Bernard F. Judy, who was editor-in-chief of The Blade, were awarded to Ms. Shively and Amy Steigerwald, both of BGSU, and Abigail Sullivan of the University of Toledo.

The Touchstone Lifetime Achiever Award went to Jerry Anderson, of WTOL-TV, Channel 11, and WUPW-TV, Channel 36, a longtime local television news anchor who also presides at local charity events.

The Touchstone Contributor Award was presented to Randy Oostra, president and chief executive of ProMedica, for his leadership in health care entity and the imminent move of ProMedica corporate offices to the downtown riverfront.

Local awardees were selected by a panel of community judges. London Mitchell, a former Press Club president and news director of Cumulus radio stations in Toledo, was master of ceremonies.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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