Coloradoan wins ISWNE’s Eugene Cervi Award
Journalism | March 14, 2010
A lifelong Coloradoan who had two distinctive careers – as a newspaperman and as a professor in the Journalism and Technical Communication Department – has won the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors’ most prestigious award.
Garrett Ray, of Fort Collins, was presented with the Eugene Cervi Award at ISWNE’s annual conference in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on June 26. The award honors the memory of the late Eugene Cervi of the Rocky Mountain Journal in Denver by recognizing a newspaper editor who has consistently acted in the conviction that “good journalism begets good government.”
The award is presented not for a single brave accomplishment, but for a career of outstanding public service through community journalism and for adhering to the highest standards of the craft with the deep reverence for the English language that was the hallmark of Cervi’s writing. The award also recognizes consistently aggressive reporting of government at the grassroots level and interpretation of local affairs.
Ray edited and published the Littleton Independent in Colorado from 1966 to 1981, then embarked on a second career as a CSU faculty member in the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication.
A 1959 graduate of the University of Colorado, Ray worked as acting editor of the Bent County Democrat in Las Animas, Colo., and then on the advertising staff of the Box Elder News and Journal in Brigham City, Utah. In 1961 he became a reporter on the Littleton Independent and Arapahoe Herald under Houstoun “Hous” Waring, one of the nation’s great weekly editors. Five years later, Waring sold the papers to Ray and his backshop partner, Vernon Bangert.
With Waring, Ray co-founded the Littleton Press Council, and with Littleton’s city manager, he co-founded the Littleton Leadership retreat. Both were precursors of the “civic journalism” movement of the 1990s.
Ray served as president of the ISWNE, the Colorado Press Association, and the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He was a Congressional Fellow in Washington, D.C., and a Knight Fellow at Stanford University. He received ISWNE’s Golden Quill award for editorial writing in 1980.
After selling the newspapers in 1981, Ray produced local cable TV documentaries and a weekly interview program. In 1984 he joined the journalism faculty at CSU, teaching media ethics as well as reporting, editing and management. He wrote the monthly “Editor’s Notebook” column for Publishers’ Auxiliary until his retirement from CSU in 2001.
“He’s been a frequent guest speaker or trainer just about everywhere in the U.S., a columnist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine, and for the National Newspaper Association’s Publishers’ Auxiliary,” wrote Brian Steffens, executive director of the NNA, in a letter of nomination for Ray. “His wit and wisdom have appeared in countless state press newsletters and several other industry publications. It would be hard to imagine somewhere in this great country that Garrett has not touched a community, where that community is served by a community newspaper.”
Other letters of nomination spoke to Ray’s dedication to ethical, responsible journalism and professional integrity. “If one could put a face on ethical journalism, it would be Garrett Ray’s visage,” wrote Guy and Marcia Wood, former publishers of the Fremont County SUN and the Fremont Trader in Cañon City, Colo. “His recognition is long overdue.”