CJA Honors Outstanding Journalists

by Joseph G. Lariosa


“Without journalists, there is no journalism. And without journalism, there is no democracy.”
— Aurlie Martin, Vice President of the Federation of Association of Spain’s Journalists.

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Some 1,000 full-time newsroom jobs were lost in 2011, a decline of 2.4 percent, according to the American Society of News Editors employment census released in April of this year.

Allen Rafalson, president of the Chicago Journalists Association, told a small group who attended the CJA 73rd annual dinner awards rites at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago, Illinois last Friday, Oct. 5, “the wave of firings” of journalists “are not only happening here but also in other countries.” Some “8,000 Spanish journalists have lost their jobs over the past four years due to a poor economy. Aurlie Martin, vice president of the Federation of Association of Spain’s Journalists said it best, ‘Without journalists, there is no journalism. And without journalism, there is no democracy.’”

Rafalson, however, cheered the bleak atmosphere by saying, “But my friends, all is not gloom and doom. There are exceptions as the financial, digital and wire services sectors – where Reuters and Bloomberg have been expanding – are not only adding positions, but are also hiring stars from other newspaper organizations.”

He added, “Another positive development in 2011 was that after years of talk and no action, the industry had begun to embrace pay walls for digital content. That should help bring added revenues, which may stabilize employment.

The New York Times did this most prominently and has been followed by roughly 150 small, mid-sized and metro dailies, which have instituted variations of the so-called metered model that the Times used on offered premium paid sites. Typically a metered plan allows free views of a limited number of articles, so a site retains its traffic from search links and social media recommendations.”


Rafalson suggested pay walls should be encouraged from among small and mid-sized and metro newspapers by setting up pricing standards, eliminating free views, to add revenues that “will continue to help keep news staffs on their payroll.”

Despite predictions from 10 newspaper companies that many newspapers would reduce the printing of hard copies “on Sundays or perhaps two or three days a week,” Rafalson said he just returned from a journalism seminar held at California State University where he learned that “two investors have purchased the Orange County Register and hired more than 30 journalists, who believe that there is room for both print and digital.”

Rafalson opened his talk with his tribute to CJA’s Vice President, Paul McGrath, a veteran “consummate journalist,” who died of heart attack last July 18, 2012.  McGrath had been helping CJA in extending scholarship for high school students, who  pursue journalism programs.

Bill Kurtis, co-anchor of the weekday CBS Channel 2 News with Walter Jacobson, was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Kurtis described the changes in the industry from 1966 when he first joined CBS Channel 2 News in an “unusual month after the case of the (mass-murderer Richard) Speak in 1966 when it took films “45 minutes to process and another 45 minutes to edit” from footages taken from Peoria, Illinois, where Speck was tried by the jury.

Kurtis added when he teamed up with Walter (Jacobson) in 1973, “we introduced electronic news gathering devices, huge video taped cameras used in convention.”

Accepting the Daniel Pearl Award was Adela Navarro Bello, a general director of Zeta, an independent weekly news magazine published in Tijuana, Mexico.  Bello and her staff regularly expose corruption in local and federal governments as well as organized crime and drug trafficking. She was introduced by Chicago’s Mexico’s Consul General Eduardo Arnal Palomera.

Bello said in accepting the award, “integrity of an individual and integrity of a journalist result in a free press with no compromise and conduct in showing what really happened around us.”

Bello’s predecessor, the late Jesus Blancornelas, a well-known Tijuana investigative journalist and general manager of Zeta, survived an assassination attempt while two Zeta journalists were later blasted to death.


Awarded the Chicago Journalist of the Year was John Conroy, who wrote “House of Screams” for Chicago Reader that alleged torture by Violent Crimes detectives.

Bill Moller of WGN Radio, who was also the master of ceremony, announced the winners for the Sarah Brown Boyden Awards. The awards were led by the “Best of the Best” for $1,000 prize that went to Gary Marx and David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune for the Investigative reporting of “Fugitive from Justice. The other awardees were Natasha Korecki, Lauren FitzPatrick and Abdon M. Pallasch of Chicago Sun-Times for “14 Years: Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich Is Sentenced” for Breaking News; Jason Grotto, Ray Long and Jodi Cohen of Chicago Tribune for “Pension Games,” for Series; Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne of Chicago Tribune for “Playing With Fire” for Public Service; Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times for “Roger Ebert’s Journal” for Blog;

Dave Hoekstra of Chicago Sun-Times for “Out of the Past Records” for Online Journalism; Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board for Tom McNamee, Kate N. Grossman and Tom Frisbie for A Selection of Editorials for Editorials; Rick Telander of Chicago Sun-Times for “Can Heaven Still Be Found on a Playground” for Sports; Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune for “Chicago Blues-Now” for Features; Art Golab and Kim Janssen of the Chicago Sun-Times for “Power Drain: Analysis Gives Ammunition To Areas That Say ComEd Gives Them Short Shrift” for Business; and John W. Fountain of the Chicago Sun-Times for A Selection of Commentaries for Commentary.

Karen Petitte, President of CJA Charitable Fund, presented a $1,000 scholarship award each to Kia Clair, a senior at the Chicago World Language Academy High School, and Sarah J. Pawlowski, a senior in journalism at Chicago’s Columbia College.

In 2010, Julia Mae P. Reblando, daughter of the late Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, became the first non-Chicagoan and non-American to receive the $1,000 scholarship CJA award. Her trip was arranged by this reporter as past president of the NPC Phil.-U.S.A at the time. She was accompanied to accept the award in her trip by her mother, Myrna P. Reblando, courtesy of Philippine Airlines. Bong Reblando, was one the 58 people, 32 of them journalists, slain in Maguindanao on Nov.  23, 2009, the single deadliest event for journalists in history, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Bong Reblando, a personal friend of this reporter, was a special guest at the induction of officers of the NPC Phil.-U.S.A. in 2001 in Chicago.
Aside from this reporter, the other Filipino American who attended the CJA awards night last Friday was Jun Delfin, a member of NPC Phil.-U.S.A. Both of them are CJA members. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)



Allen Rafalson (extreme left), president of the Chicago Journalists Association (CJA), joins the awardees during the 73rd CJA annual dinner Awards Night last Friday, Oct. 5, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Others in photo from left are Chicago Journalist of the Year Awardee John Conroy for his masterpiece, “House of Screams” that appeared in Chicago Reader; Kia Clair, a senior at Chicago World Language Academy High School, who was awarded $1,000 scholarship to pursue a journalism degree; and Adela Navarro Bello, general director of Zeta, an independent crusading weekly news magazine published in Tijuana, Mexico reporting on corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking, for the Daniel Pearl Award. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Veteran Bill Kurtis, co-anchor of the weekday CBS Channel 2 News, is surrounded by his well-wishers shortly after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Chicago Journalists Association (CJA) annual dinner Awards Night last Friday, Oct. 5, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Looking at left is reporter Joseph G. Lariosa and Jun Delfin, member of NPC Phil-U.S.A. Lariosa and Delfin are both CJA members. (jGLiPhoto)

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