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Edwin Eisendrath named ‘Illinoisan of the Year’ by state broadcast journalists

Edwin Eisendrath

Edwin Eisendrath | Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois News Broadcasters Association has recognized Chicago Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath for his work to advance journalism and First Amendment rights in the state.

Eisendrath received INBA’s “Illinoisan of the Year” award at the group’s fall meeting. He joins a distinguished list of men and women honored each year by INBA, the state’s leading organization supporting broadcast newsrooms serving Illinois.

The annual award dates back to 1959. Past recipients include Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former Govs. Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson, Judge Abner Mikva (awarded posthumously), former Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland and Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

In nominating Eisendrath, former INBA president Marc Magliari praised Eisendrath for his efforts to ensure the long-term viability of the Chicago Sun-Times. Eisendrath led the successful move to acquire the Sun-Times in July 2017.

“Assembling a group of investors to buy the smaller and scrappier of Chicago’s daily general circulation newspapers is hard, but leading the Sun-Times to success will probably be harder. Edwin Eisendrath is the CEO of the newspaper now calling itself ‘The Hardest-Working Paper in America,’ and he has vowed his labor union-backed group will not interfere with the news or editorial pages,” notes Magliari, media relations manager for Amtrak.

He adds, “[Eisendrath] admits he might not succeed in keeping Chicago a two-newspaper town. But for trying, he deserves to be an INBA Illinoisan of the Year. Let’s be a journalism group that recognizes him for his work in support of competitive daily news and sports reporting before it is too late.”

Josh Morgan INBA with plaque

INBA president Josh Morgan with plaque at Sunday’s awards presentation at the Wyndham Springfield City Centre. | Lee Milner/Provided

In receiving the award, Eisendrath noted, “I am amazed every day by the commitment of the Sun-Times’ journalists to get the story, the true story, the context of the story, and to do it every day. The selection really acknowledges how important their work is, and on their behalf, I accept it.”

Statement from Edwin Eisendrath:

Journalists have such an important role to play in our democracy. News organizations may be right or left of center, but they all have a unique responsibility to the truth. Most do this work with diligence and care. Yet all of us now face two types of existential threats.

The first is economic. As the margins in our business have fallen, the industry has been helpless against investors who consolidate, cut, sell assets and charge management fees. These are behaviors that make the American economy the world’s most dynamic. Journalism, however, has a different role in a democracy than does an outdated carriage factory. The damage has been particularly devastating to newspapers, and the Sun-Times was no exception.

The second threat is even more pernicious. In an era when everyone can publish with the click of a mouse, there are a lot of pretenders to the practice. These frauds have done our industry and our democracy great damage. We simply must distinguish ourselves from them and earn back the trust of our fellow citizens.

Whether in journalism or in life, people need to know who you are if they are going to trust. At the Sun-Times, we are very clear about that. This short video describes our mission:

I am very grateful to you for the honor of this award and mindful of the difficult task we all face together, determined to work as hard as I can to build a strong foundation for journalism’s – and our democracy’s future.

Founded in 1955 by news professionals from across the state, INBA plays an active role in educating, defending and promoting fellowship among those in media, as well as promoting excellence. Each fall, the INBA recognizes an Illinoisan who has made “a significant contribution to Illinois, its citizens, the news profession and public information.” Each year’s recipient is chosen by past presidents of the organization.