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University of Wisconsin–Madison
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Dan Flannery wins Ethics Award

Dan Flannery

Dan Flannery, the Post-Crescent

THE WISCONSIN COMMITMENT TO JOURNALISM ETHICS AWARD

Veteran journalist Dan Flannery wins UW-Madison’s Journalism Ethics Award

The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison honored newsman Dan Flannery, executive editor of the Post Crescent in Appleton, Wis., with the Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award on Friday, April 15.

Flannery, a veteran of the newspaper industry, is recognized for his lifelong practice of applying the highest ethical standards to his work. As executive editor, Flannery is responsible for the day-to-day editorial operation of the newspaper and its website. Despite the immediate challenges pressing the newspaper industry, Flannery has remained true to the spirit of community journalism, tackling tough issues and engaging citizens and community leaders alike to work towards positive change.

A committee of working and retired journalists considered Flannery’s long tenure at Gannett, his leadership at the helm of the Post Crescent and his work in the field of civic journalism.

“Dan exemplifies what’s best about journalism and the good work that can be done. He understands the impact it can have but also understands that its integrity is essential,” says Tom Bier, vice president and station manager of WISC-TV Madison, Wis. “He not only lives up to the integrity standards himself but has also worked to make sure that his readers know that ethical discussions happen regularly and often in newsrooms across the state and the country,”

In 2010 Bier received the first Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics award.

A true community journalist, Flannery believes in his efforts to stay engaged in the larger community.

“Telling people what is going on isn’t always the most comfortable thing, but it is a responsibility inherent to the field of journalism,” he says. “It is important to tell these kinds of stories, as difficult as they may be.”

Flannery started at the Post Crescent as a sports editor in 1985. Flannery has spent the majority of his career at the Post Crescent, a Gannett newspaper in Appleton, and has moved steadily up the ranks in the newsroom. He was named executive editor of newspaper in June 2007. His previous journalism experience included tenure as a sports copy editor at the Southern Illinoisan newspaper (Carbondale, Ill.) and as a sports reporter at the Green Bay News-Chronicle.

“When I was looking to name an executive editor in Appleton, I had three requirements: A passion for news, a passion for developing the news team and a passion for the community,” said Genia Lovett, president and publisher of the Post Crescent. “All of those shine brightly in the body of work Dan has amassed during his 25 years at the Post-Crescent. He truly believes in the important role we play in our society, and leads an award-winning news operation because of that belief.”

Flannery was the committee’s unanimous choice.

A native of Laona, Wis., Flannery is a graduate of the UW-Green Bay in communication processes. He is married to Mary Flannery. They live in Appleton and have two daughters and two grandsons.

Judges included Herman Baumann, principal, Green Line Strategies, of Palatine, Ill.; Ellen Foley, executive director of communications and community development at Madison Area Technical College; Judy Frankel, coordinator of the Madison Writer’s Network; Jack Mitchell, professor emeritus of journalism at UW-Madison; Peter Fox, senior adviser to the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and John Smalley, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. Bier was also on the panel.

Foley was the committee’s chair. Foley worked in the news journalism business for more than 30 years and served as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal from 2004 to 2008. She has also worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, the Kansas City Star, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Detroit News. She earned a master’s in journalism and a bachelor of arts in political science, both from UW-Madison.

“The Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award seeks those who have acted with integrity without compromising or ignoring ethical principles,” says Stephen J. A. Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and Burgess Professor of Journalism Ethics. “When faced with a tough judgment call, an ethical dilemma, or pressure to ignore ethical values, the honorees have made firm decisions with clarity and according to ethical principles.”

Read the text of Dan Flannery’s acceptance speech here.

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The Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award

The award

The Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award honors journalists who, individually or as a team, have acted with integrity without compromising or ignoring ethical principles. When faced with a tough judgment call, an ethical dilemma, or pressure to ignore ethical values, they have made firm decisions with clarity and according to ethical principles.

The award also considers journalists who have displayed an inspiring, on-going commitment to journalism in the public interest.

Who presents the award?

The award is an initiative of the Center for Journalism Ethics in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The center directs the award process, selects the judges, and presents the award at its annual journalism ethics conference.

Why an ethics award?

The award recognizes and supports great journalism at a time when economic, social and technological forces threaten to undermine quality journalism and diminish the ability of journalists to practice their craft ethically. The award and the ethics center act as a counter-balancing force for ethical, democratic journalism.

How are winners chosen?

Since the award is new, the process for selecting candidates is evolving. For the first award, presented on April 30 to journalist Tom Bier, a committee of working and retired journalists considered candidates from two sources.

The first source was submissions sent to the award feature on the ethics web site.

The second source was candidates identified through inquiries by committee members. The members reviewed the past year of journalism and contacted editors to encourage nominations and identify candidates.

After nominations were collected, the committee evaluated the candidates according to award criteria.

In the years ahead, the plan is to expand the submission process to include submissions from both journalists and the public. The center hopes to develop the award into a national ethics award.

Who were the judges for the first award (2010)?

The committee was led by Ellen Foley, former editor of the Wisconsin State Journaland now executive assistant and director of development at Madison Area Technical College.

The other committee members were:

  • Herman Baumann, principal, Green Line Strategies, of Palatine, Ill.
  • Judy Frankel, project manager at Putnam Roby Williamson Communications in Madison
  • Jack Mitchell, professor emeritus of journalism at UW
  • John Smalley, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison

 

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