A news executive whose colleagues dubbed him "the conscience of Gannett" is the ninth winner of the Ida B. Wells Award for achievement in hiring and advancing minorities in news media, according to Samuel Adams, curator of the award and associate professor of journalism at the Kansas University.
John C. Quinn, who for two decades was chief news executive at Gannett Co. Inc., the nation's largest news conglomerate, is credited with leading the news industry in developing minority managers and mainstreaming minorities as news sources and journalists.
Quinn will receive the award at the annual convention of the National Conference of Editorial Writers Sept. 24 in Salt Lake City. Quinn retired from Gannett in 1990 and now is deputy chairman of The Freedom Forum, formerly known as the Gannett Foundation. The Freedom Forum is the largest information-oriented charitable foundation in the United States.
THE NATIONAL Conference of Editorial Writers is one of three organizations that sponsor the Wells Award. The others are the National Broadcast Editorial Assn. and the National Association of Black Journalists. Presentation of the award rotates annually among convention sponsors.
Adams said the six-member award jury cited Quinn for leadership in hiring and promoting minorities and helping make USA Today and other Gannett newspapers leaders in multicultural journalism.
The jury found that Quinn:
"Launched mainstreaming of African Americans and other minorities and women in Gannett by initiating the company-wide All-America competition, which emphasized full and fair inclusion of minorities in the full range of news, not just stories about minorities.
"Led the news division at Gannett as it nearly doubled minority hiring in the division's top four job categories, from 8.5 percent in 1981 to 16.1 percent in 1990.
"Set the industry pace for developing minority managers and led the charge to make Gannett a 'World of Different Voices,' as African Americans and other minorities became publishers, editors, columnists, opinion page directors, regional presidents and corporate officers."
Quinn also is active on the minorities committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is founder of the Chips Quinn Memorial Scholarship Fund, named in honor of his late son. The fund assists historically black colleges in educating minority journalism students.
Angela Owens, president of the Wells Award jury and editorial director of WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., said the award consisted of two parts: journalism scholarships for minority students given in the name of the award winner and an original bust of Ida B. Wells, a pioneer black editor and crusader against lynching who died in 1932. The bust was made by Elden C. Tefft, noted sculptor and KU professor emeritus of art.