This service is held in February in conjunction with the Episcopal Church’s annual commemoration of Frederick Douglass (1811-1895) – abolitionist, orator, and editor of the pro-abolition journal The North Star. Douglas was a prophetic witness to the sinfulness of slavery and spoke this truth to a nation in need of repentance and reform. In a speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society, May 11, 1847, Douglas spoke of the need for unrelenting assault on the institution of slavery. “The conscience of the American public needs this irritation. And I would blister it all over, from center to circumference, until it gives signs of a purer and a better life than it is now manifesting to the world.” As an enduring symbol of the power journalists possess to move the heart of the nation toward the common good, the award recipient will be given a framed page from the paper founded by Douglass. Last year’s recipient was Carrie Saldo, host of WGBY’s Connecting Point.
2020 Bishop’s Award Recipient
The Bishop’s Award is given to a local journalist who demonstrates excellence in bringing local and national concerns to the people of Western Massachusetts. This year’s recipient is Mr. Wayne E. Phaneuf, Executive Editor of The Republican, who recently retired after fifty years of service to this community. His career at the paper began in 1969. Over the past fifty years, Mr. Phaneuf’s work has had a demonstrable impact on the life of our community. During his tenure the paper emerged strong in the print-to-digital transformation. In 2018 Phaneuf received the Yankee Quill Award, the highest award given to journalists in New England. “Wayne Phaneuf has devoted a lifetime to providing Springfield readers with fair and objective news, without fear or favor,” said George Arwady, publisher and CEO of The Republican. In a quote given to reporter Ray Kelly, Phaneuf’s commitment to the profession and to our common humanity is revealed. “At a time when journalism is under siege, I’d like to leave the talk of ‘fake news’ and concentrate on the history this paper has made in the past half century. My gig as a cartoonist lasted only a month or so when I was given a full-time job as a reporter. This was the time of Vietnam and Richard Nixon, the peace movement, race riots, school desegregation (we called it busing), the environmental movement and presidential impeachment,” Phaneuf recalled. “I remember on a frigid winter night standing out on the tarmac at Westover when the first POWs from Vietnam were reunited with their families. Journalists can cry too.”
Speakers include Bishop Doug Fisher and Jesse Lederman, At-Large Springfield City Councilor.
The First Amendment to the Constitution will be read in addition to readings from Scripture. Prayers will be offered for journalists locally and around the world. The service is open to all who support the work of the free press and value this fundamental element of our democracy. The idea for the service came from Bishop Doug Fisher. “Now, more than ever,” Fisher said, “we must support those who chronicle our times with integrity. Freedom of speech is the law of the land, and journalists of every medium exercise that right for the common good.”