Was a gathering of newsgatherers last night at Holiday Inn atop Sun-Times on the river — 15th floor, vu is stunning. Chi Headline Club gave out lifetime achievement honors. It was a combination of -atti's, liter- and glitter- (we all dressed nice) and newshounds past, present and to come. The young were adequately represented.
These were clubbable news people honoring their own, as people do. It was a high-church affair but not solemn high. It helps when the honorees are people who talk straight and seem to say what they mean. No cutesy needed apply.
* WGN radio farm-matters announcer for 47 (!) years Orion Samuelson announced himself "a Norwegian, so only halfway there" at 72.
* News writer and editor with three Chi dailies from the '50s, retired since '88, Ed Baumann [correction here:] said it had been his good fortune to spend half his life in the "second oldest profession in the world," adding, "Think what heights I might have attained if my parents had had a girl,” here earlier misinterpreted as a crack at gender-based affirmative action.
* Fotog Jim Frost of Sun-Times and TV newshen cum Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin looked appreciatively to their families there present.
* Chi Trib Sci writer and Pulitzer prize winner Ron Kotulak I am sure said something while I went to the men's room, where a nice young man said hi to me, which is more than I get at the men's room at Schaller's on Halsted. And more than I require.
Clarence Page of Chi Trib and syndicated-column and TV talk show fame lately and Trib plus Chi's Channel Two fame back in "jurassic" times, as he put it, set the tone or picked the key -- better flat than sharp on such an occasion -- for the event. He held up the literate part very well, moving things along briskly:
-- Big affirmative action newsroom-hiring vehicle of the 60s was the urban riot: “Monochromatic" LA times drafted a messenger to go into the zone and see what the brothers were doing, got a byline promoting him to ad salesman. The entrepreneurial Louis Lomax pitched a black-Muslim story to Dan Rather and got the assignment himself as free-lancer because (alas) Elijah Muhammad would not talk to a white reporter. (Not sure I'd talk to Dan Rather either, but that's another question.)
-- "We used to be colored," said Page, riffing on the Great American Name Game. Then Negro, then black -- "I mean black," he said, looking grr-threatening for a second. Then African-American --he called up his mother when this happened, delighted he was finally up there with other hyphenated people, Irish- and Italian– and the like. Finally “people of color.” "Full circle," he exulted.
It just shows to go you: tone conquers all, and humor and common sense. There's a lesson for us there.