Shortly before this issue went to print, I had the honor of attending the 57th Annual Jesse H. Neal Awards. The Neal awards are known as the Pulitzer Prize of business journalism, and to be nominated for such an award is a great honor. National Underwriter Life & Health‘s series of stories on the NAIC, which ran last November, were not only nominated for an award, but we were a finalist for the award of Best Series of Related Articles.
For several days leading up to the awards, I had a little acceptance speech going through my head. As it turned out, however, award recipients don’t give speeches for their awards; you just go up to the podium, receive your plaque and pose for a photo op. Sadly, I did not even get that opportunity, as our stories did not win a Neal. That honor went to Better Roads magazine, for their series on the state of bridges in this country. My hat goes off to Better Roads for a job very well done, indeed.
It was along train ride home after the Neals, I don’t mind telling you. I desperately wanted that award, not so much for myself, but for my staff and for National Underwriter in general. This book has a fine legacy behind it. A Neal award would add to that. But it’s okay. We’ll get ‘em next year.
Had we won a Neal, though, and had I been given an opportunity to address my peers, my speech would have gone something like this, for it is directed as much at you, the reader, as it is to anybody else.
On my first day on the job here, I was speaking with Summit Business Media’s CEO, Andy Goodenough, and I used the term “trade publication.” Andy stopped me. “I don’t like that term,” he told me. “It makes us sound less important than we are.”
I don’t remember what I was saying at the moment, or what I said afterwards. But I do remember Andy’s comment. It is something I have thought about often, and I have to say, Andy was right. So often, people use the term “trade publication” or “trade press” as a way of suggesting that business journalism is somehow secondary or derivative of something. That the stories we write are not worth as much as the stories written by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the Economist. And in that, I suppose they are right. They are not as important. They are more important.
For it is in dedicated business publications that we often see the start of important trends, where we find the stories behind the stories reported in the mainstream, and where we can bring to light the great business practices and the deplorable misdeeds that have such a profound impact on all of the rest of us. So much of the news today is compiled from elsewhere and repackaged. What we get to do is find the news and report it ourselves. And that is a job worth having.
I am extremely proud of the nearly award-winning work we did. But I am more proud to work for you fine readers, and to try every day to live up to your expectations of National Underwriter. You never give us a free ride, and you always call us out on things you think we could improve upon, and I appreciate that so very much. It is an honor to serve this audience, and a pleasure with each blog post, each daily news story, each printed issue. Thanks for having me.