Cleveland’s Plain Dealer Editor Named 2012 McGruder Award For Media Diversity Winner
Debra Adams Simmons, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, has been named the 2012 winner of the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity from Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The award recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity in the field of journalism.
Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication will honor Adams Simmons at an awards luncheon and lecture on Monday, March 26, on the Kent Campus.
Adams Simmons was named editor of The Plain Dealer in October 2010, after serving as managing editor from 2007 to 2010. Previously, she was vice president and editor of the Akron Beacon Journal. Adams Simmons hails from Hartford, Conn., and is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree. She also graduated from the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University’s Media Management Center in the Graduate School of Management.
Adams Simmons serves on the board of directors of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Managing Editors and the ATHENA International board, where she is vice chair. She is a recipient of two Cleveland area awards – the ATHENA Award and Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under 40 leading executives in Northeast Ohio. Adams Simmons was a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, 2005 and 2011. She is an active member of the community as board chair of this region’s Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop and vice chair of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.
The late Robert G. McGruder was a 1963 graduate of Kent State and a foundational local figure for diversity in journalism.
He became the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer. McGruder marked several other firsts in his career, becoming the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the first black editor of the Detroit Free Press in 1995 and 1996.
McGruder was a strong proponent for diversity in and out of the newsroom: “Please know that I stand for diversity,” he once said. “I represent the African-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, women and all others we must see represented in our business offices, newsrooms and newspapers.”
Previous recipients of the Robert G. McGruder Award include: Caesar Andrews, an ethics and diversity faculty member at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University; Richard Prince, columnist, Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, Maynard Institute of Journalism Education; 2008 – Dr. Jannette Dates, dean, John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University; 2007 – Michelle Singletary, columnist, The Washington Post; 2006 – Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Miami Herald; 2005 – Albert E. Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president, Akron Beacon Journal; 2004 – David Lawrence Jr., former publisher, Miami Herald; and 2003 – Gregory Moore, editor, Denver Post.
For more information about the Robert G. McGruder Award or event, contact Eugene Shelton, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at eshelto1 [at] kent.edu. To R.S.V.P. for the event contact Darlene Contrucci at 330-672-2623.