The St. Louis Jewish Light was honored with two Simon Rockower Awards during last month’s annual American Jewish Press Association convention in Washington, D.C.
The Light won first place in “Excellence in Special Sections or Supplements” for “Building Bridges,” a publication documenting interfaith and interracial efforts in the area. The paper also picked up a second-place “Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in Comprehensive Coverage or Investigative Reporting.” That award was for October’s front-page special report by Kit Wagar on the complex relationship between Jews and Christian Zionists.
The Light competed in the category for newspapers with a circulation of less than 15,000.
Light Board of Trustees President Milton Movitz said the awards are a clear sign that the paper is setting a high standard for its coverage.
“I think these honors are a recognition of the great work the Light is doing to fulfull its vital journalistic mission,” said Movitz. “It shows that we are meeting our goal of not just informing but also connecting our readers to Jewish life and the larger community.”
The article documenting local reaction to Christian Zionist support for Israel garnered praise. Robert A. Cohn, editor-in-chief emeritus of the Light, himself a past recipient of seven Rockower Awards, attended the AJPA convention in the nation’s capital and said that he felt Wagar’s piece had done a fine job of representing an intricate and at times controversial issue with great clarity and fairness.
“The historical ties of the relationship Christian supporters have with Israel run very deep,” he said. “The article really shows that such complex topics can be covered with both depth and sensitivity. I congratulate Kit Wagar on this very well-deserved honor. I would also like to congratulate Andrew Polin who was the driving force behind the Building Bridges project.”
Interviewed from Oregon, Polin, former CEO of the Light, said he was thrilled to hear of the honors and said he was proud to have been a part of a the paper when those projects were underway.
“Building Bridges was a difficult project but one that was well-worth the effort,” he said. “The credit should go to [JCRC executive director] Batya Abramson-Goldstein who was really responsible for the original idea, assistant editor Mike Sherwin who spearheaded the publication and all the writers and photographers who contributed to it.”
Abramson-Goldstein said the publication was an important one.
“It seemed to me that there was an important story that needed to be told, the story of all these important efforts toward building bridges between communities,” she said.
Sherwin also noted the hard work that had made the publication such a success.
“It was a challenging project but we had a clear vision of what we wanted to do,” Sherwin said. “We tried to create somthing that was original and looked at an issue in depth and I think we accomplished that.”
“I think its hard to ever cover a topic because there is always going to be more stories than there is room to print. That’s just the way the newspaper business works,” he said. “But I think we did a good job of trying to get a variety of voices in the community represented and present a good picture of cooperation between races and religions in St. Louis.”