4 Alumni Given Journalism's Highest Honors

Photograph: Soma Golden Behr.
Photograph: John J. Curley.
Photograph: Alan Emory.
Photograph: Paul Friedman.

Four of the nation's journalism leaders, all graduates of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, will receive the school's highest alumni honor in ceremonies at the University May 5.

Elected by their fellow alumni to receive the 1995 Columbia Journalism Alumni Association Awards are:

The annual awards recognizing distinguished service to journalism will be presented at the association's spring meeting, which begins at 6:00 P.M. in the Faculty Room of Low Library.

Introducing Behr will be Joseph Lelyveld, Class of '60, executive editor of The New York Times. Curley, a trustee emeritus of Columbia, will be introduced by University President Emeritus Michael I. Sovern. John B. Johnson Jr., Class of '68, managing editor of The Watertown Daily Times, will introduce Emory, and Richard C. Wald, senior vice president of ABC News and a Columbia College graduate, will introduce Friedman. The association president, Edward Silberfarb, Class of '52, will present the awards.

Soma Golden Behr, who began in journalism as a business and economics reporter, was named an assistant managing editor at The New York Times in 1993, after having served as national news editor since 1987.

Called by colleagues "a powerful intellectual force at The Times" and "one of the most creative editors" in the profession, she is credited by former Times executive editor Max Frankel with moving the newspaper's national news coverage "far beyond the normal preoccupations" to add on a daily basis "the human dramas of American life, focusing on the lives of workers and changes in the workplace instead of merely unions; on the lives of women instead of merely on the legal battles for equality; on the thoughts and experiences of ghetto youngsters instead of merely their failures and jail and school records."

Behr joined The Times in 1973, was editor of the Sunday business section from 1982 to 1987 and served as a member of the editorial board specializing in economic affairs from 1977 to 1982. Earlier she worked for 11 years at Business Week, where she became the magazine's chief economics writer in Washington. She interrupted her career at the magazine to accept a professional fellowship at Stanford and served briefly as assistant to the president of the National Bureau of Economic Research. A native of Washington, D.C., she received the B.A. in economics, with honors, from Radcliffe. She was on the staff of the Harvard Crimson while at Radcliffe. She taught a business writing course as an adjunct professor at Columbia. With Stephen B. Shepard, now editor in chief of Business Week, she developed a mid-career program at the School now known as the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program in Business and Economics Journalism and served as its second director.

John J. Curley, president and CEO of Gannett Co., has been with Gannett since 1969, serving first as an editor in Rochester, N.Y., on the Times-Union and in Bridgewater, N.J., as editor and later publisher of The Courier-News. He became chief of Gannett's Washington bureau in 1974, general manager of Gannett News Service in 1975 and vice president for news in 1979. It was under his leadership that the news service won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1980.

He has been publisher of the News-Journal Newspapers in Wilmington, Del., and was the first editor of USA Today, which began publishing in 1982.

He became president of Gannett's newspaper division in 1983. He was named president and chief operating officer of Gannett Co. in 1984. He became CEO in May 1986 and chairman in April 1989, continuing as president and CEO. He has been a member of the board of directors since 1983. His stewardship of Gannett has brought the company to new heights of respect and financial success, but he is best known to many in the profession as a "reporters' editor" who nurtured young journalists and encouraged community investigative and explanatory reporting.

Before joining Gannett, Curley worked on newspapers in Easton, Pa., where he grew up, Asbury Park and Woodbridge in New Jersey, and for the Associated Press in New York and New Jersey. He graduated from Dickinson College, where he is now a trustee. He was a trustee of Columbia for six years and headed the current $1.15 billion fund-raising drive, the New Campaign for Columbia.

Alan Emory is widely recognized as the dean of the New York press corps in Washington, where he has reported for the Watertown Daily Times for 43 years.

He joined the Daily Times upon his graduation from Columbia in 1947 and covered Albany and Northern New York state for four years before being assigned to Washington. One of a vanishing breed, a correspondent writing for a small regional newspaper, he has set the standard for regional reporting from the nation's capital.

In frequent reports--often as many as six a day--and twice-weekly columns, Emory has been the first to break numerous stories, such as Richard Nixon's plan to invade the privacy of individual income tax returns, the financial chicanery of a northern New York bank that led to its closing, and deliberations resulting in the closure of three New York military bases.

An acknowledged expert on New York politics and issues, he has chronicled the rivalry between New York's senators and covered all national political conventions, presidential campaigns and New York U.S. Senate races for the paper since 1952.

Emory has been president of the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a member of its Hall of Fame and is former vice chairman of the national society's Freedom of Information Committee. He is treasurer of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington. He has been a member of the National Press Club since coming to Washington. He was a member of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, elected by Congressional correspondents at large to supervise the Capitol press galleries and maintain high ethical standards there. He has written for the celebrated satirical revues of the Gridiron Club--an event attended by the President and First Lady--for 20 years and this year is president of that prestigious organization of Washington journalists. He is a Harvard graduate and co-holder of the Thomas Stokes prize for conservation reporting.

Paul Friedman, executive vice president of ABC News since January 1993, has responsibility for all operating units within the news division.

He was executive producer of "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" for five years, from 1988, when the broadcast rose to become the highest-rated evening news show, a distinction it continues to hold. He created the award-winning "American Agenda" news feature which examines critical domestic issues of the day for "World News Tonight" and later added "Your Money--Your Choice," a weekly segment analyzing spending by the federal government. He won highly favorable reviews for ABC's coverage of the 1992 Presidential campaign.

He joined ABC News in 1982 as senior producer in London and in 1984 was named director of news coverage for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, overseeing the operation of all ABC News bureaus in those areas.

Before joining ABC, Friedman spent 14 years at NBC News, which he joined in 1967 upon his graduation from Columbia. He covered both national political conventions in 1968 for NBC Radio Network and became a reporter for NBC's network-owned station in Washington, D.C., WRC-TV. He became a field producer for "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" in 1970 and in 1972 was named senior producer for "NBC Weekend Nightly News." Two years later he was named executive producer of "News 4 New York" at WNBC-TV and in 1975 was named senior producer of "NBC Nightly News." He was also executive producer of "Today" and of various NBC News magazines.

Friedman is a graduate of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Columbia University Record -- May 5, 1995 -- Vol. 20, No. 27