Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Honoring Our Writers at the FRONT

Award-winners David Perry, Alison Weaver and Kathy Surace^

Kathy Surace (editor's award) and Jill Elswick (December's Contributor of the Issue)^

Publisher Tom Field, writer Jill Elswick, moi^

That's me again (in my Cash McCall disguise*) telling our writers how great they are ... and meaning every word of it^

We held our Writers Awards Luncheon today and, I swear, it remains my favorite event after all these years. It is one of the very few elements of life in the publishing business we carried over from the Blue Ridge Business Journal when Tom Field and I started Valley Business FRONT (and brought almost all of our freelancers with is) 18 months ago.

This is an event where we can recognize effort, talent, commitment, loyalty and, sometimes, eyebrow-raising accomplishment. Our writers come in all forms, from the much-honored veteran journalist to the novice, but all of them have one thing in common: they deeply care about what they do when they sit down to write. It shows and it makes my job as editor a sheer pleasure. I love going to work (and staying at work until 11 p.m. most nights).

Today's award winners--David Perry, Most Outstanding Contributor; Alison Weaver, Best Story; and Kathy Surace and Rachael Garrity as the Editor's Award winners--are perfect examples of what I'm talking about. David and Kathy are newcomers who had always wanted to write, but had not been given the opportunity. They dug in quickly and have been learning sponges for us.

Kathy's Business Dress column has a big, loyal following and David's feature stories are a highlight of every issue. He has become something of a default setting for profile assignments.

Alison was my assistant editor at the Business Journal some years ago, but went with the local daily paper as a copy editor for a few years. The daily never recognized what it had in its own newsroom (as is often the case): Alison is a fine writer and a marvelous digger. Her cover story in next month's magazine (January) will knock your shoes off. We're already discussing book potential for it.

Rachael is a veteran writer who never lost her enthusiasm--which often leads to a loss of skill. Her writing is simply superb and Rachael has a way with people that is enviable.

But there were a room full of stories like theirs today and I'd love for you to know all of them. They're marvelous people and I feel fortunate not only to have them helping us put out a top-notch magazine, but just to know them.

(*If you have to ask who Cash McCall is, you couldn't handle the answer.)


  1. I was honored to be in the room with so much writing talent. Thanks, Dan and Tom, for hosting this event. Dan, I admire your habit of turning non-writers into writers. I was also impressed by the journalistic backgrounds of so many of the FRONT's writers. You've built up a great team of talent for Valley Business FRONT.

  2. Dan,

    I've said it before and I'll continue to say just do things the right way. This is just another example. Thanks for continuing to be an example for guys like Dan Vance and I, who would be lucky to blaze 1/100th of the trail you have.


  3. As my wife says when I do something or say something nice, "OK, what have you done wrong?" Chris and Jill: I ask the question ...

  4. There isn't enough space in all of the world wide web for everything I've done wrong...

    doesn't mean I didn't mean what I said!

  5. Thanks so much for the recognition, Dan. It is indeed humbling. And by the way, no one else in Roanoke can slip "dad gum" into conversation and not make it sound phony.