Austin Kiplinger — editor emeritus of one of the nation’s premier publishers of business forecasts and personal finance advice — had some advice of his own for about 60 journalists and their guests at the Feb. 4 celebration of the chapter’s 75th anniversary.
In the midst of “this turmoil, this revolution” in information technology today, he said, journalists just need to respond “by doing the job that we do and we’ve done it now for these many centuries. It consists of producing the content and that is going to be essential regardless of how it’s delivered.”
He acknowledged the challenges facing the profession, such as “how we cope with the variety of sources, the variety of people who sometimes call themselves journalists.”
“I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to shake it out,” he said. “The more important thing is how the public, whether we call them readers, viewers or listeners,” figures out “some kind of common-sense way of separating the wheat from the chaff and believe it or not, people eventually do.”
Kiplinger, 92, marked his own milestone in SPJ — he joined 75 years ago while he was a student at Cornell University.
He hosted the chapter’s anniversary celebration in the main-floor museum at the Kiplinger headquarters on H Street NW. The museum exhibits a broad collection of Washingtonia and journalism artifacts.
The evening included a welcome from SPJ national President Hagit Limor, an investigative reporter with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, who introduced Kiplinger.
Emceed by Ben Shlesinger, the chapter’s recording secretary, the evening included the presentation of 50-year SPJ pins to D.C. Pro members Paul Sisco, Paul Lockwood and Jim McKenna.
“We don’t necessarily control the attitudes and opinions of the people who read us or listen to us,” Kiplinger said, noting that when Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for re-election “about 90 percent of newspapers were opposed” to him and lambasted his New Deal. But he “was re-elected by the largest majority in the history of the United States.”
Kiplinger opened his comments by saying it was a happy accident his 75th anniversary in SPJ coincided with the chapter’s celebration. He quoted an old colleague in joking about his many years in the profession — Dick Strout, who received the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award in 1975.
“After he received it,” Kiplinger said, “he was asked if he had any advice for us younger fellows, and he said, ‘Yes, just hang in there and sooner or later somebody will mistake longevity for merit.’”
Kiplinger told the crowd: “Congratulations on your picking the best profession in the world.”