Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment



December 21, 2012—MINNEAPOLIS. The Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Awards Program has been suspended after consultation with the Premack Board and the Minnesota Journalism Center Advisory Board. Submissions will not be accepted for reporting done in 2012.

For 35 years, the Premack Public Affairs Journalism Awards honored excellence in Minnesota journalism. The awards program is funded by the Minnesota Journalism Center and the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication.

The Minnesota Journalism Center is working to create reinvigorated programming that better suits the needs of public affairs journalists.

“We wanted to do something in Frank’s memory that better reflects the important role of public affairs journalism in the state,” said Nora Paul, director of the Minnesota Journalism Center. “We’re looking into ideas for workshops or trainings or research that supports new models for public affairs reporting. After 35 years, the board agreed that it was time to change the programming to reflect changing times.”

Future plans that support public affairs journalism will be announced in summer 2013.



Who is Frank Premack?

It took Frank Premack a while to discover newspapering. He emigrated from his South Dakota boyhood home as an early adolescent, bright, curious and cantankerous. First stop was the University of Chicago, where, by his own admission, he majored in poker and left under a cloud. Next stop was the University of Minnesota, where his studies in architecture left him unsatisfied.

Finally, he managed to land a job as a copy editor on the Minneapolis Tribune in January 1958. Almost immediately, he began lobbying for assignment as a reporter. Persistence was rewarded, and in February 1960 he was transferred, having worn down those who objected that he had no experience. Premack knew he had found his life’s calling. He quickly became known for his aggressive pursuit of the news. Dishonesty, sham and pretense were his targets wherever his reporting led him. Curious and cantankerous as always, he demanded to know why things were as they were. Fascinated by politics and government, he excelled at such reporting, earning the respect of those he covered, the reading public and his colleagues.

Later, as city editor and assistant managing editor of the Tribune, Premack carried the same high ideals into the editing process. His motivational techniques often were direct and memorable, as when, on a dull Friday afternoon, he might climb onto his desk, crack a bull whip over the heads of a staff dreaming about the weekend ahead, declare there was no news to be found while sitting at their desks and order them into the streets to find it. On April 7, 1975, while a member of the Tribune’s Special Reporting Group, Frank Premack died of a heart attack. He was 42.

What is Public Affairs Journalism?

“Public Affairs journalism encompasses all forms of journalism that feature civic issues, human interest and non-sensationalist, investigative reporting. This can include coverage of state and local government, education, transportation, social services, public health and natural resources.” – Minnesota Journalism Center

The Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award competition is one of the state’s most coveted and celebrated journalism honors. Started after the death in 1975 of Frank Premack, a reporter and editor at the Minneapolis Tribune, the competition seeks entries from Minnesota news operations doing public affairs journalism in their community or region.

The Premack Awards recognize excellence in public affairs reporting and honor Minnesota journalists covering Minnesota people and institutions, as judged by Minnesotans.