By Sue Pascoe
The California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) held its annual Press Summit in Santa Monica May 18-20, with guest speakers that included Leon Panetta, who served as CIA Director and Defense Secretary in the Obama Administration. Visit cnpa.com for more information.
Additionally, the CNPA handed out awards to top newspapers and journalists who competed in the annual Better Newspapers Contest. The Palisades News entered for the first time, and staff writer Laurel Busby and columnist Robert Vickrey were among those winning high honors.
The News was the only Westside weekly or bi-weekly to win first place and runner-up awards in the statewide contest.
Busby took first for her April 20, 2016 profile feature story, “Williams Solos to Hawaii—and Back.” She recounted how Christian Williams sailed 48 days alone on his 32-foot boat, the Thelonius.
Busby wrote, “In addition, he bought books to read and found himself drawn to ancient writers like Plutarch and Heroditus, who seem out of place in our modern world . . . But when ‘you’re alone, these people fit right in; the lives of the ancient heroes don’t seem so remote anymore.’”
One CNPA judge wrote: “Terrific subject—Williams is a great interview—and the piece kept me engaged all the way through.”
Busby’s second entry, “Germans Unite a Pacific Palisades Neighborhood,” received second in the best writing category and a judge noted: “Interesting, heartwarming story on many levels. Very good read.”
The December 13, 2016, article told the tale of a visiting German family that ran into misfortunes on a trip to California. Palisadian Tim Meade offered them aid and then ultimately a place to stay. Neighbors in the Highlands learned of the family’s plight and decided they wanted to help, too. Meade said in the story, “There is terrible stuff going on in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a teeny-tiny difference.
Taking second place in the columns category was Robert Vickrey. One judge commented: “Well-written, nice story telling. Good, illustrative writing. I enjoyed these columns.” The News had submitted two of Vickrey’s columns, “The Art of Re-Gifting: Curse of the Historians” and “Wanted: Dorm Room with a View.”
The regifting column, (March 16, 2016), is a laugh-out-loud tale of a present Vickrey received—a “complete 11-volume set of Will and Ariel Durant’s landmark series, The Story of Civilization—all 38-1/2 pounds worth.” When he and his wife divorced they argued over who would be forced to keep the books. Vickrey lost.
In the second column (October 22, 2016), Vickrey compares his niece’s experience with a beautiful dorm room at Pepperdine overlooking the Pacific Ocean to his college experience of residential living while attending Baylor. In the winter, he discovered “there were some significant gaps between the outside wooden wall panels, as I awoke during my first night there to find my hair blowing freely in the icy breeze . . . The following morning, I stuffed newspaper into the cavities of the aging wall and hung a very tasteful poster of Ali McGraw.”
Busby, who grew up in Atlanta, received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas in 1987, and then earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado. While in Colorado, she interned at the Fort Collins Coloradoan and then the Denver Post.
When she moved to Los Angeles, she initially worked as a story editor for Silver Lions Films. Subsequently she worked for the Palisadian-Post from 2000-03, before working as a researcher for a Court TV show, Dr. Henry Lee Presents.
In 2004, Busby co-produced a feature-length documentary, “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.” Her son was born that same year, and she worked freelance before she started writing for the Palisades News.
After graduating from Baylor, Vickrey had planned to be either a newspaper reporter or a columnist. Instead, he went to work for Houghton Mifflin, where he spent the next 40 years as a book representative.
His job was to select bookstores that would host events for the authors he accompanied on promotional tours. His job put him in contact with artists, politicians and even President Jimmy Carter.
In retirement, Vickrey returned to writing as a second career, and the News became one of his venues when it debuted in November 2014. His columns and feature stories appear in the Houston Chronicle, the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Boryana Books website.
See Vickrey’s latest column on page 26. His other columns can be found at palisadesnews.com.