News Leadership 2008

ASNE recognizes Randell Beck with editorial leadership award

Posted 2/21/2008 4:27:00 PM

Feb. 21, 2007

RESTON, Va. — The American Society of Newspaper Editors will honor Randell S. Beck, executive editor of the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., as the recipient of the ASNE Award for Editorial Leadership. The award, the Society's most prestigious honor, will be presented at ASNE's annual convention in Washington, April 13-16.

"Randell's work over time has exemplified how editors establish leadership in two critical areas for ASNE: diversity and freedom of the press. Our association also is very happy to bestow a coveted award on an editor from a smaller market in numerical circulation, yet whose institution provides vital impact in its area of influence," said ASNE president Gilbert Bailon.

For years, Beck has been fighting an open battle with South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds for access to state records that has occasionally reflected unfavorably on the governor. Among many such battles was a 2006 Argus' series that revealed the governor's personal use of state aircraft. As a result, an initiative was put on the ballot and South Dakotans voted to limit the use of state aircraft. "Beck's war" has included fights for information on state employees' salaries, invitees to a state-supported Governor's Pheasant Hunt, as well as law enforcement records.

Beck has also championed diversity in coverage and staffing. Under his leadership the Argus Leader was a 2005 recipient of the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership, which is co-sponsored by ASNE, the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Freedom Forum.

Beck credits his staff for this editorial leadership award, saying, "I am humbled and a bit overwhelmed to even receive consideration from ASNE for an award that has gone, in years past, to really extraordinary leaders. More than anything, this honor recognizes the many talented people at the Argus Leader who are committed to making it a fine newspaper."

He has been executive editor of the Argus Leader since August 2001. Previously, he served as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Wilmington, Del.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Kansas City; and Knoxville and Memphis in Tennessee. Beck, 54, is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is married and has four children.

The ASNE Award for Editorial Leadership was first given in 2002 to recognize the men and women who guide America's newspapers. Past recipients of the award are, in chronological order, Paul Steiger, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal; H. Brandt Ayers, editor and publisher of The Anniston (Ala.) Star; John Carroll, editor of the Los Angeles Times; Zack Stalberg, former editor of the Philadelphia Daily News; co-honorees Jim Amoss, editor of the Times-Picayune, New Orleans, and Stanley R. Tiner, executive editor of the The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss; and last year's recipient, Andrew E. Barnes, editor emeritus and retired chief executive officer, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

ASNE, founded in 1922, is the main organization of the directing editors of daily newspapers in the Americas. The organization is leading efforts to protect First Amendment rights and enhance the free flow of information, to promote the newspaper’s role in providing information necessary to the informed practice of citizenship, to encourage innovation and celebrate creativity in newspapers and the new media environment, to drive the quest for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and news content, and to bolster media credibility and improve high school journalism.