Halbreich, Stafford receive national newspaper honors

CHICAGO — Jeremy Halbreich, chairman and CEO of AIM Media Management, which owns The Tribune, was honored with the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award on Monday during the Senior Leadership Conference of America’s Newspapers.

Also honored at the conference was The Republic assistant managing editor Dave Stafford, who received an award for editorial writing.

Halbreich’s award was presented by Cameron Nutting Williams, president of America’s Newspapers and chief revenue officer of Ogden Newspapers, who said Halbreich’s wisdom, guidance and professionalism contributed greatly to the formation of America’s Newspapers.

“I heard about Jeremy before I met him,” Williams said. “It is so rarely the case, but everything I had heard, that Jeremy was one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and strategic leaders in our industry, was proven correct and at the same time not remotely adequate. Jeremy’s professional accomplishments speak for themselves. He has left his mark on our business across the country in addition to being a force in business.

“Jeremy is without fail generous with his time, sharing his advice and experiences with his colleagues and friends and always with the utmost empathy,” she added. “Over the years, I’ve heard numerous people say something along the lines of, ‘When Jeremy talks, I listen,’ and they are smart to take those opportunities. I am personally pleased and honored to know Jeremy as I do. He is a great leader, but above all, a wonderful person.”

The Mayborn Award was first presented in 2004 by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and now is presented annually by America’s Newspapers. It is named in memory of Frank Mayborn, who served as president of SNPA in 1961-62, and is presented to an industry executive to recognize his or her vision, community leadership and contributions to the newspaper industry.

Halbreich began his career with The Dallas Morning News after graduating from Harvard University. When he was named to the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2013, the Texas Newspaper Foundation noted he was the first nonfamily member to complete the executive management training program at The Dallas Morning News, where he rose through the ranks to become president and general manager.

He left The Dallas Morning News in 1998 to form his own newspaper company, America Consolidated Media LP, which he later sold prior to becoming chairman of the board and CEO of Sun-Times Media in Chicago. During his tenure, the Chicago Sun-Times won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 2011.

He formed AIM Media Texas in 2012, AIM Media Indiana in 2015 and AIM Media Midwest in 2017.

Nutting noted Halbreich was honored with the Inland Press Foundation Distinguished Service Award at the America’s Newspapers conference in Colorado Springs. That award recognizes the contributions of newspaper industry leaders and executives who have distinguished themselves in service to the foundation, to their communities, their companies and the industry.

In addition to his service with Inland, Halbreich was an active member of SNPA and served as a mentor with SNPA’s NexGen program for newspaper professionals with executive potential.

Stafford was among the winners of the Carmage Walls Commentary Prizes for papers with a circulation under 35,000. He received third place for editorials based on The Republic’s coverage of a local woman who was murdered in her home by her estranged husband, who then killed himself.

After The Republic dug into the records, Stafford said it “became evident our courts had failed to protect her.”

“The woman had petitioned for a protective order against her estranged husband,” he said. “She had gone to court and submitted evidence claiming domestic violence, yet the court declined to err on the side of caution and enter a protective order in her case.

“We felt a need to speak with a strong voice on our editorial page and call out this failing, and we did so, forcefully pointing out how our local courts failed to apply the law,” he said. “Soon afterward, the local courts reaffirmed a commitment to protecting victims of domestic violence. Judges pledged to meet with local domestic violence prevention groups. Since then, these meetings have happened. Local law enforcement also met with domestic violence prevention advocates for joint training.

“We believe our editorials and the public reaction to them helped focus the community on a failure to protect when the courts’ help was sought that we hope never happens again. The emphasis now is undoubtedly on prevention and protection.”

Judges said: “This piece not only displayed courage by calling out a judge, it shined light on how the judicial system is perceived to be broken, putting lives at stake. At the same time, it offered solutions, did some digging and praised officials’ responses (for workers) in the aftermath of this victim’s horrific end to her life that could have, should have been preserved.”