Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award

Thank you for making a difference in my life ... and for your friendship

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In accepting the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award at SNPA's News Industry Summit, Gregg Jones, president of Jones Media Inc. and co-publisher of The Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun, said:

When I first learned that I had been named the 2013 recipient of the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award, I was shocked and stunned ...  I am still stunned.

Receiving this award is extremely meaningful to me.   Please give me a moment to explain why.

It came as quite a surprise to my grandmother to find herself publishing one of three politically-oriented newspapers in Greeneville, Tenn., in 1916.   She had been trained as a teacher, but there were no teaching jobs to be had.  And, since she was separated from my grandfather, she knew that she had to find a way to feed and clothe herself and her two young children.

So, she had an opportunity, and jumped on it. But, she had no earthly idea how long she would be there. She stayed until she died, more than a half century later.

In 1945, my father returned from World War II and was headed for a very good job that he had been offered in Richmond. My grandmother was in ill health at the time, and asked my father if he would help her out until she could get back on her feet, before going to his other job ... but, for no more than six months.  My father agreed.

Six months later my grandmother's health had improved. But, my father stayed ... and he's still there.  At nearly 99, Dad remains the publisher of The Greeneville Sun.   And, yes, I am still the co-publisher.

Then we get to the sixties, when my four siblings and I were beginning to make decisions about what we were going to do with our lives.  Neither my grandmother nor my father tried to force any of us to go into the newspaper business.  But, when I asked my father why he had stayed, Dad gave me what I'll call "The talk ..."

Dad said that he thought that the newspaper business was a good business, and that I and my siblings should consider going into it.  Dad told us that with a lot of hard work, a modicum of talent and a fair amount of luck, one could probably make, in the newspaper business, a living decent enough to support one's family and be reasonably comfortable.

He said that there is a seductive allure to being the first to know what's going on in the world ... and to having access to newsmakers more easily than most.  And, he said that the people you run into who get into the newspaper business, and who stay in the business, tend to be nicer and  more interesting than people in other professions.

Then, he planted the hook.   He said that there was something else that I should know ... and it was the most important thing of all.  He said that it is important to make a living ... but, that it is even more important to create a life.

He said that to create a life for yourself, you have to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  And, he said that he knew of no business that made it easier to make a real difference than the newspaper business.

My father told me that he had learned that lesson pretty quickly when he was helping out my grandmother back in 1945 ... just as my grandmother had learned it long before him.  So, I had my answer about why they stayed.

The Southern Newspaper Publishers Association is important to me and my family ... always has been ...

My father served as a director, and my grandmother actually became SNPA's first female director in 1921.  Attending SNPA gatherings is something my family has always looked forward to.

I have a wonderful large format photo of an SNPA gathering in 1925 at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville in which my uncle, grandmother and great-grandmother are all clearly pictured, along with 77 others ... and everyone appeared to be having a heck of a good time.

And, I will never forget my first SNPA Convention. It was at the Boca Raton Hotel. I was dazzled by everything about the meeting ... especially how friendly and smart everyone was.

Many of the best, most trusted  friends I ever expect to have, I have met through SNPA.  It is no secret that SNPA-ers consider networking to be the greatest value that SNPA provides its members.

I think that is because we tend to share a vision, and values, and interests ... and because SNPA creates an environment within which we are nurtured.  It's an environment within which making a difference in our communities and in our transforming industry through the pages of our newspapers – through our leadership and with our treasure – is what we're all about.

Frank W. Mayborn certainly believed in making a difference ... for the communities he served, for the industry he loved, for SNPA.  It was his mantra, his passion – to the degree that books have been written about it.

It seems significant, somehow, that SNPA and Frank W. Mayborn were both born the same year ... 1903.   My grandmother and father knew Mr. Mayborn and considered him a highly respected colleague and like-minded friend.

The honor I am being afforded today is way beyond my imagining, especially when I consider the list of outstanding past recipients.

So it is with great humility that I stand here with this award bearing Mr. Mayborn's name. I think my grandmother would be proud, and I know my father will be.

Thanks to you, Sue Mayborn, for creating this award, and to those who had a hand in naming me this year's recipient.

And, let me say how very grateful I am to you: the people in this room, to those who came before you and those who will follow for making SNPA the wonderful organization that it is and will continue to be.  For allowing me to be part of you, for making a difference in my life and that of my family and, more than anything, for your friendship.

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