April 12, 2006

SIUC alumnus wins national journalism honor

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A top newspaper industry journal has named a Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus as its "Publisher of the Year."

Editor & Publisher, the country's longest-running journal covering the newspaper industry, selected Doug Ray, president and chief executive officer of the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, for the annual honor. Ray, who worked at the Daily Egyptian student newspaper during his time at SIUC, graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1969.

Ray said SIUC's journalism program attracted him to the University, but he found even more reasons to attend after arriving.

"When I attended SIU at Carbondale, it was because of the journalism school, which at the time was recognized as one of the better j-schools in the country. There also was a caring guidance office, helping students like me sort through the many choices in the department," Ray said. "In large part, the University was for me what it is to so many young people today: It provided access and opportunity to attend a major university and to experience all that goes along with that."

Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at SIUC, said Ray's success reflects well on the University.

"We are ecstatic that a Saluki has received the high honor of Publisher of the Year award from Editor & Publisher," Pendakur said. "He has led the paper to grow into the third largest daily in Illinois in the highly competitive Chicagoland market. This is a tribute to the School of

Journalism at SIUC, which is known for turning out high achievers. I am proud of Doug Ray and all the other Salukis who work for his company."

The Daily Herald covers parts of five counties to the northwest of Chicago, including almost 100 individual communities. The paper is the state's third largest, with a circulation of about 150,000.

In honoring Ray, Editor & Publisher credits him with leading the Daily Herald as it increased its circulation and advertising during his four years as CEO. It also notes his leadership of the paper in 2000-2002 as it weathered a sharp downturn in advertising throughout the newspaper industry without cutting employees.

Along with its circulation growth and advertising success, Editor & Publisher also cited the Daily Herald's innovative editorial projects. Ray, for instance, supported a long-term effort to annually send a reporter and photographer to the homeland of one of the immigrant communities in its market. So far, Daily Herald journalists have traveled to India, Mexico, the Philippine Islands, China and Poland.

Ray also oversaw the purchase of Reflejos, a twice-monthly Spanish and English-language publication that the company redesigned and changed to a weekly publication with more emphasis on Spanish.

Ray, 58, started at the paper as a reporter in 1971, just a couple years after finishing his degree at SIUC. He moved up quickly, becoming managing editor at 28, just as the paper was completing its transition from a non-daily, small local paper to a big city competitor. He has been at the paper 35 years.

Editor & Publisher says Ray demonstrated how newspapers can grow and prosper even at a time of industrywide circulation losses and layoffs.

SIUC has honored Ray in the past. In 2000, the University presented him with the Obelisk Award for arts and communication. He was also the School of Journalism's Alumnus of the Year in 1990 and has served on the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts Advisory Board of Directors.

Ray said the University has improved even more since his days as a student in the 1960s and he has sought to stay involved.

"I was among the group of journalism students who attended classes inside barracks-type buildings and thought nothing of it. It is quite a contrast to the magnificent journalism campus that exists today," Ray said. "Through the years I have stayed somewhat involved with the University, sitting on the journalism school's advisory council and from time to time, speaking to classes. Early on in my editing career at the Daily Herald, I recruited for reporters on the campus and found some good ones who also have found homes at the Daily Herald."

Ray's past awards also include the 2003 Lifetime Meritorious Service Award from the Illinois College Press Association for his work with collegiate journalists.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

(Caption: Publisher of the Year - Editor & Publisher, a leading journal covering the newspaper industry, recently named Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus Doug Ray its publisher of the year. Ray graduated from SIUC with a degree in journalism in 1969 and has remained involved with the University)