April 21, 2006

Mathews Jr., Volz named Master Editors

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two men with long records of service to journalism joined dozens of other accomplished newspaper editors in the Journalism Hall of Fame as Master Editors during the annual meeting of the Southern Illinois Editorial Association today (April 21).

Tom Mathews Jr., editor and publisher of the Wayne County Press in Fairfield, and David L. Volz, editor of the Nashville News, received their "golden em" pins during a luncheon meeting of the group at Giant City Lodge in Makanda. The pins symbolize a traditional term used by printers in years past.

Portraits of Mathews and Volz also will hang along with previous honorees in the Communications Building at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The SIUC School of Journalism oversees the annual Master Editor awards.

Here are brief biographies of this year's inductees:

Tom Mathews Jr.

As the son of T.O. Mathews, former editor and publisher of the Wayne County Press, Tom Mathews was born into the journalism world. His father received the Master Editor award in 1971.

Mathews began his career writing a teen column for his father's newspaper while attending high school, where he also served on the school newspaper as a photographer. He earned a degree in journalism from Murray State University in 1969 and went to work for the Evansville (Ind.) Courier as a general assignment and police reporter.

In 1971, Mathews returned to Fairfield and began working with his father on the Wayne County Press, serving over the years as a reporter and news editor. In 1985, he succeeded his father as publisher, becoming only the fifth person to fill that job in the newspaper's 140-year history. He later added editor to his title.

Mathews said he is honored to join his father in the Hall of Fame.

"I've followed him my whole life and this is an extreme honor because he was an excellent newspaper man," Mathews said. "He took great pride in putting out a community newspaper that included a lot of personal journalism – the small stuff like who had surgery. It's stuff that many newspapers today wouldn't consider putting on their front page but we still do it here."

Mathews is the recipient of several professional awards, including first-place nods from the Illinois Press Association for best feature story and best original column. SIEA honored him in the late 1980s with an award for best column for his first-person account of attending a rock concert with a daughter and niece at Shryock Auditorium at SIUC. He also served as president of the Illinois Press Association.

Mathews also participates in many civic organizations, serving in the past as president of the Fairfield Jaycees and Fairfield Lions Club. At 58, he remains editor and publisher of the Wayne County Press, which he co-owns with his brother, Preston. Mathews has two daughters, Jessica, 38, of Chicago, and Abby, 34, of Fairfield.

David L. Volz

In his more than 30 years in the newspaper business, David L. Volz' journalism career took him from one end of the state to the other. Along the way, he acquired a reputation as a fair, honorable writer, always reporting both sides of the story.

Volz graduated in 1972 with a degree in mass communications and journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He started work right away as editor of the Highland

News Leader in Highland. It was there he became immersed in the day-to-day skills required of a weekly newspaper journalist, serving as reporter, editor, photographer, advertising salesman and paste-up crewmember.

After eight years, Volz became the owner of the Amboy News, in north central Illinois, where he served as both editor and publisher of the publication. While running his paper, Volz had the opportunity to cover two U.S. presidents as they visited the area: Ronald Reagan, who was paying a visit to his nearby hometown of Dixon, and George H.W. Bush, who visited a farm progress show in the area.

After 15 years, Volz sold his newspaper to return to his home area in southwest Illinois, where he became editor of the Nashville News. He has served in that role since 1996.

Over the years, Volz attended numerous professional seminars dealing with all aspects of the newspaper business, winning several awards for writing. His memberships include the Illinois Press Association, Northern Illinois Press Association and National Newspaper Association.

Volz said he remains dedicated to weekly, community journalism.

"I love the variety, the fact that you learn all aspects of the newspaper business if you work at a weekly paper. I run into people who are strictly reporters who couldn't tell you the circulation or ad rate of the their paper. At a weekly, you're sort of a one-man band."

Volz said he worked with two Hall of Fame members in his career: Rich Tomaszewski, publisher of the Nashville News, and Russ Hoffman, publisher of the Highland News Leader.

"I'm honored to be in their company because I know what it takes to put out a weekly newspaper and it is sometimes very difficult. When you step out on the street, they know who you are and they're not afraid to tell you what they think. There's not a lot of room for ego."

Volz also has served his communities as a member of the board of directors of the Amboy Area Chamber of Commerce and as president, vice president and secretary of the Highland Chamber of Commerce.

Volz' family includes Debra, his wife of 32 years, and two sons, Todd, 30, and Travis, 28, both of St. Louis.

Serving others 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.