NNA to honor distinguished community leader with 2018 Amos Award

Jun 27, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Mike Buffington, editor and co-publisher of the Jackson Herald in Jefferson, GA, will be presented with the James O. Amos Award on Sept. 29 during the National Newspaper Association’s 132nd Annual Convention & Trade Show in Norfolk, VA.

Recognized as the highest and most dignified tributes in community journalism, the Amos and McKinney awards are presented to a working or retired newspaperman and woman who have provided distinguished service and leadership to the community press and their community.

Buffington has been involved with weekly newspapers since 1965 when his parents purchased The Jackson Herald in Jefferson, GA. Today he is the co-owner and co-publisher with his brother, Scott, of MainStreet Newspapers Inc., a family-run firm of five weekly newspapers in Northeast Georgia.

Buffington is a past president of both the National Newspaper Association and the Georgia Press Association. He currently serves on the board of directors for the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

In 2008, he was the winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Green Eyeshade Award for Best of Show” from among all media in the Southeast — newspapers, magazines, radio and television — for an investigative series that led to the downfall and conviction of a corrupt district attorney. In 2010, he was presented the Georgia Freedom of Information Award for editorials about corruption in a small town and the state press association’s David Hudson Open Government Award for 30 years of fighting against government secrecy.

In 2015, Buffington won the prestigious Eugene Cervi Award “recognizing a newspaper editor who has consistently acted in the conviction that ‘good journalism begets good government,’” given by The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. In 2016, he won the Golden Quill Award for opinion writing and has won at least eight Golden Dozen awards honoring the best 12 editorials submitted each year to ISWNE.

In addition to his professional work, Buffington is a past president of his local Rotary Club and served as a Scoutmaster for a number of years.

Buffington’s pride in his profession and his community came together in 2011 when he took on a project to create a newspaper museum. The Georgia Weekly Newspaper Museum in Homer, GA, was created to keep small town newspaper history alive.

“The goal Mike said, was not only the preservation of newspaper history, but also the education of a generation that had grown up knowing only electronic media,” said Richard McCord in a 2015 article about the project published in Grassroots Editor.

In her letter of nomination, former NNA President Cheryl Kaechele wrote: “Buffington served on NNA’s board during two of its most troublesome times — during the transition from the offices in the Washington area to Columbia, MO, and the transition from the campus at the University of Missouri to independent quarters. Both instances were during troubled financial times for the organization, and Buffington’s steady hand, particularly in financial matters, proved to be invaluable.

“As president of the NNA from October 2009 to October 2010, I was well aware of the difficulties the NNA faced and asked Buffington to serve on the board as the past presidents’ representative. I had seen his diligence during the earlier transition and valued his expertise as well as his calm demeanor. I had also observed how very dedicated he is to the mission of newspapers in American society and the value he places on an informed public.

“He gives his best in all instances, never shirking from another meeting, another problem, another confrontation if necessary. He is the essence of excellence in journalism and the perfect candidate for the Amos Award.”

Chad Stebbins, executive director for the International Society of Newspaper Editors, wrote in his nomination letter: “For nearly four decades, Mike has been writing columns and editorials in The Jackson Herald. In 2015, he compiled 151 of his columns into a book, ‘Please, No More Stupid Articles!’ Jim Wooten, a retired columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote in a frontispiece to the book: ‘Every community in America needs a newspaper editor like Mike Buffington. His commentary, which can be powerfully directed at politicians, wrong-doers, and the hide-bound who refuse to act in the community’s best interest, is well-researched and convincingly presented.’”

The Amos Award was established in 1938 in honor of Gen. James O. Amos, a pioneer Ohio journalist and member of the National Editorial Association — now known as the National Newspaper Association (NNA).

Past and present Amos Award winners are listed at www.nnaweb.org.

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.