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Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Indiana University to award honorary degree to Andrew Barnes

Journalist and former editor and newspaper president to receive Doctor of Humane Letters degree

For immediate release, April 20, 2005

"Andy was the greatest force for good journalism in late twentieth-century America."

-- Thomas Curley, president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press

It would be difficult -- even for the most skeptical reporter -- to overstate Andrew Barnes' contributions to journalism. Under his leadership, the St. Petersburg Times won five Pulitzer Prizes for journalistic excellence, while Congressional Quarterly and Governing earned seven national magazine awards. In 1998 he won the Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award, presented annually to Florida's civil libertarian of the year.

In 1999, Barnes created a special scholarship for Tampa Bay-area students who show great promise in overcoming tremendous personal adversity. Five years later, the scholarships were renamed the Barnes Scholarships in his honor.

Throughout his 33-year professional career (1961-2004), he earned the respect of his peers by upholding and furthering the high standards of journalism championed by the late Nelson Poynter, an IU alumnus who built the St. Petersburg Times into one of the nation's most respected and read newspapers. Poynter also founded an educational institution, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which continues to train journalists and newsroom leaders from around the country and the world.

Barnes, 65, served as editor and president of the St. Petersburg Times from 1984 until his retirement in 2004, during which time the paper became the best-selling daily newspaper in Florida. His tenure at the Times was not without challenges. In 1988, he defeated an attempted takeover of the newspaper by Texas financier Robert Bass, preserving and protecting Poynter's legacy of independent journalism.

Says the AP's Curley, "In an era of industry consolidation and conglomerate journalism, Andy defined community. In an era of audience fragmentation and loss, Andy delivered growth. In an era of increasing pressure for government secrecy and intimidation, Andy was a beacon for openness.

"Andy left his mark with a steadfast commitment to the essence of journalism: enlightenment, fairness, and a joy for a story well told. No one had a greater impact on his profession nationally by simply doing so much right locally," he adds.

Barnes has maintained Poynter's relationship with Indiana University by honoring the former Indiana Daily Student editor's commitment to undergraduate education. The St. Petersburg Times supports the IU School of Journalism's largest and most prestigious undergraduate scholarship for journalism majors and helps to fund a national summer workshop on teaching for journalism faculty members. It also has provided employment for the school's best and brightest students, including current St. Petersburg Times CEO and editor Paul Tash, a Marshall Scholar who graduated from IU in 1976.

Because of these connections, the newspaper now has 19 graduates from the School of Journalism on its reporting and editing staff and one on the staff of Congressional Quarterly.

Though he has finally left the editor's desk, Barnes, who is currently serving as chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, promises to play a prominent role in the future development of the journalism profession. He remains a "powerful voice for quality in our profession; for caring about the community of which one is a part; of promoting both diversity and excellence," says New York Times Company Chair Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.

Like Poynter before him, Barnes leaves behind a proud legacy. Says Paul Tash, the man who assumed Barnes' editorial post, "Andy Barnes picked up the enormous responsibilities for a creation that is unique in American journalism, a creation born of the hard-eyed Hoosier optimism of Nelson Poynter. I believe Mr. Poynter would be pleased to see another Hoosier in the short line of people who have followed him, especially if I prove as sturdy and sure-handed as the man I have watched and admired for a quarter century, Andy Barnes."

David Boeyink, an associate professor in the IU School of Journalism, recently spent six weeks conducting research in the newsroom of the St. Petersburg Times. During that time, he witnessed the legacy of journalistic excellence that Barnes inherited and enhanced. "Resources are devoted to long-term projects. Staffers are held to high standards," Boeyink says. "Everyone in the newsroom shares a common culture in which discovering the truth -- and getting it to citizens accurately -- is the first priority. I've never been in a newsroom I admire more than this one."