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Veteran journalist Dan Flannery wins UW-Madison’s Journalism Ethics Award

April 11, 2011

The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison will honor newsman Dan Flannery, executive editor of the Post Crescent in Appleton, Wis., with the Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award on Friday, April 15.

Flannery, a veteran of the newspaper industry, will be recognized for his lifelong practice of applying the highest ethical standards to his work. As executive editor, Flannery is responsible for the day-to-day editorial operation of the newspaper and its website. Despite the immediate challenges pressing the newspaper industry, Flannery has remained true to the spirit of community journalism, tackling tough issues and engaging citizens and community leaders alike to work towards positive change.

A committee of working and retired journalists considered Flannery’s long tenure at Gannett, his leadership at the helm of the Post Crescent and his work in the field of civic journalism.

“Dan exemplifies what’s best about journalism and the good work that can be done. He understands the impact it can have but also understands that its integrity is essential,” says Tom Bier, vice president and station manager of WISC-TV Madison, Wis. “He not only lives up to the integrity standards himself but has also worked to make sure that his readers know that ethical discussions happen regularly and often in newsrooms across the state and the country,”

In 2010 Bier received the first Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics award.

A true community journalist, Flannery believes in his efforts to stay engaged in the larger community.

“Telling people what is going on isn’t always the most comfortable thing, but it is a responsibility inherent to the field of journalism,” he says. “It is important to tell these kinds of stories, as difficult as they may be.”

Flannery started at the Post Crescent as a sports editor in 1985. Flannery has spent the majority of his career at the Post Crescent, a Gannett newspaper in Appleton, and has moved steadily up the ranks in the newsroom. He was named executive editor of newspaper in June 2007. His previous journalism experience included tenure as a sports copy editor at the Southern Illinoisan newspaper (Carbondale, Ill.) and as a sports reporter at the Green Bay News-Chronicle.

“When I was looking to name an executive editor in Appleton, I had three requirements: A passion for news, a passion for developing the news team and a passion for the community,” said Genia Lovett, president and publisher of the Post Crescent. “All of those shine brightly in the body of work Dan has amassed during his 25 years at the Post-Crescent. He truly believes in the important role we play in our society, and leads an award-winning news operation because of that belief.”

Flannery was the committee’s unanimous choice.

A native of Laona, Wis., Flannery is a graduate of the UW-Green Bay in communication processes. He is married to Mary Flannery. They live in Appleton and have two daughters and two grandsons.

Judges included Herman Baumann, principal, Green Line Strategies, of Palatine, Ill.; Ellen Foley, executive director of communications and community development at Madison Area Technical College; Judy Frankel, coordinator of the Madison Writer’s Network; Jack Mitchell, professor emeritus of journalism at UW–Madison; Peter Fox, senior adviser to the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and John Smalley, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. Bier was also on the panel.

Foley was the committee’s chair. Foley worked in the news journalism business for more than 30 years and served as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal from 2004 to 2008. She has also worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, the Kansas City Star, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Detroit News. She earned a master’s in journalism and a bachelor of arts in political science, both from UW–Madison.

“The Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award seeks those who have acted with integrity without compromising or ignoring ethical principles,” says Stephen J. A. Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and Burgess Professor of Journalism Ethics. “When faced with a tough judgment call, an ethical dilemma, or pressure to ignore ethical values, the honorees have made firm decisions with clarity and according to ethical principles.”

The committee will give Flannery the award at the Third Annual Journalism Ethics Conference on April 15, staged by the Center for Journalism Ethics. The center is in the UW–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communications. For more information on the award and the conference, click here.

Attention assignment editors: The Ethics Center can coordinate interviews with Ward, Flannery or others involved in the award. Photos of Flannery and Ward are available. Contact Ward or Wendy Swanberg, assistant to the center director, at