The Ohio Newspaper Association’s President’s Award is given annually to an ONA member who has made particularly significant contributions to the association and the industry as a whole.
This year’s award went Frank Deaner, who retired in January, 2011, after serving 20 years as executive director.
“The term ‘significant contributions’ doesn’t begin to describe what this year’s recipient has meant to Ohio’s newspapers,” said David E. Dix, president of the ONA Board of Trustees, in his remarks at the annual meeting.
“I believe Frank was the perfect fit for our industry and then continued to lead the organization to greater heights,” said Richard Morris, general manager of The Sentinel-Tribune in Bowling Green and Dix’s predecessor as board president. “He was certainly a mentor to me, and it always amazed me how he could keep the board focused on the major challenges our industry faced. And, when Frank talked, the Ohio Legislature listened!”
Former Trustee Joseph Zerbey, general manager of The Toledo Blade, added this: “Frank Deaner is a giant in newspaper land. Small in stature perhaps but boy does he carry a large stick. His leadership of ONA coupled with his prowess dealing with elected officials at all levels set a very high mark.”
Another trustee, Andy Blizzard of Cox Media Group Ohio, recounted the strong efforts Deaner made to encourage political advertising for AdOhio and Ohio’s newspapers.
Dix also recounted one moment that created quite a stir.
“For those of you who weren’t around in 1998, there was a moment I remember like yesterday,” Dix said. “We used to sponsor an annual banquet with the governor of Ohio in which the Governor’s Award for service was given. In this particular year, one of the seven recipients was John Pepper, CEO of Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.”
An animal-rights activist snuck in and delivered a pie into Pepper’s face, protesting P&G’s testing of animals.
“That was the beginning of the end of the governor’s awards,” Dix added with a smile.
Deaner is a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania. He joined the ONA in 1990 after nearly nine years as vice president of the trade association representing Ohio’s investor-owned electric companies. From 1970 to 1982 he had several positions in broadcast news and management at radio and TV stations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. He is a proud alum of Ohio University in Athens, where there now is a Deaner Scholarship in his name. He also has a master’s degree in broadcasting from Syracuse University.
At ONA, Deaner earned a reputation as one of the toughest, most effective trade association lobbyists in Columbus. He founded the Ohio Coalition for Open Government and was a leader in a statewide audit of public records that led to a major reform of our open records laws in 2006.
He led efforts to triple the endowment of the Ohio Newspapers Foundation. This allowed ONA’s scholarship and internship programs to expand.
An estimated $100 million worth of newspaper advertising sales were placed through AdOhio during his tenure.
Deaner spearheaded the effort to reform public notice requirements in Ohio that became law in 2011. The ONA also brought Deaner out of retirement to support efforts to enact those reforms versus proposals that would have been devastating to newspapers and public access to this information.