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By Ben Bruhnke beb011@latech

By Ben Bruhnke

beb011@latech.edu

 

Stan Tiner, a Tech alumnus and executive editor of The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi, Miss., is still basking in the success of what he called a team effort after his paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for community service last Monday.

Tiner and his staff received the prestigious award for the paper’s coverage of the devastation of Southern Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina. Tiner is a finalist for the Pulitzer in the editorial writing category.

“We are incredibly honored that our paper would be recognized like that,” Tiner said. “After we got the announcement, I was looking at the staff, and some of them were crying.”

Tiner said the award would not have been possible without the dedication of his staff who continued to not miss a day of printing, regardless of the devastation that hit so close to home.

“A number of the people in our newsroom had their homes destroyed and lost everything they had,” Tiner said.

“One member had a sister and brother killed. Throughout all of that, they covered the story every day. I don’t know when I’ve seen a staff rise to the occasion like this one; they just feel incredibly committed to telling the story because they are so connected to the people involved. I am very proud of them.”

Tiner said the Biloxi area has been overlooked compared to the attention given to New Orleans.

“Well, for a long time [we] didn’t notice it because everyone was so intent with dealing with personal issues or helping neighbors to begin the recovery process, but we came to see that our story was being neglected,” Tiner said.

“While what happened there is a tragedy, we didn’t want to feel like a footnote to New Orleans. Katrina destroyed 70 miles of our coast, and I’ve gone to places where people will ask me, ‘Are you back to normal?’ It is important for the newspaper to keep the nation on focus on that we have needs right now.”

Tiner said this award is dedicated to the hurricane victims in his area.

“This award represents the determination of Southern Mississippi,” Tiner said. “They have inspired us so much with their courage and their will to survive.”

Wiley Hilburn, head of the department of journalism and a professor of journalism, said Tiner deserves the award because of his commitment to his craft.

“[Tiner] is intense, yet very easy to be around. I’m not surprised at all [about the award because of] his intelligence and commitment,” Hilburn said.  “His drive, his determination to succeed and, more than anything, his commitment to journalism is what makes him great. You don’t always find that in people, not even in top writers. I’m just enormously proud of him.”

Hilburn said Tiner has been a leader since he was an editor for The Tech Talk in 1968-69.

“He put The Tech Talk on the map his first year because before he became the editor, it was the administration’s paper. It didn’t even cover the minutes of SGA,” Hilburn said.

“It was a big challenge. He was the first student editor to include not only a black student, but a black columnist on the paper, and this was in the 1960s. He had stories from flag burning to homosexual issues to the war in Vietnam.

“The paper had become the central headquarters for all these social and political and economic issues in Ruston,” Hilburn said.

Reggie Owens, an assistant professor of journalism and columnist for The Tech Talk under Tiner, said Tiner was an influential editor.

“He is a very daring person because he was intent on making The Tech Talk a true reflection of the students on the campus and span every view as much as possible,” Owens said.

“You have to understand human nature and human needs, and he understands that. When you cover people well, you reach into a person. [Tiner] could reach into people and understand who they were.”

Tech President Dan Reneau said Tiner’s achievement is a great milestone, not only for the journalism department, but for the entire university as well.

“I think it’s a very big deal for this department. We want to show off our great achievements,” Reneau said.

“[Tiner] has become the Terry Bradshaw of our journalism department, and it will help attract dedicated students like him to our campus.”


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