Enterprise editor wins international award — again

Melissa Hale-Spencer

Melissa Hale-Spencer

For the ninth time, Enterprise editor Melissa Hale-Spencer was recognized among the best opinion writers in the weekly press.

The Golden Dozen awards were officially announced last week in Portland, Oregon, during the 2018 conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. In the society’s annual contest, opinion writers are judged for their editorial skills and courage, with the best of the top dozen winning the Golden Quill award.

Hale-Spencer was awarded for the editorial “We stand as one with transgender students,” written after President Donald Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that, among other things, had let them use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Hale-Spencer, 65, has edited The Altamont Enterprise & Albany County Post for more than 20 years and became a co-publisher in July 2015. She was first named to the Golden Dozen in 1999. In 2008, she won the Golden Quill, for the editorial “We, the people, are responsible for what our government does.”

The Golden Quill was awarded this year to Mark Ridolfi, assistant editor of The North Scott Press in Eldridge, Iowa, for his editorial, “How do you petition a grievance without access to records?” decrying the new requirement that Iowa gun-carry permits are now secret.

The Golden Dozen contest this year was judged by Jackie Risley, a former journalist who is now senior director of marketing for a Silicon Valley software company.

“This submission proves that powerful editorials don’t have to be critical, maintaining a positive tone even in the face of what was likely a controversial issue,” Risley wrote of Hale-Spencer’s editorial. “Melissa praises the school district’s empathetic support for transgender students even after federal protections were rescinded. From the individual community heroes to the school policies, this editorial shows how a community can fulfill their duty to protect vulnerable students.

Editorials written by Hale-Spencer are accompanied every week by illustrations from artist Carol Coogan. Her drawing for the prize-winning editorial featured a forlorn figure, as if crushed by a roll of toilet paper with a lighthouse like a beacon shining in the background, reminiscent of Rockwell Kent.

Hale-Spencer graduated from Guilderland High School, where she was an editor at The Journal, and from Wellesley College, where she wrote for The Wellesley News.

She learned to write from her father, a lifelong newspaperman. She took her first reporting job when her parents called on her to help at their Adirondack weekly, The Lake Placid News, where her future husband, Gary Spencer, also began a career in journalism.

Hale-Spencer started writing for The Enterprise as a young mother of two daughters in the 1980s. She introduced the first regular, strongly-worded editorials to The Enterprise, writing them as a part-time reporter covering the Helderberg Hilltowns and assumed the masthead in 1996 as co-editor with fellow staff writer Andrew Schotz.

Jesse S. Sommer's picture
Jesse S. Sommer
Joined: 12/20/2017 - 05:18
Honored that Ms. Hale-Spencer is our community's voice

Ma'am, we're truly privileged to have you as our megaphone and mascot. Congratulations on a distinction weekly earned with each installment of the newspaper.

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