Penn Lines editor Peter Fitzgerald (right) accepting the Haggard Award from NRECA Board president Mike Guidry.
Photo credit: Mike Lynch
San Diego, CA.; March 7, 2012 — Complicated energy issues benefit from a clear, direct, and balanced approach. Penn Lines, a magazine reaching 166,000 families, farms, and businesses across Pennsylvania, was honored March 7 for setting a strong national example of how to connect to and educate electric cooperative members.
Penn Lines Editor Peter A. Fitzgerald received the prestigious 2011 George W. Haggard Memorial Journalism Award from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The award recognizes an editor and electric co-op publication demonstrating the most forthright, concise, and balanced presentation of ideas advancing the objectives of electric cooperatives and their members. Fitzgerald, a former public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army, has been working on Penn Lines since 2006.
NRECA Chief Executive Officer Glenn English and NRECA Board President Michael Guidry presented the award to Fitzgerald during the 2012 NRECA Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif. The magazine is published by the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association, the Harrisburg, Pa.-based statewide organization representing the interests of electric cooperatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“As we enter a new era of energy issues and communication challenges, it’s important to remember one voice can make a difference, especially on the statewide level,” notes English. “Penn Lines demonstrates an obvious commitment to connect content to cooperative values. The publication also does an excellent job advocating for smart energy use.”
“I think Penn Lines succeeds because, at its heart, it's a very local publication,” explains Fitzgerald. “In the media landscape of today, it's increasingly more difficult to find good, local coverage. Thanks to the tremendous support of our member systems, Penn Lines really speaks to our local cooperative communities.”
The publication was lauded for imaginative headlines, journalistically strong writing, and an appealing array of storylines and timely topics. The Haggard Award competition encourages graphic as well as editorial excellence.
“Penn Lines boasts excellent covers that are both interesting and captivating,” judges observed. “The publication uses great typography, quality paper, and is visually appealing—it also does the best job we’ve seen of integrating local electric cooperative news pages into the magazine. Pennsylvania is a big and diverse state; what works in one area may not work in another. But Penn Lines does a great job of seeking copy that will appeal to all.”
“Forthrightness, clarity, and balance are cooperative values, so they're intrinsically important to any cooperative publication,” concluded Fitzgerald. “I think cooperatives have a great story to tell, and strong statewide publications succeed by sticking to those values and telling that story.”
The award honors George W. Haggard, a former statewide editor, statewide manager, and federal Rural Electrification Administration official who was killed in a plane crash in 1951. Haggard championed the creation of electric cooperative statewide consumer publications. These publications consistently rank among the most widely read in the United States, reaching more than 12 million households served by cooperatives based in 38 states each month. Twenty publications entered the 2011 competition.
More than 8,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 4-7 in San Diego, Calif., during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2012. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer owners. NRECA, a national service organization, represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to more than 42 million people in 47 states.