By Dave Astor
“I’m both excited and daunted by this honor,” Clarence said of the speaking invitation. “It is a special joy to commune with fellow columnists who understand the joys, challenges, and deadline stresses that haunt my life every week. On the other hand, only a fool would fail to be daunted by the prospect of speaking to a roomful of professional critics. Fortunately, everyone was very nice to me the last time I spoke to the group and I eagerly look forward to doing it again.
“What might Page discuss on June 9? “In these oddball, unpredictable, and often confusing times, I hope to talk about why we need columnists,” replied the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary. “Reporters bring the news. Columnists try to make sense out of it. In today’s era of ‘fake news’ and other attacks against conventional notions of facts and truth, I think the world needs our talents and services more than ever.
“During the first part of his Chicago Tribune career, Page was a reporter and assistant city editor at the newspaper, for which he participated in a 1972 series on vote fraud that won a Pulitzer. Then – from 1980 to 1984 -he served as a reporter, producer, and community affairs director at WBBM-TV before returning to the Tribune. He became not only a columnist but a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, while continuing to make guest appearances on various TV news programs.
A collection of Page’s columns, Culture Worrier, was published in 2014 by Agate. His earlier book, Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity, was published in 1996 by Harper Collins.
Among his other prizes besides the Pyle and Pulitzer ones? The National Press Foundation selected Page for the 2017 W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism, and he has received lifetime achievement honors from the Chicago Headline Club and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Page began his journalism career as a freelance writer and photographer for the Middletown Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer at age 17. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science in journalism in 1969.
Forty-five years later Page’s alma mater inducted him into its Journalism Hall of Fame, and last year Ohio University named him its Alumnus of the Year.
Page has also received honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago, Lake Forest College, the Chicago Theological Seminary, and the John Marshall School of Law, among other places.
Page – who’s married, has one son, and lives in the suburbs of Washington, DC – said he’s happy this June’s NSNC conference will be in Cincinnati. “I grew up in nearby Middletown, where my first columns appeared in our high school newspaper. I feel like my life has come full circle!”
Dave Astor writes the weekly “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com, blogs weekly at DaveAstorOnLiterature.com, and is the author of the 2017 book “Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia.”