In 2014 the Press Club of Long Island launched the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. It’s a collection of some of the finest journalists in Long Island history.
For the first year, we inducted all of our previous “Outstanding Journalist of the Year” winners.
This capsule segment will live on PCLI.org and we’ll ask our Hall of Fame inductees about their career, their role as a journalist and their induction to this prestigious hall.
Karl Grossman, Hall of Fame Class of 2014
Grossman is the first president and founder of the Press Club of Long Island. He is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. For more than 45 years he has pioneered the combination of investigative reporting and environmental journalism in a variety of media. He is the host of the nationally aired television program Enviro Close-Up, the narrator and host of award-winning TV documentaries on environmental and energy issues, the author of six books and writer of numerous magazine, newspaper and Internet articles.
1. What does it mean for you to be an inductee of the Long Island journalism hall of fame?
“I’m thrilled to be a member of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame especially considering those honored with me. We have had and continue to have an extraordinary group of journalists on Long Island, one of the reasons that, back in 1974, I endeavored to create the Press Club of Long Island. And to be on a listing that includes the foremost former Long Island journalist, Walt Whitman, multiplies my delight.”
2. What has been the single greatest moment of your career?
It’s hard to identify the “single greatest moment” of my career. Three moments come readily to mind:
*Receiving the George Polk Award in 1970. It was for exposing how under the guise of constructing a “deep water harbor,” the biggest sand mine Long Island has ever known was being dug in Jamesport. My three-part series ended the scam, this rape of Long Island. I was a reporter at the daily Long Island Press and at 28 was my first major journalism honor.
*Another big moment (two relates ones, in fact) involved addressing members of the British Parliament two times after writing two books and doing TV documentaries which provided information on the “Star Wars” scheme of President Ronald Reagan to place nuclear-powered battle platforms in space with the atomic energy providing power for laser weapons, hypervelocity guns and particle beams.
*And another big moment was speaking at an “all-Russia” environmental conference attended by 2,000 people in Saratov, Russia, the only westerner to address the event, invited after decades of specializing in investigative reporting on energy and environmental issues.
3. Why did you become a journalist and talk about the privilege/responsibility of a journalist in society?
I was inspired to become a journalist as a student at Antioch College in Ohio doing an internship at the Cleveland Press. The first newspaper of E.W. Scripps, a major figure in the muckraking era, when I was there in 1960 it remained imbued with the muckraking culture of journalistic investigations and crusades that Scripps had created,. The paper ran expose after expose. This is corny but above the entrance to the paper was its motto carved in the stone: “Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way.” Etched alongside was a lighthouse. Those weren’t just words. It’s what the Cleveland Press did continually. And the amazing thing to me was that about half the time after an expose was published which revealed and documented an injustice, a danger, a horror story, the situation was resolved. In my more than 50 years as a journalist, I have found this to be what happens–not all the time but about half the time as a result of investigative journalism. I returned to New York aiming to become an investigative reporter like those I saw in action in Cleveland. As to the “responsibility/privilege” of journalism, I think the highest ideal is, indeed, giving light so people can find their own way.