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.
Scott Brinton, Hall of Fame Class of 2014
Scott Brinton is senior editor for enterprise reporting and staff development at Herald Community Newspapers, as well as an adjunct assistant professor of journalism at Hofstra University’s Herbert School of Communication. He has also freelanced as a feature writer for Newsday and as a photographer for The New York Times. While serving in the Peace Corps in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria from 1991-93, he wrote “Bulgaria, Land of Yogurt and Honey,” a more than 10,000-word guide to the Balkan nation’s history, politics, economy and culture.
1. What does it mean for you to be an inductee of the Long Island journalism hall of fame?
“To me, it’s utterly astounding to be inducted into the Press Club of Long Island’s Journalism Hall of Fame. I grew up on Long Island and have lived here nearly all my life, except for relatively brief absences during college and Peace Corps service. I published my first story –– a piece on drunken driving –– in a Newsday special section for young writers when I was 16, in 1984. I could never have imagined back then eventually seeing my name alongside such towering figures not only of Long Island journalism but American journalism as Karl Grossman, Robert Greene and Robert Keeler, among all the other truly accomplished professionals in the inaugural class. It really is very humbling and gratifying.”
2. What has been the single greatest moment of your career?
“There are so many great moments. Without a doubt, the single greatest day was in April 2002, when the Village of Freeport pledged to shut down diesel Power Plant No. 2. Governor Pataki, State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. and Long Island Power Authority Chairman Richard Kessel attended the closure ceremony, among many other dignitaries. I wrote a series of 44 stories –– more than 60,000 words in all –– examining the potential health and environmental dangers that this diesel plant posed, while looking at the sticky legal issues involved. People read the stories and formed Clean It Up or Close It Down, a coalition of civic and environmental organizations. Hundreds marched on the plant. More than a thousand people wrote letters to Governor Pataki. The plant was built before the Clean Air Act of 1970, when environmental regulations were essentially a joke. Because of the public outcry, Freeport agreed to shut down the plant and replace it with a clean-burning natural-gas model. It still thrills me to know I was a catalyst for change. Journalism is a catalyst for change.”
3. Why did you become a journalist and talk about the privilege/responsibility of a journalist in society?
“I became a journalist because I love to write. I have since I was a young child. It’s that simple. Once I became a reporter, I quickly realized the enormous potential journalists have to change the world for the better. A democratic society such as ours needs accurate, objective information to sustain itself. Professional journalists –– trained, skilled journalists –– provide just that. It is an enormous privilege to have the public’s trust. As journalists, we must never forget that.”