COLUMBUS — Long-time Vandalia resident and a former Group Publisher for Civitas Media has received the Ohio Newspaper Association’s highest honor. During the recent ONA Convention, Frank Beeson was presented with the William Maxwell Award.
The honor was given to Beeson “in recognition of a career devoted to the support and advancement of the ONA and Ohio’s newspapers,” according to the state newspaper association. ONA and Toledo Blade President Bill Southern and ONA Executive Director Dennis Hetzel made the surprise presentation on Feb. 9 at the Columbus Polaris Hilton.
The award is named for the publisher and editor of The Centinel of the Northwest Territory. Established in Cincinnati in 1793, The Centinel was the first newspaper in what would become the state of Ohio, admitted to the Union in 1803. The award was presented for the first time at the 2009 ONA Convention to Cleveland native Len Downie, Ohio State University journalism graduate and former editor of the Washington Post.
In making the announcement, Southern noted that the award is presented only when the Maxwell Award Committee, which includes the ONA President, Board of Trustees, and representatives at-large, deem there is merit to cite an individual. Nominations are accepted once every year. Beeson becomes only the third person to have received this honor.
The 1971 Vandalia-Butler High School graduate began his writing/editing/publishing career soon after graduating with a degree in Journalism News-Editorial from Kent State University. He was hired by Bowling-Moorman Publications in the summer of 1975 as assistant publisher, managing the editorial operations for weekly newspapers throughout the northern sector of the Greater Dayton Area in Tipp City, West Milton, Englewood, New Carlisle, Huber Heights, and then later in Vandalia (The Drummer News).
In 1983 he accepted a position with Dix Communications, based in Wooster, eventually serving as General Manager for The Daily Record and its other weekly products.
In 1999 he briefly left the newspaper industry and worked in economic development, serving Wayne County and the State of Ohio, where he coordinated industry capital and recruitment projects totaling more than $100 million annually in 1999, 2000, and 2001. For his efforts in expansion and recruitment, Beeson was nominated as “New Development Executive of the Year” at the 2002 international economic developer convention in Oakland, CA.
It was in 2003 he returned to his hometown area, accepting the position as Group Publisher for Times Community Newspapers, then based in Kettering. He managed operations for 14 weekly newspapers with a total circulation in excess of 120,000 in the communities of Beavercreek, Centerville, Englewood, Enon, Huber Heights, Kettering-Oakwood, New Carlisle, Tipp City, Vandalia, West Milton, Springboro, Bellbrook, and at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (The Skywrighter). During his second stint with the Dayton-Area newspaper chain, Beeson assisted the parent company through ownership transitions, originally with Brown Publishing, and then later to Ohio Community Media, before eventually becoming Civitas Media, the parent company of The Vandalia Drummer News.
Most recently, Beeson managed the operations at AdOhio, the “for-profit” affiliate of the Ohio Newspaper Association. As Vice-President for Advertising, he, along with the Columbus-based staff, coordinated advertising buys for national and regional clients, as well as state governmental agencies, placing advertising in newspapers and associated websites throughout Ohio and the nation. He now serves as a consultant for AdOhio/ONA.
“I humbly accept this award on behalf of the many outstanding newspaper professionals I have had the privilege to work with through the many years … To me, this award goes to all of them as well,” Beeson said at the luncheon. “The people in this great industry are like my extended family. And to be honored by your family … well, I’m not certain I’m worthy, but I am very proud of all of YOUR accomplishments.”
Also attending the surprise presentation was Sandy Beeson, wife of the honoree, and Travis, Frank’s younger son, who drove from North Carolina for the announcement. Beeson’s other son, Talon, who is a professor at Austin Peay State University, Tenn., had opening night for a university theatre production, which he was directing, and was unable to attend.