Ken Schneck, editor of The Buckeye Flame, has received the prestigious Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year for his work to lift the voices of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community and keep connections strong during the covid-19 pandemic.
The award, presented by NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, is named for Sarah Pettit, a groundbreaking journalist who passed away in 2003 from lymphoma. Steven Petrow, former NLGJA president, called Pettit “one of the most influential gay journalists of our time.”
One of the NLGJA’s judges commented on Schneck’s recognition.
“At the start of 2020, Ken served as editor of Prizm, Ohio’s only statewide LGBTQ+ magazine. Then, on March 23, 2020, he received a call from Prizm’s publisher that the magazine would be folding immediately, leaving Ohio with no LGBTQ+ platform in a state where there are no protections for housing, employment or public accommodations. His response? To organize and launch The Buckeye Flame (in the middle of the pandemic!), ensuring that an outlet existed to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans and support community and civic empowerment.
“It is a mighty and important achievement, and one he has worked tirelessly to support, nurture and grow.”
NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists President Sharif Durhams added, “”After a year unlike any other, our judges were extremely impressed by the quality of this year’s nominations. We received hundreds of worthy nominations, and the selection process was a difficult one. We offer a heartfelt congratulations to all of the winners and are grateful for the work that they are doing to cover our communities.”
Schneck said he was honored – and stunned – to receive the award.
“This honor is way bigger than me. This award is ginormous validation of the journalism we are doing here in Ohio to amplify LGBTQ+ voices and stories,” he said. “The work of The Buckeye Flame is important, and this recognition serves as further motivation for us to keep doing what we are doing…not that you could stop us!”
Pettit, the award’s namesake, was a senior editor at Newsweek and a pioneer in gay media. Her long career began as arts editor for the now-defunct OutWeek, a New York gay and lesbian weekly that stirred national debates about ACT UP, gay rights activism and “outing” public figures.
In 1992, Pettit and Michael Goff created Out magazine, the nation’s first lifestyle magazine targeted to gay men and lesbians. She was editor-in-chief from 1996-98, and in 1999 became the arts and entertainment editor for Newsweek magazine.
“When she spoke, as she often did on gay rights issues and journalism issues,” Petrow said, “she did so with an intellectual rigor and passion that was persuasive to anyone within earshot.”
In addition to serving as The Buckeye Flame’s editor, Schneck is a tenured professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University and serves as the director of the Leadership in Higher Education program, where he teaches courses on student development theory; race, class and gender in higher education; college leadership; and the intersection of public policy and higher education.
Schneck contributes to Cleveland Magazine and Freshwater Cleveland and has been recognized multiple times by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. His work has been published in national media including The Advocate, The Windy City Times, NBC News and more. Schneck has also released multiple books, including “Seriously…What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew” (2017), “LGBTQ Cleveland: Images of Modern America” (2018), “LGBTQ Columbus: Images of Modern America” (2019), and “LGBTQ Cincinnati: Images of Modern America” (2020).
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