SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Lois Clermont, a former longtime journalist with The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh, has been named the recipient of the New York State Associated Press Association's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
Clermont will receive the award June 1 at the NYSAPA's annual news awards banquet in Saratoga Springs.
According to the NYSAPA board, Clermont was honored for community and industry leadership, her work advancing journalism, her support of newsroom innovation and her dedication to staff development.
"Lois Clermont's career as a journalist in New York state was marked with distinction from start to finish," said NYSAPA President Jeremy Boyer, executive editor of The Citizen of Auburn. "Among a field of terrific nominees for this new award, our board saw her as the ideal recipient because of her steadfast dedication to informing the communities she, and the newspaper staff she guided, covered so well for so long."
Clermont, who retired in 2018 as The Press-Republican's editor-in-chief, began her career at the newspaper as a proofreader in 1976 just after graduating from SUNY Morrisville with a journalism degree.
Eventually working her way up to reporter, Clermont covered a wide range of subjects in the North Country, including the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. Her coverage assignments included the bread-and-butter of any local daily newspaper: city hall, law enforcement and school board meetings.
By the mid-1980s she was city editor and later moved up to news editor. She became editor-in-chief in 2012.
Through those three decades, Clermont became not just a dedicated manager for one of the North Country's largest daily newspapers but also a mentor and friend to a generation of newsroom colleagues, as well as a trusted community watchdog.
"Lois's skill at running the show here was beyond amazing - multi-tasking is a simplistic term compared to the way she juggled editing, writing stories and editorials, interacting with readers, coaching reporters, giving out short-term assignments while at the same time keeping track of what was coming up," said Press-Republican News Editor Suzanne Moore. "She made it look easy."
Clermont's knowledge of the region and contacts in law enforcement were never more evident than during the search for two convicted murderers who escaped from the maximum-security Clinton state prison in Dannemora in June 2015. During the three-week search, Clermont never took a day off while guiding the newspaper's coverage of a story that attracted global interest.
The long days paid off: The Press-Republican won the NYSAPA's Newspaper of Year Award in 2016 for its coverage of the escape.
In the best traditions of the AP news cooperative, Clermont often helped the wire service with requests for Press-Republican stories and photographs of statewide and national interest. Over the years, she eagerly provided AP reporters, editors and photographers in Albany with information and images to be distributed by the news agency, including during the search for the escaped Dannemora inmates.
Summing up a 42-year journalism career wasn't easy for Clermont, but she gave it a shot.
"I always loved it. I never had a time when I didn't want to go to work," said Clermont, who lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, former Press-Republican editor Bob Grady. "It was the most interesting job in the world. I was lucky."
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a NYSAPA member media outlet reporter, writer, editor, producer, broadcaster, executive, technician or other newsroom staff member whose work has made a significant and impactful contribution to New York journalism.
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