At an awards ceremony in New York City June 8, Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications announced the winners in the 2022 Mirror Awards competition for excellence in media industry reporting. Chosen by a group of journalists and…
Trustee and Alumnus Larry Kramer ’72 Honored With the Distinguished Achievement Award from SABEW
Syracuse University Trustee and alumnus Larry Kramer ’72 has had a legendary career as a journalist, media executive and entrepreneur. His award-winning career included more than 20 years as a reporter and editor with the San Francisco Examiner and The Washington Post, and oversight of staffs that won two Pulitzer Prizes. As an entrepreneur, he was founder, CEO and chairman of MarketWatch Inc., the first president of CBS Digital Media and former president and publisher of USA Today.
Kramer’s multidimensional career and significant impact upon the media industry has been recognized with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW)—its highest honor. Kramer received the award during SABEW’s annual convention in New York City on May 13. The award is given to an individual who has made a significant impact on the field of business journalism and served as a nurturing influence on others in the profession.
Following the award presentation, Kramer shared reflections on his career with Brian Sozzi, editor at large and anchor at Yahoo! Finance, who was mentored by Kramer at TheStreet earlier in his career.
“They (Larry Kramer and David Calloway) saw something in me, then promoted me to editor where I would lead a team of reporters,” Sozzi said in a recent post on Twitter. “They mentored, encouraged and pushed me to hit grand slams. Importantly, they let me know when I missed the mark so I can improve.”
Sozzi spoke of some highlights of Kramer’s long and distinguished career, including photographing the Woodstock Music Festival, delivering papers during the October 1989 San Francisco earthquake, and creating MarketWatch and the modern-day USA Today.
“He mentored and discovered hundreds of journalists you know, love and follow each and every day,” Sozzi wrote. “Hell of a human being. Proud to be a graduate of his school. H/T to you. My friend.”
Kramer says the award was a nice surprise. “I am truly humbled to receive this award and join the list of previous winners who I have admired from near and far through all my years as a reporter, editor, entrepreneur and media executive,” he says. “This comes at a time when we particularly need to celebrate business journalism in its roles as a watchdog of business and government and in the constant search for truth. SABEW has always held our profession to the highest standards. It’s an honor to join those cited for their extraordinary work and for the examples they set for those who will follow us.”
“Larry Kramer is a visionary journalist, entrepreneur and teacher,” says SABEW President Caleb Silver, editor in chief of Investopedia. “He created several important business journalism platforms and organizations that are still going strong today and led several others to new heights. Beyond his business accomplishments, he has been an inspirational mentor, professor, philanthropist and friend of the industry throughout his incredible career.”
His Life’s Path Began at Syracuse
The seeds of Kramer’s legendary career were planted at Syracuse University, where he majored in journalism in the Newhouse School of Public Communications and political science in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
During his time at Syracuse, Kramer says he learned as much outside of the classroom as he did in it. He wrote for The Daily Orange and was a founder of The Promethean magazine.
Kramer learned an important lesson about tenacity during his senior year. He took a magazine writing class that was designed to give students a foundation in writing for freelance opportunities. He wrote an article, “The Grass and Hash Business at Syracuse University,” that focused on drugs on campus at that time (the early 1970s). The professor gave him a B+, and Kramer thought it deserved a better grade. “See if you can sell it then,” the professor told him.
He did just that and sent it to major publications. While he received more than 25 rejections, he got one acceptance that mattered…Fortune Magazine. Fortune ran his piece (he was the youngest author ever to have a byline in the magazine) and paid him $2,500—which covered Kramer’s tuition for the semester. Soon after he received a call on the phone on his residence hall floor from Rolling Stone, asking to run the story as well. He received another $2,500—covering his tuition for the whole year.
“It was a lesson for me in tenacity and how we have to make our own breaks,” Kramer says. “This is a subjective business—you can never give up.”
For Kramer, taking advantage of those breaks led to unbelievable experiences. A chance call he took while sitting on the DO’s city desk led to work as a stringer for The Associated Press (AP) and put him on the scene when a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo was taken at Cornell University. That paved the path to a summer internship with the AP, which led to him being the first photographer to capture images from Woodstock in 1969, photos that made the centerfold of Life Magazine.
After earning an MBA at Harvard University, Kramer began working at The Washington Post in 1974. When he arrived, his new editor shared what impressed him the most: “your uncanny ability to land feet first in the middle of big stories.”
“These were lessons I learned at Syracuse that have paid out for me my whole life,” Kramer says.
A Love of Mentoring
Kramer shares great memories while reflecting on his career and the people he has worked with. “I have never had a job that I didn’t love,” he says. One of his greatest joys has been the opportunities to mentor young journalists. Among those journalists who worked for Kramer in their early years were CNN’s Poppy Harlow, The New Yorker’s David Remnick, The New York Times’ Kara Swisher and the late Gwen Ifill of PBS. He served as an adjunct instructor in the Newhouse School, and has been a lecturer at several universities, including Harvard Business School, University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Berkeley, New York University, Columbia University, Stanford University and Emory University.
After more than five decades in the industry, what advice does Kramer have for up- and-coming journalists and entrepreneurs? “Make your own breaks and aggressively follow your instincts,” he says. “Don’t get discouraged. Try something. If you get knocked down, get up and try it again.”
He also encourages speaking to people on their level, and to listen. Spend time. Be determined, persistent and do your research. Be inquisitive. “Do the job you were assigned and do it well. That’s how you get to eventually do the stories you want to do,” he says.
SABEW is the world’s largest association dedicated to business and financial journalism. The SABEW Distinguished Achievement Award was established in 1993 when it was awarded to Hobart Rowan of The Washington Post. There have been 28 prior recipients.