Gruner Awards Banquet
The George F. Gruner Awards for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism annually recognize outstanding community service in newspaper journalism in the central San Joaquin Valley. The awards, which honor Mr. Gruner, a former executive editor of The Fresno Bee, rank among the top journalism honors in the state.
The McClatchy Company established the Gruner awards in 1989. The Department of Mass Communication and Journalism administers the competition and co-hosts the awards banquet with The Fresno Bee, which provides a grant to make the awards possible. The banquet takes place each April.
The MCJ department conducts the contest by selecting a three-judge panel and a fourth, nonvoting judging coordinator. Veteran outside newspaper journalists comprise the panel. Up to one award is given in each of the following categories: weekly newspapers; daily newspapers under 50,000 circulation; and daily newspapers over 50,000 circulation. A fourth “at large” award is sometimes also given. Winners receive cash prizes.
About Mr. Gruner
George F. Gruner retired in April 1988 after a career in journalism covering 46 years, including 33 years on the news staff of The Fresno Bee. Before joining The Bee, he worked for 10 years as a reporter for the Oakland Tribune and two years as a copy editor on the civilian staff of the European Edition of The Stars and Stripes, the armed services newspaper published in Germany.
After a year on the copy desk at The Fresno Bee, Gruner was named assistant city editor in 1956 and city editor in 1961. He served as assistant managing editor in 1970, became managing editor in 1971 and executive editor in 1981.
Gruner was a figure in a Freedom of the Press issue in 1976 when, as a member of the “Fresno Four,” he was jailed for contempt of court for refusing a judge's order to reveal a confidential source of information used in The Fresno Bee's news stories concerning a city official. He and three other members of The Bee's staff refused to reveal the source and spent 15 days in custody before being released. The “Fresno Four” received wide support from journalists and many other individuals and organizations throughout the United States for upholding the right to maintain confidential sources.
Since his retirement, Gruner has written two books, a history of the battleship USS California and another on the coastal passenger liners Yale and Harvard.