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FARMINGTON — Daily Times Editor Troy Turner will receive a national award recognizing leadership and commitment to promoting cultural diversity, the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C., announced Friday.

The Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership will be presented to Turner during the national Associated Press Managing Editors Conference in St. Louis on Oct. 30.

It is widely considered the nation's highest journalism honor for diversity leadership and combating racism, and it is the only award jointly given by the Freedom Forum, APME and the American Society of News Editors.

The McGruder award, a namesake for the former Detroit Free Press editor lauded for work as an advocate of diversity, is presented to two journalists each year, in both small- (under 75,000 circulation) and large-sized media markets.

Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle Editor Karen Magnuson also was recognized.

Freedom Forum Vice President Jack Marsh said Turner's commitment to cultural diversity is a clear priority in The Daily Times' day-to-day news coverage of the Four Corners region, a courageous effort made visible despite the short resources available to such a small newspaper.

"The limited resources were never an excuse: Troy Turner, because of his leadership, has made diversity a priority for The Daily Times and as a result, the newspaper has become a true leader in the community in combating racism and promoting cultural diversity," Marsh said. "There are so many newsrooms that have vast resources and struggle to do that."

The Daily Times, with a circulation of about 18,000, is among the smallest news organizations ever recognized with the McGruder Award, he said.

Raised in Alabama in the 1960s amid the civil rights movement, Turner said personal experience with racism and cultural insensitivity led him to being dedicated to diversity issues early in his journalism work.

"It's something that's been very important to me throughout my career," Turner said. "I think there are few things (in journalism) more important than promoting cultural diversity and battling racism."

That attitude can be witnessed in the evolved approach taken by The Daily Times to tell the rich stories of the Navajo Nation, he said for example.

"When I first came here in 1999, there was a lot of resentment that Navajo news could sometimes find its way to the front page in a positive light," Turner said. "I hope it's not unusual anymore for somebody to read a feature story about a medicine man on the front page one day, about a church baptism the next, or a Hispanic wedding tradition the next. ... I hope that our readers have learned to accept that we're going to be pretty diverse with our range of stories."

Turner and The Daily Times newsroom in May 2008 received national honors for diversity in news coverage with an award presented by Columbia University in New York.

Daily Times Publisher Sammy Lopez said the award underscores the ongoing commitment to diversity and fair news coverage by Turner and the newsroom staff.

"I think it's well deserved for a lot of hard work," Lopez said. "The editor is being recognized in this, but I clearly understand the hard work that the entire newsroom and all the employees at The Daily Times have contributed for us to be able to achieve something like this."

Turner was nominated for the award by Daily Times Production Director Cindy Cowan, who wrote that Turner has excelled by encouraging news staff and colleagues "to better understand a responsibility to report both the similarities and differences that influence our cultural experiences" in the Four Corners.

But winning an award doesn't mean the job is done, Turner said.

"I hope it helps give us credibility in our fight from this day forward," Turner said of the national award, "because there is a lot of work that remains to be done in Farmington and the Four Corners area."

James Monteleone:

jmonteleone@daily-times.com