WHYY VP Sandra Clark joins Page Center advisory board
January 8, 2018 • Jonathan McVerry
Watergate and “Spotlight” are often go-to examples of journalism at its best. For Sandra Clark, journalism shines most in its daily pursuit of the truth and that, she says, is journalism at its best.
“It’s not just high profile investigations,” the vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY said. “It’s the care we take every single day. It’s the idea of truth and how we present it.”
Clark joined the advisory board of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication as its first journalist and African-American woman board member. Her unique insights as a veteran of the newsroom, world traveler and advocate of diversity provide a new and vital perspective to the board.
“I am honored to be asked to participate in the Page Center,” Clark said. “Its principles are how I live every day as a journalist. I hope to be a real contributor in offering opportunities to colleagues outside and inside journalism.”
Clark has been a vice president at WHYY, Philadelphia’s public radio station, since mid-2016. Prior to joining public media, she was a managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she rose through a number of editorial positions before joining the senior leadership team. In her spare time, she also serves as managing editor for the student blog, Because Arcadia, at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, an opportunity to mentor and grow young writers. During much of the 1990s, Clark worked for the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, and for Africare in Mozambique running a variety of programs.
“Sandra’s experience and passion for integrity in public communication will be an integral piece to our advisory board,” said Denise Bortree, Center director and associate professor of advertising-public relations. “We all look forward to working with her and learning from her wealth of knowledge.”
With childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, Clark’s journalism career began in high school. At a journalism workshop at the University of Kansas, she interviewed the wife of a Kansas basketball player who had recently died of a brain aneurysm. The story won an award and her life as a journalist began.
Once describing herself as an ‘accidental journalist,’ Clark says she is “committed as ever to journalism.”
Longtime reporter, editor and columnist Acel Moore and one of the original founders of the National Association of Black Journalists recruited Clark to the Inquirer. His mentorship would play a role in her career nearly every day until he passed away in Feb. 2016. His counseling and teaching were essential in shaping Clark’s career, and it is why mentoring has become an area Clark focuses on in her role as vice president.
“Because of Acel, I know how important it is to have someone tell you the truth about yourself,” she said. “Acel was one of those people for me and that’s who I try to be for others. Because I saw him do it, I, too, would like to pay it forward.”
Clark is the twelfth member of the advisory board. She said the Center’s commitment to “character in communication” piqued her interest and the support of integrity in communications attracted her to the role.
“Whether it is journalism, verbal communications or public relations, it’s extremely powerful when you think about communication having character,” she said. “It’s a simple concept, but something that is a guiding principle.”
She added that media has always had its challenges, but despite a high level of media-bashing these days, she is happy to report that “trust is growing.”
Clark is the former board president of the Pennsylvania Associated Press Media Editors and currently serves on the boards of the Associated Press Media Editors (APME) and William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and an M.B.A. from Arcadia University.
Since its 2004 founding, the Page Center has become an international leader in research on ethics and integrity in public communication. Over the past 13 years, the Center has funded more than 200 scholars and awarded more than $750,000 in research funding.
Other members of the advisory board include: Roger Bolton, president of the Arthur W. Page Society and former senior vice president of communications at Aetna; Denise Bortree, Center director and associate professor of advertising-public relations; Ellyn Fisher, senior vice president of public relations and social media for the Ad Council, Marie Hardin, dean of the Bellisario College of Communications; Jon Iwata, senior vice president/chief brand officer at IBM; Maril MacDonald, CEO of Gagen MacDonald; Bill Margaritis, business consultant and investor; Tom Martin, executive-in-residence in the Department of Communication at the College of Charleston ; John Nichols, emeritus professor at the Bellisario College; Bill Nielsen, chair of the advisory board; and Gary Sheffer, senior corporate strategist at Weber Shandwick