NNA to honor distinguished community leader with 2019 McKinney Award

Jul 8, 2019

PENSACOLA, Florida — Susan Rowell of Lancaster, South Carolina, will be honored during the National Newspaper Association’s 133rd Annual Convention & Trade Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she will be presented with the Emma C. McKinney Award at the association’s business breakfast on Oct. 5, 2019.

Recognized as the highest and most dignified tributes in community journalism, the Amos and McKinney awards are presented to a working or retired newspaperman and woman who have provided distinguished service and leadership to the community press and their community. Rowell will be the 51st recipient of the McKinney Award.

The McKinney Award was established in 1966 to honor Emma C. McKinney, co-publisher and editor of the Hillsboro (Oregon) Argus for 58 years. She was dean of Oregon newspapermen and women in 1954 and was inducted into the Oregon Journalism Hall of Fame in 1982.

Rowell began her career in the newspaper business at The Lancaster (S.C.) News, a Landmark Community Newspapers property. Starting as a senior sales representative, she was named advertising manager in 1993. Between 1998 and 2002, she was a strategic development manager and later circulation manager.  She was named publisher/regional manager for The Lancaster News and the Chester News & Reporter in 2002.

In 2004, under her leadership, The Lancaster News upgraded its 31-year-old press, adding a new two-high unit to give the press better color printing capabilities. It also started Carolina Gateway, a free weekly paper that covers the Indian Land area.  In July 2005, Landmark bought The Pageland Progressive Journal, giving it four newspapers in South Carolina. Rowell is the regional manager for all four publications.

Rowell has been an active contributor to NNA’s mission. She chaired the 2012 NNA convention in Charleston, South Carolina. She was elected to the NNA board of directors in 2013, and served as chair of the Marketing/Membership. In 2015, she was elected NNA treasurer, and became vice-president in 2016. In 2017, she was elected president of the association.

As president, she oversaw a successful convention in Norfolk, Viginia, in the fall of 2018. Also during her presidency and into her term as immediate past president, she helped NNA make a successful transition to new management, which brought in a dedicated team to oversee the daily operations of the association. This transition also was critical in shoring up the association’s financial position.

She is also a past president of the South Carolina Press and Lancaster Rotary Club.

Rowell served as the board chair on the board of directors of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce. She was named the 2016 Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year. After her term on the board, she chaired, and continues to chair, the chamber’s Public Policy Committee. Rowell sits on the advisory board to the president of Duke Energy South Carolina. In this capacity, she receives in-depth updates on the utility’s business, regulatory, legislative and community strategies and advises the president on his roadmap for success. 

Rowell also served on the board of trustees of the Lancaster County Community Foundation and is currently on the board of the Lancaster County Society for Historical Preservation and the Lancaster County Good Samaritan Scholarship Foundation.

Matthew Paxton, NNA Past President and Publisher, The News-Gazette, VA, wrote: “Susan Rowell is a consummate community newspaper leader, in the spirit of Emma McKinney. Her dedication to the newspapers she manages, to the industry and to NNA make her a worthy recipient of this award."

Past and present Amos Award winners are listed at http://www.nnaweb.org/amos-and-mckinney-awards

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.