Greg Moore ’76 took the first steps toward his career as an OWU journalism major. Since those days, his career trajectory has been upward, and today, as editor of the Denver Post, he is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top journalists. Beginning his 36-year career with the Dayton Journal-Herald, he moved on to increasingly responsible posts with the Plain Dealer in Cleveland; the Boston Globe, where he served for 16 years, the last eight as managing editor; and beginning in 2002, with the Denver Post. During his tenure at the Post, the paper has won Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Photography in 2010 and 2012 and for Editorial Cartooning in 2011. It was also a finalist for both Breaking News Reporting in 2007 and Investigative Reporting in 2008.
Along the way, Moore has earned a number of individual accolades. In 1996, he was named Journalist of the Year by the New England Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists—and this year, Moore and Thomas L. Friedman, bestselling author and foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, were elected co-chairs of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Moore has served on the board since 2004.
At this point in his career, Moore’s definition of success has changed. “Earlier in my life, I might have told you that success was being at the top of your profession and being rich,” he says. “Now that I’m older and have children, success is much more about being happy and being able to call the shots in your own life. Today, it’s about what you want leave behind, not just financially for your family, but as your legacy. My definition is not as much about me now. It’s not as personal. It’s about something bigger.”
Moore points to several models and mentors who boosted him along the path. “When I was growing up on the streets of Cleveland,” he says, “there was a man who’d served in the army and I remember how erect and proud he looked as he walked down the street. Everyone knew him, and I thought I wanted to be just like him. People would say, “Look at Bill,” and I wanted them to say the same thing about me: “Look at Greg.”
When he arrived at Ohio Wesleyan, “one of my biggest mentors was Verne Edwards,” Moore says. “He was such a stickler for getting it right and doing it right. No shortcuts. If you’re wrong, admit it and move on. We all respected him because he had worked in the world he talked about.
“Sometimes,” Moore continues, “you’d turn in your paper, typed, and Verne would use that red pencil and cross out parts of what you wrote and in the line above, write what you should have said. Sometimes when you got your paper back, the only one of your original words still in it was ‘it,’ Moore says with a laugh.
“I was so fortunate to be assigned to Verne as my academic advisor,” he says. “I also learned a lot about narrative writing from Bob Flanagan, and we had a great relationship outside the classroom, too. You don’t find that everywhere.”
He also mentions some important women who guided him. “In the early part of my career,” he says, “I worked for a lot of female bosses, and my management style was strongly influenced by women. I’m more collaborative, I don’t have to win at everything all the time. My first boss was very tough, but she also schooled me on when it was time to speak and when it was time to listen. Listening is key to success. She helped me learn how to deal with the errors I was sure to make.”
After more than three decades in journalism, Moore remains enthusiastic about his chosen field. “The state of journalism itself has never been better,” he says. “It’s as strong as I’ve seen it in 35 years. There are niche publications doing great investigative work and, of course, online has transformed things in real time. For example, we’ve won seven Emmys for video on our website. The [newspaper] business model itself is in dire straits, but I think we’ll figure it out.”
He’s equally excited about his Pulitzer Prize assignment. “Being on the committee is one of the great honors of my professional career. It’s like being part of the best book club in the world—and you read like crazy,” Moore says. “In books there are five categories that are whittled down by juries to three finalists in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, biography, and history. So you read 15 books from November to April.”
The journalism prizes are even more extensive. “There are 13 categories in things like public service, editorial cartooning, investigative, and others,” Moore says. “There may be as few as 40 or as many as 200 entries in each category, once again juried down to three. You have about six weeks to read the journalism entries.
“Then the big board, which I’m part of, goes to New York and debates and tried to come to a majority in each category. It’s rare that we can’t reach consensus, but it happens—and if your work doesn’t get a majority vote, you don’t win the Pulitzer Prize.”
This very successful journalist, a former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and the Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees, also has taught at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and the American Press Institute. He has the following advice for those climbing the ladder today: “I’d say to apply what you know now to what you want to do in the future. You don’t know what’s coming, so always do your best.”