Eagle honored with John F. Kennedy Commonwealth Award

Fredric D. Rutberg, at podium, accepts the 2019 John F. Kennedy Commonwealth Award given The Berkshire Eagle by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation on Monday in Boston. "To get an award that's tied to President Kennedy just adds a level that can't be described," Rutberg said.

BOSTON — The Berkshire Eagle has received the 2019 John F. Kennedy Commonwealth Award for "demonstrating the enduring civic value of community journalism" from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

The special recognition was presented Monday at the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Commonwealth Awards luncheon held at WBUR's CitySpace performance venue in Boston.

Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Steven M. Rothstein, executive director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, presented the JFK Commonwealth Award — a glass medallion and a certificate, along with a copy of the October 1963 speech Kennedy gave about Robert Frost at Amherst College — to Fredric D. Rutberg, publisher, president and co-owner of The Eagle.

Kennedy was a strident supporter of the arts and humanities, and he also "believed that democracies are built on a platform of free press," Walker said.

"It's rare today to live in a community served by a newspaper that is locally owned and that gives as much coverage to arts and culture as, say, sports," she continued. "No newspaper has devoted more resources and energy to stories that matter about our collective public trust than The Berkshire Eagle."

In presenting the award to Rutberg, Rothstein quoted a line from a Kennedy speech: "When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."

Kennedy "valued the importance of media," Rothstein said. "The Berkshire Eagle is a model in so many ways ... through their balanced look at arts and culture and politics and sports."

Rutberg accepted the award.

"I speak for everyone at The Eagle — from the inserters to the pressroom to the salespeople to the photographers, designers, reporters and editors — to say that we are truly appreciative and extraordinarily humbled to be awarded anything from the Massachusetts Cultural Council," Rutberg said. "But to get an award that's tied to President Kennedy just adds a level that can't be described."

The Eagle contingent attending the event included Rutberg, Publisher Emeritus Martin Langeveld, Vice President Jordan Brechenser, Executive Editor Kevin Moran and Managing Editor Tom Tripicco.

The Cultural Council also gave four Commonwealth Awards that honor exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities and sciences. Thirteen individuals and organizations were finalists for Commonwealth Awards. Kate Maguire, the executive director of the Berkshire Theatre Group, was among the finalists.

The 2019 Commonwealth Award winners were the Boston String Academy, an advanced music ensemble of young musicians inspired by El Sistema; Mass Audubon; the Provincetown Art Association & Museum; and The Care Center in Holyoke. The Eagle's arts coverage received a Commonwealth Award in 2017.

Renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Sim n Bol var Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was the event's keynote speaker.

Nearly 200 people attended the program.