Former Park Record editor Nan Chalat Noaker honored with lifetime achievement award
When Nan Chalat Noaker moved to Summit County from Boston in 1977, she didn’t know how long she’d stay.
Born and raised in Detroit, she wasn’t accustomed to living in the mountains, or the nasty winter commutes that come with them. Relationships with close friends in New England, meanwhile, beckoned her back to the East Coast.
But then she met the man who would become her husband. And she landed a gig at The Newspaper, a weekly publication that competed against, and later merged with, The Park Record, fulfilling her desire to write stories and take photos.
Time passed. She put down roots.
On Wednesday, Noaker was celebrated for the mark she’s left on the place that eventually became her home. The Utah Society of Professional Journalists presented her with the Utah Headliners Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual awards banquet in Salt Lake City, honoring her distinguished journalism career that spanned 40 years and, most notably, included two decades as editor of The Park Record before her retirement in 2017.
Noaker developed a passion for journalism when she was young. Her grandfather subscribed to two Detroit newspapers, and her parents were avid news consumers and active in their community.
“Instead of studying it in school, it’s the way I was raised,” she said of her journalistic roots. “You read and participate. I always wanted to write because we were all readers. I was lucky enough to get to do it.”
She said the award was even more meaningful because it was given to her in a room of fellow journalists who share her zeal for the profession and are reporting stories vital to their communities at a time when journalism is under intense scrutiny.
“The kind of work that is being done (in Utah), and looking at those faces, a lot of them are really young, and some very diverse faces,” she said. “That gives me great, great hope and optimism. And we need to hold onto that right now because journalism is under attack.”
In accepting the honor, Noaker pointed to the influence of three Park Record editors who came before her and who were present at the banquet. The legacies of David Hampshire, Teri Orr and Sena Taylor, she said, loomed large when she took the helm of the newspaper.
“They each in their own way set really fine examples, so that when I became editor there were very high expectations,” she said. “I only ever felt that I was barely able to meet them. It’s an enlightened community, a very active community, and a lot is expected.”
Park Record Publisher Andy Bernhard said in a prepared statement that Noaker, who was the second-longest-serving editor in The Park Record’s 139-year history, carved out a legacy of her own, and the recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists is evidence of what it meant to the community.
“Winning the SPJ Lifetime Achievement Award genuinely recognized her commitment to community journalism,” he said. “The trust she earned in our community was a result of an enduring work ethic and a unique ability to build relationships on a broad range of issues. The Park City community and The Park Record both benefited from her prudent judgment and tenacity.”
Current Park Record staffers also earned recognition from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists for work published last year.
The Park Record, notably, was named the best newspaper in its circulation size, based on judges’ evaluation of three complete editions from 2018. Editor Bubba Brown nabbed a first-place award for an editorial lauding Park City’s united response to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October, while an enterprise piece that explored the influx of nightly rentals in Summit County secured top honors for former reporter Carolyn Webber Alder in the business/consumer category.
City reporter Jay Hamburger earned three awards, finishing second in the categories of best newspaper reporter and continuing coverage and taking an honorable mention for spot news. Brown and production manager Ben Olson finished second for front page design.
James Hoyt earned a third-place honor across all circulation sizes and news platforms for a multimedia package profiling a Parkite who leads a University of Utah esports team.
“The honors and recognition earned from an organization as respected as the Society of Professional Journalists offers a considerable degree of pride,” Bernhard said in a statement. “It also represents a measure of validation for the tireless efforts of our staff. Our staffers work hard and recognition from our peers means a lot.”
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