PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — At its national conference in Providence, Rhode Island, ACES: The Society for Editing announced Rob Reinalda, executive editor at Ragan Communications, as the winner of the 2019 Robinson Prize for his exemplary work in 2018. Reinalda received $2,000 and a crystal trophy.
The Robinson Prize, established in 2005, honors an “editor of the year” whose work exemplifies the values that ACES promotes. It is named for Pam Robinson, who helped found ACES and served as its first president. This year there were 14 nominees, the most submissions ever received for the award.
“This award isn’t designed to applaud the best speller or the best grammarian,” says former ACES President Teresa Schmedding, who helped establish the award in 2005. “Being a good wordsmith isn’t enough. Today’s editors need to be skilled in conflict resolution, show excellent judgment, demonstrate initiative, and be able to find creative solutions to help their publications succeed in this era filled with increased competition.”
Robinson Prize nominees “are evaluated on a combination of elements, which can include editing, design, mentoring and training, fostering a sense of teamwork and pride among colleagues, and anything else that furthers the craft of professional editing.”
Reinalda stood out among the many candidates, especially when it came down to breaking the three-way tie. One colleague described Reinalda as not an order taker but a “Chief Improvement Officer” and said, “It’s not just about typos and subject-verb agreement for Rob. When he spoke at ACES in 2018, his main tenet was the belief in editing aggressively. He is masterful at being succinct but keeping voice and message intact. Most importantly, he does so with a keen eye on the audience to make sure that the written words will matter to and benefit them. It is not just about cleaner and tighter writing.”
Another colleague said, “He made the jump from print to digital writing/editing, recognizing that yesterday’s (sadly) shrinking news hole is today’s ultra-compressed time window. He edits accordingly while also keeping up with modern attention spans and communication vehicles — it’s a testament to his adaptability.” Judge Andy Bechtel reiterated how Reinalda’s transition from newspapers to corporate communications shows how editing is a universal skill, relevant in journalism, public relations, and beyond.
Judge Karen Conlin noted from reference responses that it was obvious Reinalda’s former coworkers all left with knowledge and experience they didn’t have before they’d worked with him, directly attributable to him and not the job in general. “The ‘I’m a better editor for having worked with him’ contingent is strong with Rob.”
In addition to being a terrific colleague, Reinalda was praised for being a teacher, coach, mentor, mediator, and all-around mensch. “His standards are unyielding and extremely high, but even with his tough love it’s always underpinned by compassion, empathy, and wanting us all to excel,” said one colleague. “Great editors have the best traits of butchers, doctors, therapists, reporters, and teachers, and he embodies all of these. He edits in a manner that strips out needless information and crystallizes the crucial bits. He has a great knack for concisely magnifying and clarifying what the author is trying to convey.”
Reinalda has set standards for excellence that people want to follow: He writes for Grammar Girl podcasts, one of his grammar and punctuation guides has been downloaded more than 1,000 times, his articles are picked up by Huffington Post, and he’s an endorser on the back of the 2018 Associated Press Stylebook.
Reinalda has been with Ragan Communications since 2008 after spending 28 years in print journalism, including 25 years as an editor at publications such as the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune. His essays on language and writing can be found on Ragan.com and PRDaily.com. He tweets as @word_czar.
The judging panel consisted of Christine Steele, freelance editor and UC San Diego Extension copyediting instructor; Andy Bechtel, associate professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Media and Journalism; Karen Conlin, freelance editor and 2018 Robinson Prize winner; Matthew Crowley, editor/owner of Matthew Crowley Editorial; and Patricia Cole, digital news copy editor, NPR.