- NENPA University
Member Spotlight - Yankee Quill Recipient Robert Schrepf
52nd Annual Yankee Quill Awards
Robert Schrepf, Hartford Courant
Bob Schrepf is a quiet leader who came out of Nebraska to New England to write editorials for The Hartford Courant. After a decade and a half as a reporter, editorial writer and editorial page editor at the Lincoln Star, he brought his voice of reason to the Land of Steady Habits. He helped change some of those old habits. Schrepf’s voice in his lucid prose resonated with his audience. But not always.
He and his boss, John Zakarian, “were reviled by the anti-tax folks,” he recalled of the bitter 1991 income tax row when Gov. Lowell Weicker pushed through the state’s first income tax. The Courant supported Weicker through 98 editorials, prompting one legislator to caw, “Our nation’s oldest newspaper has gone rabid.”
From senior writer to deputy editorial page editor to vice president and editorial page editor, Bob Schrepf was instrumental in dismantling the “feudal” and corrupt state high sheriffs system, in preserving priceless landmark Hartford buildings, advocating for campaign finance reform, and keeping the pressure on investigations into former Gov. John Rowland, who ended up in federal prison.
Schrepf’s writing, according to Carolyn Lumsden who replaced Bob as editorial page editor, was “behind a great many of The Courant’s best-written and best-reasoned editorials of the past quarter- century.”
“Bob’s level of curiosity is off the charts, and he researches very diligently,” said Hartford architect Tyler Smith, crediting Schrepf for saving a priceless building about to be torn down by an insurance company.
Needless to say he collected a bevy of Connecticut and New England writing awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Best Editorial” of 2000, “Say Goodbye, Sheriffs.” Among other “out of office” activities, Schrepf was and remains an active member of the Association of Opinion Journalists (formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers), a past president of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors, and a member of the board of directors of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government. According to Courant colleagues, Bob “elevated journalism in Connecticut . . . with his remarkable command of political lore.” He made the state “a better place to live.”
He could be a bulldog in print, but as Lumsden wrote upon his retirement in 2007, “The joie de vivre that made him so cheerful also made him kind, and the people who worked for him, as well as many of the people he wrote about, were the grateful beneficiaries of his good nature.”
Bob Schrepf still goes to The Courant two days a week to write editorials.
— James H. Smith Academy of New England JournalistsRead eBulletin article >>