Burt & Ursula Freireich

Burt and Ursula receive the pretigious Cervi Award in 2008.

ISWNE stalwarts Burt and Ursula Freireich stepped to the plate and provided $10,000 in 2006 to establish the ISWNE Foundation's first endowed scholarship.

Every year, the Burt and Ursula Freireich Scholarship enables an ISWNE newcomer to attend his or her first summer conference by paying the registration fees. The scholarship recipient is responsible for transportation to the conference.

The Freireichs, of Litchfield Park, Ariz., were the recipients of ISWNE's 33rd annual Eugene Cervi Award at the 2008 ISWNE conference in Detroit.

In 1960, Burt and Ursula Freireich bought the Youngtown News and Sun City Sun for $7,500 in the unincorporated Northwest Valley area of Phoenix. The fledgling, twice-monthly tabloid had been created just four years earlier. Burt had been a sports writer with The Phoenix Gazette but dreamed of owning his own paper.

With a $1,500 down payment and lots of confidence - but with little experience in photography or crafting display advertising - the Freireichs took control of the paper, which was redubbed the News-Sun for the July 22, 1960, issue. They thought "Youngtown News and Sun City Sun" was way too much of a mouthful to say, especially when answering the phone.

The News-Sun became the Daily News-Sun in 1977, publishing six days a week. The Freireichs sold the Daily News-Sun to Ottaway Newspapers Inc., a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co. Inc., in 1984. Today, it is the sixth-largest paid-circulation newspaper in Arizona.

Burt attended his first ISWNE conference in 1963. At the editorial page critique, he was told in no uncertain terms to get rid of his editorial page ads. He would later recall how he drove the 2,000 miles back to Sun City "mad as hell" over the advice. By the time he got home, Burt later related, he had decided to throw out his old editorial page with its ads and replace the content with editorials, letters, his own column and a column by a local old mining character. Across the top of the eight-column page, the News-Sun started featuring a long letter-to-the-editor or reprinting an editorial by a conference member such as Gene Cervi.

Elected ISWNE vice president in 1967, Burt told his readers in a column datelined from Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois: "This annual week-long meeting is something special to me. First, of course, it is provocative, informative and inspirational to the editors who convene here to discuss only matters which affect our doing a better news job. It is the only seminar in which commercial aspects of the newspaper business are out of place.

"Secondly, a unique comradeship has built up among the conference's fellows, and I find a great deal of pleasure in renewing my personal relationships with the keen-witted individuals who have become my associates here.

"As for the basic function of the conference, I hope it will be reflected throughout the year in the News-Sun's editorial pages and in Sun City-Youngtown attitudes. This conference since 1963, my first year of attendance, has had a significant effect upon our community, more than any of our readers could imagine and even more than I realize. The results have been for the good...."

By the time of the 1969 ISWNE conference, Burt was doing the editorial page critiques in partnership with Rick Friedman, the former Editor & Publisher columnist who had publicly scolded him just six years earlier for including ads on his editorial page.

In 1986, the Freireich family launched the West Valley View, which is published by Elliott Freireich, son of Burt and Ursula.

The Freireichs also helped launch the ISWNE Foundation in 2000-01 by providing $2,000 to cover incorporation, filing, and IRS fees. They made another $1,000 donation to the Foundation in December 2010.

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