As some of the longest serving journalists in the region, Art Holliday, a reporter and anchor for 5 On Your Side, and Wiley Price, a photojournalist for the St. Louis American, have informed St. Louisans for nearly 40 years each.
The Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists recently honored them with the Living Legends award for their journalistic excellence. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to the two about their work and how their careers have changed throughout the years in their hometown.
Price’s career at the St. Louis American is one that not many expected. He described his professional run as “long and hard, but worth it.”
“It’s been an interesting journey for me; coming in to a paper that should’ve been closing as opposed to trying to stay open,” Price said. “… because back in 1979, most black newspapers were closing down across the country, and the American decided under Dr. Suggs that we should stay open – that we had something to say.”
Holliday’s roles at 5 On Your Side have ranged from sports anchor, morning host and now, reporter.
“I see my current role as trying to counteract the perception that St. Louis is a horrible place to live. There are great things going on in St. Louis every day and I get to go out and tell some of those stories,” Holliday said.
While the technological aspects of getting the job done have changed, Holliday explained the basics stay the same.
“In this [journalism] business … you [still] have to be prepared, you have to be inquisitive, ask the right question, ask the right follow-up question – that sort of thing,” Holliday said.
But technological advancements have changed how quickly the news is delivered. Photojournalism is one example.
“Once I walked out of the darkroom into the digital age, I really felt like I was living in the future,” Price added. He explained how photographers used to have to go through the slow process of developing film in a darkroom; now they are able to take a photo and immediately send it off for publication.
Change not for the better
When President Trump claimed that the media was the enemy of the people and dubbed it as “fake news,” it solidified the mistrust some had towards journalists – which Holliday stressed was not always the case.
“It didn’t use to be that way. There was a time when thoughtful journalism was treasured and revered. And now if you’re a journalist, sometimes you have a target on your back. So that’s a change that is not for the better,” Holliday said.
Price gave another perspective on the matter.
“I used to have that target on my back 30 years ago,” he said, describing the skepticism African-Americans used to feel about being documented. But Price worked to develop trust in the communities he works, whether it’s the black community or police departments. “Now … it’s a whole ’nother ballgame for me. When I walk into a room, I’m welcomed.”
While reflecting on their careers, Price and Holliday shared what motivates them and helps their professional development.
For Price, it’s continuing to work at one of the few black newspapers in the country. He said covering the African-American community in-depth is what makes his work meaningful. He shared stories of particular events that reaffirmed this passion during the on-air conversation.
"Something kept telling me, 'I need to stay.' And the reason why was because that's where I started, and when you think you know a community – you quickly realize, especially when you're young – that you don't," Price added.
For Holliday, constantly updating his skill set made him a valuable resource for his news team.
“In looking back at my career, I’m proud of the fact that I have reinvented myself multiple times; because people ask you all the time, ‘Don’t you miss this? Don’t you miss that?,’ and the business is too fast to be looking back in the rearview mirror …
“… I was able to do enough things that they couldn’t figure out how to get rid of me,” Holliday joked.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.