The Stuart Long Memorial Scholarship for Aspiring Journalists honors the memory of Stuart Long, who died in 1977 after a journalism career that began during the early 1930s. Mr. Long founded the Long News Service, a state capital news agency, in the mid-1940s and operated it until the time of his death. He was married to former Austin City Council member Emma Long. He and Emma were also Headliners Club members.
One of the many journalists who worked for and learned from Mr. Long was Ben Sargent, who later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Austin American-Statesman. After Mr. Long’s death, Sargent wrote in the Texas Observer that Long placed “principles above all else.”
“He knew where all the bodies were hidden and how the system worked,” Sargent wrote. “His knowledge was encyclopedic. But in a world where fighting for principles is little more than a tired slogan, Long really believed in the possibility of justice. He dedicated his life to its realization.”
Mr. Long himself said of his work as a journalist, “If nobody is mad at us, we’re not doing our job.”
Mr. Long did make enemies among the powerful, and there were repercussions. One powerful legislator saw to it that when the Capitol received a new elevator shaft, it cut right through Mr. Long’s newsroom on the building’s second floor.
Funds for Stuart Long scholarships were raised from the sale of tickets and program advertisements for Gridiron Shows staged almost every year from 1978 to 2000 by the Austin Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The shows lampooned political figures of the day and sometimes poked fun at the journalists themselves. Profits from the shows were invested, with scholarships paid from the earnings.
The Austin Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists spun off the scholarship activity to the Gridiron Association in 2002. The Stuart Long Memorial Scholarship for Aspiring Journalists total $7,000 annually, with one award of at least $3,000, to aspiring journalists attending universities in Austin, Georgetown and San Marcos. In 2014, the Stuart Long Scholarship Committee announced its largest-ever award to an individual: $5,000 to Shelby Sementelli of St. Edward’s University. Two other students, in 2014, won $1,000 each.
Beginning with the 2015/2016 school year, the Headliners Foundation of Texas received the fund balance to administer a scholarship in Mr. Long’s memory.