Jerry Zremski, the new Washington bureau chief for The Buffalo News, was inaugurated Saturday night as president of the National Press Club -- one of most prestigious posts in Washington journalism.
The event took place at the National Press Club in a gala celebration billed as a "Black Tie and Snow Boots Ball," a spoof of the "Black Tie and Boots" affairs connected with President Bush and his Texas roots. More than 300 guests attended the event, which featured a performance by humorist Mark Russell, a Buffalo native.
Zremski becomes only the second member of The News Washington Bureau to attain the honor. Alfred H. Kirckhhofer, the late editor of The News and former Washington bureau chief, was president in 1927. The late Lucian C. Warren, who was appointed Washington bureau chief for The News in 1968, served as National Press Club president in 1955 while with the Buffalo Courier-Express.
Among those attending the affair were Margaret M. Sullivan, editor and vice president of The News, who noted the accomplishment by citing Zremski's reputation as a "real Buffalo kind of guy."
"For one thing, he has a great Polish-American name and heritage," she said. "He's also a hardy soul, undeterred by any kind of snow job that should come his way, whether that arrives in fluffy white flakes or mounds of political doublespeak."
Zremski, a 1982 graduate of Syracuse University, began his career as a financial reporter for The News in 1984, following a stint at the Knickerbocker News in Albany. He joined the Washington Bureau in 1989 and has since covered the affairs of the nation and Western New York in the capital.
He has won numerous awards and traveled to various international destinations for The News, including a tour as an embedded reporter with U.S. troops in Iraq in 2003. Earlier this month, he was named bureau chief, succeeding Douglas Turner, who retired from that position but remains as a reporter and columnist based in Washington.
Zremski, the 100th president of the club as it prepares for its centennial year in 2008, said he will devote his presidency to one of its chief missions: ensuring freedom of the press.
"Whenever any government, here or abroad, tramples the public's right to know, the National Press Club will speak out," Zremski said in remarks Saturday night. "And to keep myself accountable on that point, the first sticky note I tacked on to my computer in the president's office reads: 'What have you done for freedom of the press today?' "
Among those expected to attend the affair were Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence; former Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr., R-Hamburg; former Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda; former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello; and Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan.
Zremski succeeds Jonathan D. Salant of Bloomberg News.