On June 7, 2018, the fourth recipient of the Clem Taylor Journalism Scholarship Was Awarded to a Deserving Montclair High School Graduating Senior
Clem Taylor would probably describe himself first as a father and a husband, then as a Montclair resident, maybe as a lover of some oldies music hits, and lastly, as a journalist. Taylor began his journalism career at a young age. After writing for his hometown newspaper, The Doylestown Intelligencer, out of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, he went on to become the editor of the Boston College publication, The Heights. Taylor also worked as a reporter for National Public Radio (NPR), and spent about 10 years at ABC as a producer for Primetime, 20/20 and What Would You Do?
But Clem spent the majority of his career at CBS News, including a stint as senior producer of The Early Show. Clem Taylor spent the last four years of his life as a producer for the CBS program 60 Minutes. His piece on a symphony orchestra from the Democratic Republic of the Congo earned him a Peabody Award, one of the most prestigious honors awarded for storytelling.
Clem Taylor passed away in March 2014, at the age of 60, after a ten-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Following his untimely passing, his family and friends in Montclair wanted to honor him in the best way they knew how. And so, the Clem Taylor Journalism Scholarship was born.
The Clem Taylor Journalism Scholarship provides $10,000 ($2,500 a year) to a Montclair High School graduating senior who plans on pursuing a form of journalism or storytelling in college. This does not necessarily mean that the senior must choose journalism or communications as their major, but it could also include writing for a school newspaper, working for a tv station, or even filmmaking.
The past three years, the prize has been awarded to students who showed tremendous drive and initiative, which are key attributes that the deciding committee looks for in a recipient. The first recipient of the scholarship was Dylan Metsch-Ampel (Bates College ‘19), followed by Eli Zeger (MHS ‘16, who was attending Goucher College but will be transferring to another school for the fall), and Simone Rembert (Vassar College ‘21). We caught up with Simone, who shared her thoughts on the significance of this recognition.
“Receiving the scholarship last year meant a lot to me. I was greatly honored to be recognized for the work I’d produced in high school and motivated to continue Clem’s legacy— one of truth, creativity, and integrity. I’m now at Vassar College where I study English. I write comedy with my campus sketch group and publish essays through platforms like Rookie Mag and Crybaby Zine. Ideally, I’d like to end up working in media, prompting public discourse and discovery in the thoughtful way Clem Taylor did throughout his career.”
The Montclair Dispatch spoke with Hilary Rosenthal Taylor, Clem’s widow, about what the scholarship means to her, and how she and the organizing committee found a way to turn sorrow into hope. “The idea came from friends who wanted to honor Clem. Once we landed on the idea of a scholarship in his name, we decided to go through the high school and the Montclair Scholarship Fund. It feels great to see a deserving student get extra help financially. All the recipients still communicate with me and are doing really well. It makes me proud to know that we may have helped in some way.”
This year, the Clem Taylor Journalism scholarship was awarded to Maia Mizrahi (University of Southern California ‘22), who plans on pursuing film in college. “I am planning on studying Film and Television Production at USC and I want the stories I tell to be ones that are not often portrayed on screen. The award means a lot to me as I want to be able to be as influential in the field of filmmaking as [Clem Taylor] was in journalism.”
The Montclair Dispatch also spoke with Montclair resident and CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod. Jim was a longtime friend and colleague of Clem and is one of the original founding members of the scholarship. He is also on the decision committee.
“There’s never been a time when it’s been more important for citizens to have access to factual information about our country and the world. Clem personified the type of journalist that we need in the world today. We’re trying to build the next generation of “Clems,” the next generation of people who stand for objective news. We are looking for candidates who are curious, who read, write, and think, and who are always looking for something to learn. We are looking for people who want to help the country by producing quality work.”
Now, as my byline might suggest (although Taylor is a fairly common last name), Clem Taylor is my father. To watch the idea of this award actually become realized has been remarkable. As a 2017 Montclair High School graduate, this scholarship is even more meaningful. All of the winners of the Clem Taylor scholarship have more than lived up to the amazing traits of my dad, especially displaying determination, ambition, and curiosity. I am proud of the way that my family and friends have chosen to share my father’s legacy while benefiting the next generation of journalists. Thanks to my dad, I grew up in a household where the news, storytelling, and journalism and media of all kinds were unavoidable. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
The author of the article is a Montclair native class of 2017, currently a student at McGill University, studying history and communications within the Faculty of Arts.
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