UK honors nine at Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame induction ceremony


Journalism professor Mike Farrell thanked the University of Kentucky Journalism Alumni Association during his induction into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame at The Grand Reserve in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, April 28, 2017. FILE PHOTO

Kat Manouchehri

Friends, family, faculty, distinguished alumni and UK journalism school students gathered at The Grand Reserve on Friday afternoon to induct nine new members into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

The 2017 inductees included Tom Butler (posthumous induction), Paducah’s WPSD-TV news vice president, Lewis Conn (posthumous induction) and William E. Matthews, co-founders of the Kentucky Weekly Newspaper Association, Ron Daley, former editor and publisher of the Troublesome Creek Times in Hindman, Professor Mike Farrell, UK journalism professor and director of its Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, Bill Francis, former reporter and anchor for WDRB-TV, Mary D. Ferguson (posthumous induction), the first female reporter for Hopkinsville’s Kentucky New Era in 1962, Bettye Lee Mastin, former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter, and Joe Palmer (posthumous induction), racing editor of the New York Herald Tribune.

Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Director and journalism professor Al Cross conducted the 37th Annual Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony. 

Each inductee made a brief speech about their careers in journalism and the ways of the profession today. Family members accepted the awards on behalf of the late recipients.

“I am convinced journalism is alive and well, and just as important as ever,” Farrell said. “Even in Kentucky, where the governor doesn’t believe he owes the public answers to tough questions, and prefers softballs from supporters, journalism is vibrant.”

The building was silent as each crowded table listened to the inductees speak about their past experiences in journalism and their proud accomplishments.

“I was one of those people who made a living doing exactly what I always wanted to do,” Francis said. “For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a journalist.” 

Each member of the crowd laughed at the “inside jokes” of journalists like the starting salaries of green reporters. However, the passion from each inductee shined throughout their acceptance speeches.

“In the beginning, I would have worked for free. From the looks of my first paychecks, I practically did,” Francis said.

Cross made the closing remarks and warranted a heavy round of applause.

“We must not only recognize great journalists; we must defend our craft.”