Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame honors the class of 2022 inductees


Jack Weaver

Duane Bonifer, president of UK’s Journalism Alumni Association, speaks during the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Morgan Loy, Reporter

After two years online, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame hosted an in-person induction ceremony on Sept. 22 in the Gatton Student Center Ballroom.

Director of UK’s School of Journalism and Media Erika Engstrom welcomed the eight inductees and introduced the first speaker of the night, Dean of the College of Communication and Information Dr. Jennifer Greer.

Greer expressed excitement for being able to attend her first in-person Journalism Hall of Fame induction as Dean.

“What a joy for us to be all back together in a room, and seeing each other’s faces without masks, and feeling like we can gather again,” she said. “What a joy to be here.”

Greer is the first dean of the College of Communication and Information with a journalism background.

“I will tell you that I am a former journalist myself, although I would correct myself in saying, nobody is ever a former journalist; it gets in our blood and it sticks there forever. I called myself last week a non-practicing journalist, which I think is a more accurate description,” she said.

The president of UK’s Journalism Alumni Association, Duane Bonifer, presented the inductees and read an introduction of each journalist’s awards and achievements before they gave their acceptance speeches.

Bonifer poked fun at the recent “Basketball vs. Football School” debate at UK during his introduction of the event.

“I think they both missed the point,” he said. “The University of Kentucky is neither a football nor a basketball school. It is clearly a journalism school.”

Each journalist honored displayed their clear ties to Kentucky and how journalism has shaped their lives.

“My Kentucky roots are dug in like an acre of kudzu,” Scott Applewhite, a senior Associated Press photojournalist and Elizabethtown native, said during his acceptance speech.

Jerry Brewer, a Paducah native and national sports columnist for the Washington Post since 2015, said of his career, “I was born to be a journalist. I never had a single job outside of this profession.”

Three of the eight inductees were inducted posthumously. These three include news anchor and reporter Melissa Forsythe, publisher John B. Gaines and reporter and editor Bill Mardis.

Forsythe’s former co-worker, Doug Proffitt, alongside Forsythe’s sister, Cynthia Gibbs, accepted Forsythe’s induction in her honor. Forsythe was the first woman to co-anchor a newscast in Louisville.

The son of John B. Gaines, John Pipe Gaines, accepted his father’s induction. John B. Gaines spent 60 years as the publisher and president of the Bowling Green Daily News.

Bill Mardis’s son, Steve Mardis, also accepted his father’s induction, when he gave a message for the journalists in the room.

“Don’t retire; you are needed. Keep writing; you are our future,” he said. “If you keep doing that, it would be a great honor to my family and to my father.”

Bill Mardis was an editor and reporter for the Somerset Commonwealth Journal in Pulaski County.

Writer and editor Mark Maynard and sports editor Stuart Warner told humorous stories of the jobs that inspired them to become and continue to be journalists and those who helped them along the way.

Warner offered a piece of advice to the practicing journalists and students in the room that a mentor had once given him: “Good enough is never good enough. Don’t settle.”

Investigator and writer Deborah Yetter echoed similar sentiments of encouraging her fellow journalists to keep reporting and writing. She wore a cicada pin and referenced a comment made by former governor Matt Bevin in which he referred to the press as cicadas. Yetter took this comment as a compliment.

“So all my fellow cicadas out there, keep up the good work and keep making the noise,” she said.

The Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame induction was an evening of celebrating journalists who have their origins or influence in Kentucky. Many of the journalists have previous accolades, including Pulitzer Prizes, and all holding numerous accomplishments throughout their careers as journalists.

Each inductee’s acceptance speech presented what the importance of journalism meant to them. Duane Bonifer also made note of this in his closing.

“Thanks again to all who made this event possible,” he said. “And most important of all, those whose lives and careers continue to help make society a more just, a more fair and a more equitable place for everyone.”