Annual Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and Creason Lecture celebrate accomplished journalists


Travis Fannon

The Inductees poser for a photo during the 43rd Annual Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and Creason Lecture 2023 Friday, March 31, 2023, at the Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Laurel Swanz, Staff Reporter

The Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame welcomed five new inductees on Friday, March 31 in the Gatton Student Center. 

The Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame recognizes exemplary journalists who were born in Kentucky or have established themselves in Kentucky and whose work has benefited it in some way.

Before the induction ceremony, James Fallows delivered the annual Joe Creason Lecture. 

Fallows is a known writer, editor and broadcast commentator. His many accomplishments include co-authoring the book “Our Towns” with his wife, Deborah, which was a national bestseller and the basis of an HBO Documentary of the same name.

The Creason Lecture is named for Joe Creason, a journalist and UK alum known for telling the stories of Kentuckians before his untimely death in 1974. It honors his memory by bringing prominent journalists to Lexington.

These events usually occur separately from one another, but UK College of Communication and Information Dean Jennifer Greer said she thought it made sense to combine them.

“This year we combined both of those because we thought the journalists in the room would love to hear Fallows speak and Fallows would love to see the accomplishments of our journalists,” Greer said. “Bringing these two events together gives us a great forum to talk about the role of journalism in a democratic society and how what everybody in this room does impacts our daily lives”

Fallows focused on “the state of journalism today” in his 15-minute speech, referencing the State of the Union addresses he once wrote for President Jimmy Carter.

“The state of journalism now, I am here to tell you, is deeply troubled, and in rapid transition, and full of possibilities,” Fallows said. “That exact combination has been true of journalism at every single stage in its history. The question is how to recognize the troubles, recognize the transitions and seize the possibilities.”

Fallows touched on current issues regarding military, environment, economy and technology in relation to journalism in his speech.

“This is one of many times when journalism has to do its job,” Fallows said. “The only way we know about the environment, the only way to have any sense beyond our own immediate sensory experience is if people in our business do our job.”

After Fallows  delivered the Creason Lecture, this year’s Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductees received their awards and spoke to the crowd, reflecting on their careers and thanking those who helped them along the way. 

UK Journalism Alumni Association President Duane Bonifer presented the awards.

“More than 200 individuals have been inducted into the hall of fame,” Bonifer said. “The hall recognizes journalists with and without formal ties to the University of Kentucky who practiced the craft of journalism and made it a true art. We are honored to recognize the members of this year’s Hall of Fame class.”

Sam Dick, Lexington’s longest-running evening anchor, was the first to be inducted. Dick spent 34 years covering big stories, personality features and major disasters and events at WKYT-TV. He shared the values he stuck to over the course of his career in his speech.

“Honesty, fairness, balance, pursuit of the truth, holding the powerful accountable, respect and compassion: these are things that I try to live by in writing and being a broadcast journalist and also as a print journalist online,” Dick said. 

John Fetterman was inducted posthumously and his award was accepted by his daughter, Mindy Fetterman. He was best known for writing “Pfc. Gibson Comes Home” in Louisville’s Courier-Journal, which won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.

His daughter, also a working journalist, expressed respect for her father’s personal approach to journalism in her acceptance speech. 

“My dad didn’t focus on, you know, nailing somebody, but on the power of the personal, the stories of little people,” Fetterman said. “The journalism of John Fetterman is dated today. Few reporters just pull up a chair and sit on a porch and talk.”

Inductee Kimberly K. Greene is best known for her advocacy for the First Amendment and her creation of a Freedom of Information hotline, a tool journalists can use to get expert advice regarding law in journalism. 

“I am so grateful for this recognition for doing something I absolutely loved doing,” Greene said. “I’m really excited that this is happening right here on the UK campus where I went to law school, which was really kind of the beginning of all this for me.”

Dave Kindred was inducted for his commended work in sportswriting. His career began at the Courier-Journal in Louisville and is marked by accomplishments including being awarded the National Sportswriter of the Year in 1977 and the Best Sports Columnist in America in 1984. 

Kindred shared anecdotes from his career, including many interactions with boxing legend Muhammad Ali. 

William Warley was the last to be inducted posthumously on Friday night. He co-founded The Louisville News in 1912, which served the city’s Black community at a time when they were overlooked in the media. 

Warley worked closely with I. Willis Cole, founder of the Black newspaper, The Louisville Leader. Cole’s granddaughter Nora Cole accepted the award for Warley, sharing the story of her grandfather and Warley working together to bring unjust legal lynchings to light in 1926. 

“Warley was willing to jeopardize a relatively comfortable career to achieve racial equity,” Cole said. 

At the end of the night, Bonifer thanked those who made the evening possible and all in attendance.