MURFREESBORO — The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame inducted six veteran journalists into its second class Tuesday afternoon during ceremonies at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.
The inductions were held during the 60th annual conference of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters. The Hall of Fame is an independent partner with MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, which houses the hall in its Center for Innovation in Media inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building on the MTSU campus.
The 2014 honorees were:
- Joe Birch, longtime co-anchor, WMC-TV Action News 5, Memphis. A veteran lead anchor for 35 years, Birch is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has been recognized for his community work. He exposed sex dens being operated in abandoned schools and became a hero of and for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a prolific fundraising advocate.
- Bob Johnson, retired co-anchor of WTVC-TV News, Chattanooga. A veteran journalist of 45 years, Johnson reported from the scene of stories as diverse as the 1988 Moscow summit between the U.S. and Russia and the space shuttle’s first flight after the 1986 Challenger explosion.
- Alex S. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner, The New York Times. Jones is the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and also holds the school’s Laurence M. Lombard Chair in the Press and Public Policy. His family owns the Greeneville Sun in Greeneville, Tennessee, which is part of the Jones Media Network.
- Luther Masingill, WDEF Radio/TV, Chattanooga. Masingill is the world’s longest-serving radio announcer working at the same station. He is the only announcer to have reported on-air both the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the 2011 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.
- Otis Sanford, longtime former reporter, editor, columnist, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis. Sanford now holds the Helen and Jabie Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economics/Managerial Journalism in the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. He is a nationally recognized speaker on journalism ethics, education and the First Amendment.
- Sam Venable, columnist, Knoxville News Sentinel. Venable has also written 12 books featuring his wit and unique look at life and contributed to many other books as well. He is the winner of more than three-dozen national and regional writing awards.
The Hall of Fame’s bylaws note that its inductees represent “those who have made significant and substantial contributions to the journalism profession.” Honorees may be living or deceased native Tennesseans who spent much of their career in state or out of state, or non-natives who spent a substantial part of their career in Tennessee.
WSMV-TV Channel 4 anchor Demetria Kalodimos served as master of ceremonies for the ceremony.
The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame’s inaugural honorees, inducted in April 2013, were Chris Clark, retired chief news anchor for WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5; Anne Holt, a 30-year veteran and three-time Emmy winner at WKRN-TV News 2; the late Dan Miller, longtime chief news anchor and multiple Emmy Award winner at Nashville’s WSMV-TV Channel 4; the late John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean and founding editorial director of USA Today; Dean Stone, editor of The Daily Times in Maryville and former president of the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors; and William Bryant “Bill” Williams Jr., publisher emeritus of the Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer.
To be considered by the Hall of Fame’s board for induction, individuals must have distinguished themselves through news or business management, leadership in the industry, or in the ordinary practice of journalism. Those whose contributions have been recognized by their peers in other venues also may be considered. Inductees can include reporters, writers, editors, publishers, news directors and other managers, as well as those who have excelled in advertising or public relations and journalism, advertising and PR education.
For more information about the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, visit its website at http://www.tnjournalismhof.org or contact Hooper Penuel, TJHOF secretary, at 615-347-1672.