Three cheers for Indiana journalists

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By Steve Key
Hoosier State Press Association

It was a celebration of all that’s good about Indiana journalism.

Nearly 250 publishers, photographers, editors and reporters gathered at the Indianapolis Marriott North for HSPA Foundation’s annual Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest Awards Luncheon.

The level of talent that was recognized with more than 100 awards makes me proud to be associated with the Hoosier State Press Association.

I also get a little jealous – particularly of the photographers.

Photography was never my strong suit during my years as a journalist.

Even loading a roll of film into the camera was a challenge for me. But I appreciate the beauty and power of a good photo.

HSPA Foundation also honored newspapers that met the challenge of explaining and chronicling life-changing news event, such as the collapse of the stage at the Indiana State Fair, the tornado that devastated Henryville and other southern Indiana communities, and the death of a child whose family was involved with the Indiana Department of Child Services.

I can attest that the talented writers who work at my city’s newspaper this year have made me cry, laugh and fume.

Seeing the collection of talent interact Saturday during the morning educational seminars and then be recognized at the awards luncheon is pretty heady stuff.

Seeing what the awards mean to some of the winners is especially sweet.

Pat Lanman, who is never at a loss for words, struggled to express how humbled he felt at receiving the Charlie Biggs Commitment to Community Award.

Lanman, who puts out two weekly newspapers in Vevay, Ind., had a quaver to his voice I’ve never heard before.

Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, editor of The Corydon Democrat, was wiping tears from her face as she came to the stage to accept the paper’s Blue Ribbon award for the best nondaily newspaper in the state.

It all reminds me of the dedication so many journalists bring to their jobs every day and how poorer their communities would be without them.

I walked away from the event with an extra bounce in my step just from being part of this wonderful fraternity.

For those who couldn’t make it this year, we hope to see you in 2013.

Mark the first Saturday in December on your calendar as a day to spend with people who understand what thrills and frustrates you and what makes you want to be a journalist.

It will rejuvenate you.

Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for HSPA.