Journalism heritage runs deep here


By Steve Key
Hoosier State Press Association

Like a shot of caffeine, the 49th annual Newsroom Seminar gave me a positive jolt of energy.

The event honors the excellence of Indiana newspaper journalism – and there’s a lot to honor.

But I also get revved up just talking to reporters and editors who drove from all over the state through a thick morning fog Dec. 5 to make the seminar’s first educational session at 8:15 a.m.

It reminds me that journalism is a calling. Reporters know they aren’t getting rich, but they truly want to make their Indiana communities a better place to live through the stories they cover.

The examples of dedication presented themselves to me everywhere I turned.

There was the young woman who had driven to the event but mentioned she would be putting in an 18-hour day because she would be putting in a full shift back at her newspaper that evening.

There were the Ball State University journalism students, fresh off receiving a National Pacemaker Award for their student newspaper, who stayed at the awards luncheon long after the Indiana Collegiate Press Association awards were presented to soak up the experience of their professional peers being honored.

The questions asked of Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt and me during our session on the state’s public access laws showed that many reporters are pushing local officials to make available records so that critical questions can be asked about government decisions.

While Bob Zaltsberg, editor of The Herald-Times (Bloomington), and I read the winners in the numerous categories, I caught looks of surprise and joy when reporters heard their names called to receive an award.

I had a long conversation in the morning with Bill Cannon of the Journal & Courier (Lafayette) on his staff’s work to produce what turned out to be the HSPA Story of the Year Award winner.

His pride in what had been accomplished and the difference it made in the public’s perception of crime in his community was evident.

The whoop of joy from the Daily Journal (Franklin) contingent when they realized they had earned the Blue Ribbon Award for best daily newspaper in the state choked me up a little as I tried to read the judges’ comments on their work.

Recent years have presented plenty of gloomy news concerning journalism and the future of newspaper operations, but the Newsroom Seminar reminds me why I feel so lucky to be associated with the Hoosier State Press Association and proud to be part of our journalism heritage.

You know, I did work at the Daily Journal for a few years, so I felt a little like a proud alum.

Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.