OKLAHOMA CITY — Ten journalists, two Lifetime Achievement Award winners and 10 posthumous inductees — including two with ties to the Enid News & Eagle — will be honored during the special 50th anniversary gala and banquet of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
The gala will be 6 p.m. April 24, 2020, at Oklahoma History Center.
“The 50th anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate the many historic accomplishments of journalists who have made an impact in Oklahoma and nationwide,” said Joe Hight, director and Edith Kinney Gaylord Endowed Chair of Journalism Ethics at the University of Central Oklahoma. “To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hall, the selection committee decided to not only have a regular class of 10 inductees but to honor 10 posthumously for only the second time in the hall’s history.”
Hall of fame inductees are Clytie Bunyan, coordinator of the internship program and staff development at The Oklahoman; Al Eschbach, longtime reporter, sports director and talk radio host on WWLS; Rusty Ferguson, publisher of The Cleveland American, The Hominy News-Progress, and owner of the Pawnee Chief; LoriFullbright, longtime reporter for KOTV/Tulsa News on 6; Rochelle Hines, 22-year reporter for The Associated Press; Michael McNutt, capitol beat reporter for more than 30 years at The Oklahoman; Michael Sims, executive director at ABC News and general manager of the National News Service; Tony Stizza, photojournalist for more than 25 years at KTVY and KFOR; Scott Thompson, longtime news anchor at KOTV/Tulsa; and Yvette Walker, assistant dean for student affairs at OU’s Gaylord College.
Posthumous recipients are B.A. Bridgewater, sports editor at theTulsa World for 37 years; Tim Chavez, business writer, TV columnist, and syndicated political columnist; Charles Cagle, publisher, general manager and advertising representative for Neighbor Newspapers in suburban Tulsa; John A. Ferguson, Jr., sports writer for the Tulsa World for almost 50 years; Don Gammill, The Oklahoman editor and columnist; Helen Holmes, reporter, teacher and former Guthrie mayor; William E. Lehmann, Guthrie Daily Leader publisher and community leader; Marjorie Paxson, longtime reporter and editor for multiple publications; Andrew J. Smitherman, African American press pioneer and owner of the Tulsa Star; and William Russell Moore, war correspondent who gave his life helping wounded American soldiers in Korea.
McNutt and Gammill also worked for the Enid News & Eagle.
Two Lifetime Achievement Awards will be awarded to Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of Oklahoma Historical Society, for his state leadership and influence as an author; and to Robert (Bob) K. Goodwin, of The Oklahoma Eagle for his community leadership, and national service in civil rights.
The anniversary gala will feature keynote speaker Bob Dotson, a hall of fame NBC journalist and New York Times best-selling author; an appearance by Will Rogers; and welcome from UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar. Masters of ceremonies will be Mark Thomas, executive director of Oklahoma Press Association, and Vance Harrison, president of Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters.
“Oklahoma’s Greatest Journalists,” a hard-cover coffee table book written with essays, stories, vignettes and photos, will be available to order beforehand for $35 plus shipping, Hight said.
Invitations to the gala will go out by the end of February, and reservations at $50 each must be made by April 3. Because of the larger than usual crowd expected, late reservations may not be able to be honored, Hight said.
Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame was founded in 1971 by former UCO Journalism Chairman Dr. Ray Tassin. He was followed by Dennie Hall as director. Hight is the fourth director and succeeded Dr. Terry Clark, who retired three years ago and now serves as a consultant.