Hall inducts new members, awards service prize

This story was posted on April 29, 2012.

Photo by Ann Schertz
CBS' Steve Kroft talked about his Kokomo roots during his address. Five others also were honored.

A newspaper reporter whose investigations led to policy change, an intrepid news magazine broadcaster, a pioneering female columnist, a renowned media researcher, and a newspaper executive and industry advocate are the newest members of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

The organization honored its 2012 inductees and the recipient of its newest award during ceremonies April 28 at the Indiana Memorial Union on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.

The newest members are:

  • The late Mark Ferree, a longtime senior executive of the Scripps-Howard newspaper company who was a national free press advocate as president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association in 1960-62;
  • Skip Hess, who spearheaded numerous prominent investigative projects during more than 30 years as a reporter for the Indianapolis News and Indianapolis Star;
  • Steve Kroft, a native of Kokomo, Ind., who has been a correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes for more than two decades;
  • The late Kate Milner Rabb, an author, historian and pioneering newspaper columnist;
  • David Weaver, an Indiana University professor whose research on working journalists and on agenda setting in media have gained notoriety.

The group presented its inaugural Distinguished Service Award to Walt Tabak, who spent 25 years providing technical support to Indiana newspapers that receive The Associated Press.

Board president Ray Moscowitz and hall of fame executive director Larry Taylor kicked off the ceremony, then introduced board member Lee Giles, former news director at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, to emcee the induction.

For each inductee, the hall of fame presented a video illustrating the person’s accomplishments, then the honoree or his or her family accepted the awards.

Paul Stevens, former AP bureau chief in Indianapolis, talked about Tabak, who was in the audience with family members. He recalled Tabak’s dedication to keeping all member newspapers online, even if it meant Tabak had to drive across the state in all sorts of weather to do so. Tabak also helped newspapers convert to technologies that changed frequently over the years.

Ferree’s family members accepted on his behalf, and his great-nephew talked about Ferree’s love of both the newspaper industry and IU, which awarded Ferree an honorary degree. Kevin Harris even showed a pin his “Uncle Mark” had given him that touted IU’s 1981 basketball championship. Harris also recounted Ferree's and seven other newspapermen's refusal to censor the news during the early 1960s Cold War era.

Photo by Ann Schertz
For 25 years, Walt Tabak kept member newspapers online for The Associated Press. He is the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

Skip Hess talked about several stories from his long career as an Indianapolis Star reporter. Several of the people who nominated Hess were in the audience, and many of his anecdotes involved those in attendance. But he also ended his talk comparing the hall of fame membership with the Pulitzer Prize, and said he values the hall of fame honors more because of all the other Hoosier journalists who are members.

CBS’ Steve Kroft made a one-day trip to Bloomington just to accept his prize. The Kokomo native talked about his Indiana roots and pride in his Midwestern upbringing, which he said served him well as he crafted a 40-year career in broadcast, half of it at 60 Minutes.

The great-grandchildren of Kate Milner Rabb accepted the award on behalf of the writer whose 1920s-30s era column in the Indianapolis Star was a “must-read.” Julia Rabb Whitley said she hadn’t known much about her great-grandmother until recently, but was sure Rabb would have been honored by this induction.

IU Professor Emeritus David Weaver also drew on his Indiana heritage as he addressed the audience. He has spent nearly all his life in the state, and most of it as a student or professor at IU. He said he has been lucky for the support of the three deans he has worked for at the IU School of Journalism, and he acknowledged his colleagues in the audience for their support.

Taylor summed up the day by announcing that nominations for the 2013 awards are now open, with a deadline of Oct. 1. All materials are on the website.

The Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, founded in 1966, now includes more than 200 members. It is housed at the Indiana University School of Journalism’s Ernie Pyle Hall.


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