Herbert R. Hill · 1988
As a young boy living in Irvington in 1916, the late Herb Hill rubbed elbows with many of his neighbors, including one who happened to be city editor of the Indianapolis Times. It wasn’t long before the Shortridge High School sophomore was stringing for the Indianapolis News. After only three weeks, Herb went on salary and rolled up his sleeves at the sports desk, where he did rewrite and makeup.
“I was like a stage-struck kid,” said Herb, recalling the days when he rose early in order to get to work at 6 a.m. He then rushed to class at Shortridge at 9 a.m., often returning in the afternoon for more work at the News.
Herb went to school with the governor’s daughter, who suggested her father might be interested in hearing about Herb’s job at the paper. The result of their meeting was one of his first bylines, a story about the beginning of the Indiana State Park System.
Education was extremely important to him and Herb enrolled at Butler University while still working at the News. He graduated from Butler in 1922, got married and traveled to New York to attend the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia. During the week, Herb worked for United Press. On weekends, he devoted his talents to Associated Press.
Upon returning to Indianapolis, Butler officials asked Herb if he had kept his classroom notes from Columbia. He responded that he still had his notebooks and the officials asked him to teach journalism classes at the University. Herb continued teaching at Butler until he was appointed assistant managing editor of the Indianapolis News.
Herb Hill made the most of his time in New York, developing media contacts and stringing for several newspapers. He resumed stringing after returning to Indianapolis and worked for several papers, including the New York World, The New York Times, The New York Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star and The Los Angeles Tribune.
At age 25, Herb was appointed news editor and head of the News copy desk. In 1934, he was asked to travel to Europe and cover the news for the paper. One of his major stories was the funeral of German President Paul von Hindenburg. In London, he worked briefly for the London Express, covering a broad range of stories such as a trunk murder and cricket matches.
Herb returned to Indianapolis later that year and helped redesign the News. For the next several years, he was responsible for page one makeup of the News’ home edition.
Herb later was appointed managing editor of the News, and as the nation headed for war he was concerned with news judgment and how the News would portray World War II. “My philosophy was that people in Indianapolis didn’t have to buy The New York Times to get an intelligent portrayal of the war. They could buy the News,” Herb said.
Following the war, Herb began writing a daily news analysis, often waiting until deadline so his writing would be fresh and up to the minute. The analysis was followed by an editorial column, which he wrote for many years.
In 1950, Herb left the News to handle public relations for the state Republican Party. That was the start of more than 30 years of dedicated service to the State of Indiana and millions of Hoosiers. In 1966, Herb became director of the Public Information and Education Division of the Department of Natural Resources. His contact with the public through media programs has helped the progress of natural resources management immensely.
Herb saw the pride Hoosiers take in their state and its natural resources. He revived the Department of Natural Resources’ magazine, Outdoor Indiana, and became editor in 1968. He has written hundreds of articles on Indiana history, our state parks, wildlife management programs and many more. Several schools throughout the state subscribe to the magazine and Herb’s articles have been widely used as a classroom resource.
In addition to the many positions Herb has held, he also served on the board of directors for the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
From a neighborhood kid with a fledgling interest in journalism who ran back and forth between the newspaper and high school, to a foreign correspondent and managing editor, Herb Hill has furthered the printed word in Indiana. His 60 years are marked by the respect of his fellow workers and the highest professionalism.