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Kevin Smith receives Wells Memorial Key, highest SPJ honor



Abbi Martzall, SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317-920-4791, amartzall@spj.org
Taylor Carlier, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, tcarlier@spj.org

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Smith, deputy director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University, has been awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor for a Society of Professional Journalists member. Smith received the award at the President’s Installation Banquet on Sept. 6 during the Excellence in Journalism conference in Nashville, Tenn.

“I think when you become president and you put efforts in on the committees, I’m not going to lie to you, I think all of us aspire to one day get this award … this is the most amazing honor,” Smith said in his speech.

The Wells Memorial Key was first awarded in 1913 to honor Chester Wells, the Society’s second national president, who died in office at age 26. It is awarded to a member for outstanding service to the Society during the preceding year or over a period of years.

As SPJ’s Ethics Committee Chairman, Smith has led the Society in two Code of Ethics revisions – 1996 and 2014. But his contributions to SPJ go far beyond these incredibly important, and herculean, tasks. Since joining as a student three decades ago, Smith has served SPJ as a chapter board member, chapter adviser, committee chair, national board member and national president, and later also contributed to two editions of the SPJ ethics book, “Doing Ethics in Journalism.”

"Kevin Smith has worked tirelessly for decades to improve the ethics and professionalism of journalism," SPJ President David Cuillier said. "When other people would buckle under the scrutiny and questioning, he has stood strong to do all he can to improve the Society.

In between his efforts to be an active part of SPJ, Smith worked in newsrooms as a reporter, editor and photographer for 20 years and eventually made his way into academia.

“He has been president, he worked to revise the code in the 1990s, he led the discussion this past year to update the code, he travels the world to improve journalism, and he has continuously helped the public and journalists work through ethical dilemmas,” Cuillier said. “I know of few people who are as passionate about good journalism as Kevin Smith."

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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