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Rebecca Tallent and Linda Hall receive Wells Memorial Key, SPJ's highest honor


Matthew Kent, Program Coordinator, 317-920-4788,
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785,

SAN ANTONIO – The Society of Professional Journalists honors Rebecca “Becky” Tallent and Linda Hall with the Wells Memorial Key. Tallent and Hall received this award, the highest honor for a member of SPJ, at the President’s Installation Banquet tonight during the Excellence in Journalism conference at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio.

Tallent is an award-winning journalist, public relations specialist and retired professor from the University of Idaho. Along with being a long-time member of SPJ, Tallent is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. The SPJ Executive Committee believes she is the first Native American to receive the Wells Key.

During her time at SPJ, Tallent has served on both the National Journalism Education and Diversity committees. In 2013, she was elected to the national SPJ Board of Directors as a Campus Adviser At-Large.

Tallent also spearheads the #Press4Education project, a collaboration of SPJ and the Journalism Education Association. It helps match professional journalists with K-12 classrooms to educate students on all things journalism. With her leadership, #Press4Education has reached hundreds of schools and thousands of students across the country.

“This program is life changing for students and it is essential for SPJ. Media literacy is key to SPJ’s mission and Becky is in the trenches making it happen,” the SPJ Executive Committee said. “This issue is core to our existence and the work she has done on it is phenomenal.”

Tallent has worked on the project since its inception but plans to hand it over to someone else later this year. She developed the curriculum which provides lesson plans, presentations and other resources to journalists who want to volunteer to share their knowledge. The journalists who have participated return talking about what a great program it is.

“Her work speaks to what is currently going on in this country and world. Media literacy and reaching out to non-journalists is now more important than ever, and Becky understands that,” the Executive Committee said. “Her passion and dedication have helped this program to succeed. Becky has put #Press4Education in a strong position to continue on for many years to come.”

While it is uncommon for two people to be given the Wells Key in the same year, it is less common for an SPJ staff member to be recognized. Hall is in her 14th year working at SPJ headquarters, since then, she has become an integral part of the Society. She’s worked in accounting, membership and in her current role as office manager. The Executive Committee said Hall is “a link between staff and leaders, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to laugh with.”

Hall’s interesting and varied career before SPJ included serving as a police officer and manager of a landfill.

"I've worked with Linda since she started here at SPJ 13 years ago. She is always friendly, helpful and goes the extra mile to help our members,” Director At-Large Lauren Bartlett said. “Even though she has been out of the membership role for a while, veteran SPJers still reach out to her because they know she will help, regardless of her job title. She is extremely committed to this organization, our members and journalism."

The only other staff member to be awarded the Wells Key was Julie Grimes in 2002, when it was also a tumultuous time for SPJ. Like Grimes, Hall has pulled things together in a time when there was a great need.

"Linda Hall has been the institutional knowledge, the calm in the storm, the voice of authority and the den mother of the staff during this time of transition at SPJ,” SPJ 2019-2020 National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry said. “No matter the task, she gets it done efficiently and with good cheer."

Named after Sigma Delta Chi’s second national president, Chester C. Wells, the Wells Memorial Key was first awarded in 1913. Each year, it is given to a member who has performed outstanding service to the Society in the preceding year or through a period of years.

A list of previous winners can be found here.

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