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Niederpruem and Grimes awarded Wells Memorial Key, Society’s highest honor


Bobby Deckard, SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317/927-8000 ext. 215 or bdeckard@spj.org

Indianapolis – The Society of Professional Journalists honored Kyle Niederpruem and Julie Grimes with its highest honor, the Wells Memorial Key.

Niederpruem and Grimes accepted their awards at the President’s Installation Banquet on Sept. 14 during the 2002 SPJ National Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. The occasion marked the first time since 1985 and only the fourth time in SPJ history that the Society has awarded multiple Wells Keys in the same year. The Wells Key recognizes meritorious service to the Society and the journalism profession.

“Convention is in Texas this year,” Al Cross, outgoing SPJ national president, said during the banquet. “And because we are in Texas, we have to do things twice as big.”

Niederpruem was instrumental in helping move SPJ’s national headquarters from Greencastle, Ind., to Indianapolis and in implementing a comprehensive strategic plan for the Society. In addition to “drafting” future leaders of SPJ, Niederpruem has dedicated countless hours to steering the Society’s freedom of information efforts and promoting ethical journalism practices.

Niederpruem has served the Society as SPJ national president (1999-2000), SPJ national secretary-treasurer, a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board of directors, chairwoman of the SPJ Strategic Planning Committee, chairwoman of the National FOI Committee, and president of the Indiana Pro Chapter. Niederpruem was recently appointed SPJ Chapter Doctor and will assist SPJ chapters by providing them with the resources and contacts they need to remain viable. She is a past recipient of the SPJ President’s Award for Distinguished Service and the SPJ Sunshine Award.

“To describe Kyle in a word, I choose ‘driven’,” said Cross. “She has long been one of SPJ’s most committed volunteers. When she took on a project, it was going to be completed and it was going to be completed on time.”

A graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Niederpruem has been a reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. Niederpruem spent most of her career at one newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, where she worked for 19 years, including two years as assistant city editor. Her professional career began with four years at The Anderson (Ind.) Herald. She currently serves as Vice President/Senior Media Specialist for Hirons & Company headquartered in Bloomington, Ind.

Niederpruem also founded FOIndiana and her professional work has been recognized and honored by many organizations.

“Our second Wells Key recipient is one of those people you can call at any hour of the night – at the office of course – and expect to find her there,” said Cross. “(Julie) is different from most past winners because she is actually on the Society’s payroll.”

Grimes joined the SPJ national headquarters staff shortly after graduating from Troy State University in Troy, Ala. She has served in various capacities during her tenure with SPJ, ranging from communications to programming to her current role as deputy executive director.

In the seven years that she’s been involved with the Society, Grimes has been a stabilizing influence. She has worked with a handful of executive directors, educated and oriented staff and volunteers and assisted in the headquarters move. Grimes is also a past recipient of the SPJ President’s Award for Distinguished Service.

“She takes this organization to heart in a way that few others do,” noted Cross. “Julie ‘adopts’ every board member, chapter leader and staff member by making their problems her own. It is because of her passion that she is so deserving of the Society’s highest honor.”

The Wells Memorial Key was first presented in 1913. The award was named in honor of Chester A. Wells, Sigma Delta Chi’s second national president. Wells died in office in 1913 at the age of 26. Wells’ brief time in office was marked by an inspiring dedication to the work and ideals of Sigma Delta Chi, and after his death, members decided to award a jeweled key each year in his memory to a member who had performed meritorious service to the Society.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. 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.


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