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Bill Ketter named Wells Memorial Key recipient, SPJ’s highest honor


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards,
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Coordinator,

LAS VEGAS – The Society of Professional Journalists honors Bill Ketter with the Wells Memorial Key. This award is the highest honor for an SPJ member. Ketter has been a member of SPJ for 62 years and is an outstanding leader in the Society.

Ketter began his SPJ leadership roles as vice president of the New England Pro Chapter in 1971 and went on to serve as president of the chapter. He was also chair of the New England Academy of Journalists, which was created by SPJNE, and served two terms as the Region 1 Coordinator before turning his attention to climbing the ladder at the American Society of Newspaper Editors – he served as president of ASNE in 1995.

During the early 1990s, Ketter prevented the New England chapter from folding. He was able to raise $50,000 to ensure that the chapter and its great achievements would live on. Ketter has also spent the last two decades volunteering his time as a member of the SPJ Foundation Board.

“It has been our great pleasure to serve with Bill on the Foundation board for many years. His wisdom and breadth of top-tier experience gives him a powerful and authoritative voice in Foundation meetings. When he speaks, everyone listens,” said a nomination letter from 20 SPJ leaders, including past presidents and Foundation board members.

“For decades, Bill Ketter has been one of the nation’s most respected and admired journalists, and this award would be a fitting tribute by an organization he has served and loved throughout that exemplary career… He is a repository of wisdom and principle, and someone I consider to be one of the Foundation’s and the Society’s top and most influential leaders,” said SPJ Foundation Board Member Alex Jones.

He also supports SPJ nationally through auctioning off excursions on his sailboat to the SPJ Legal Defense Fund, and this past year, Ketter offered to match up to $500 in gifts made on SPJ Day of Giving.

“While all of these well documented aspects of Bill’s career and service to the Society, to the Foundation and to his surrounding community are testimony of his worthiness of the Wells Key, what speaks even more loudly is that his efforts and longstanding devotion continue to inspire young journalists to support SPJ in the spirit of improving and protecting journalism,” said past SPJ president Christine Tatum.

Ketter was honored at the President’s Award Banquet at the SPJ23 Journalism Convention, SPJ’s annual convention.

Named for Chester C. Wells, the second president of the Society, the Wells Memorial Key is awarded to an SPJ member who has performed outstanding service to the Society in the preceding year or through a period of years.

Read more about the selection process and previous winners.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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