Induction gala, book, documentary to highlight Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary

Edmond, Oklahoma – Ten journalists, two Lifetime Achievement Award winners, and 10 posthumous inductees will be honored during the special 50th anniversary gala and banquet of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
The gala will be at 6 p.m. Friday, April 24, at the Oklahoma History Center.

“The 50th anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate the many historic accomplishments of journalists who have made an impact in Oklahoma and nationwide,” said Joe Hight, director, and Edith Kinney Gaylord Endowed Chair of Journalism Ethics at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hall, the selection committee decided to not only have a regular class of 10 inductees but to honor 10 posthumously for only the second time in the hall’s history.”

The hall of fame inductees are Clytie Bunyan, director of Business & Lifestyles at The Oklahoman; Al Eschbach, longtime reporter, sports director and talk radio host on WWLS; Rusty Ferguson, publisher of The Cleveland American, The Hominy News-Progress, and owner of the Pawnee Chief; Lori Fullbright, longtime reporter for KOTV/Tulsa News on 6; Rochelle Hines, 22-year reporter for The Associated Press; Michael McNutt, reporter and editor for more than 30 years at The Oklahoman; Michael Sims, executive director at ABC News and general manager of the Network News Service; Tony Stizza, photojournalist for more than 25 years at KTVY and KFOR; Scott Thompson, longtime news anchor at KOTV/Tulsa; and Yvette Walker, assistant dean for student affairs at OU’s Gaylord College.

Posthumous recipients are B.A. Bridgewater, sports editor at the Tulsa World for 37 years; Tim Chavez, business writer, TV columnist, and syndicated political columnist; Charles Cagle, publisher, general manager and advertising representative for Neighbor Newspapers in suburban Tulsa; John A. Ferguson, Jr., sports writer for the Tulsa World for almost 50 years; Don Gammill, The Oklahoman editor and columnist; Helen Holmes, reporter, teacher and former Guthrie mayor; William E. Lehmann, Guthrie Daily Leader publisher and community leader; Marjorie Paxson, longtime reporter and editor for multiple publications; Andrew J. Smitherman, African American press pioneer and owner of the Tulsa Star; and William Russell Moore, war correspondent who gave his life helping wounded American soldiers in Korea .

Two Lifetime Achievement Awards will be awarded to Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, for his state leadership and influence as an author; and to Robert (Bob) K. Goodwin, of The Oklahoma Eagle for his community leadership, and national service in civil rights.

“All of these journalists, including the two Lifetime Achievement honorees, have contributed to the rich journalistic heritage in this state and nation. They range from important community leaders to journalism pioneers and innovators to a war hero. I’m proud of this year’s selections,” he said.

The anniversary gala will feature keynote speaker Bob Dotson, a hall of fame NBC journalist and New York Times best-selling author; an appearance by Will Rogers; and welcome from UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar. Masters of ceremonies will be Mark Thomas, executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, and Vance Harrison, president of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters.
In honor of the event, each member of the hall of fame will receive a commemorative 50th anniversary gift.

Also, “Oklahoma’s Greatest Journalists,” a hard-cover coffee table book written with essays, stories, vignettes and photos, will be available to order beforehand for $35 plus shipping, Hight said. Other improvements also will be made to the Hall of Fame in UCO’s Nigh University Center as well as to the website at
Invitations to the gala will go out by the end of February, and reservations at $50 each must be made by April 3. Because of the larger than usual crowd expected, late reservations may not be able to be honored, Hight said. The public is invited to attend. Send an email to Hight at if you are interested in receiving an invitation or attending.

“Now more than ever, we need to honor and appreciate the contributions of journalists and the important role they play in our country. Journalists have been and will be on the frontline of protecting our First Amendment freedoms,” said Hight, who is also Edith Kinney Gaylord chair of journalism ethics at UCO.
Hight said a 10-member selection committee, mostly hall of fame members, selected this year’s honorees.

The Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame was founded in 1971 by former UCO Journalism Chairman Dr. Ray Tassin. He was followed by Dennie Hall as director. Hight is the fourth director and succeeded Dr. Terry Clark, who retired three years ago and now serves as a consultant. 
This year’s inductees total 468 total members and six Lifetime Achievement honorees, all of whom are featured on the hall of fame website ( Past honoree plaques are on display at the Hall of Fame.

NOTE: Patrick B. McGuigan, publisher/editor of The City Sentinel newspaper and founder of CapitolBeatOK, an online news service, was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2015.