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April 20, 2013

Elwood native among inductees for Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — An Elwood native who became a newspaper executive is among six Hoosiers who will be inducted Saturday into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

The late Lowell Mellett, who be inducted at a ceremony at Indiana University Bloomington, later became a top aide to President Franklin Roosevelt.

The selected six inductees were chosen to recognize their distinguished careers in newspaper or broadcast journalism or journalism education.

The start of Mellett’s journalism career included being sent by The Muncie Star as a 16-year-old to cover the 1900 Democratic National Convention.

He worked at several newspapers around the country and overseas during World War I before becoming editor of Collier’s Weekly and later editor of the Washington Daily News in the 1930s.

He held several posts in the Roosevelt administration before leaving government in 1944 to start writing what became a nationally syndicated newspaper column that continued until his retirement in 1956. He died in 1960.

Under Roosevelt, Mellett served as coordinator of government films and was known for supervising the film series “Why We Fight.” The seven films were to garner public support for U.S. involvement in World War II as well as show soldiers why they were fighting. Mellett, however, had misgivings for the series — directed by Frank Capra — and feared they could create a public hysteria.

Others to be inducted are:

• The late Joe Aaron, a longtime reporter and columnist for the Evansville Courier. Aaron joined the Courier in 1955 after working for newspapers in New Mexico, Montana and Virginia. He began writing a five-days-a-week column for the Courier in 1957, continuing until he died of a heart attack in 1986 at age 57.

• Melissa Farlow, a native of Paoli, who has been an award-winning photojournalist and a pioneer and mentor for women in the field. Farlow graduated from IU in 1973, after which she became a photographer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. Her work chronicling riots over court-ordered school desegregation helped the Courier-Journal win the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

• The late Jerry Lyst, who was The Indianapolis Star’s editorial page editor for nearly half of his 45 years with the newspaper. Lyst grew up in Indianapolis and joined The Star as a police reporter in 1955 after attending IU. He won numerous awards for his work as a Statehouse reporter, financial reporter and columnist and business editor before overseeing the opinion pages from 1979 until his retirement in 2000. He died in 2009.

• Jack Ronald, the longtime publisher of Portland’s Commercial Review who has made numerous trips to former Soviet republics to advocate for an independent and free press. Ronald has worked at the Commercial Review since 1974, first as city editor and then as editor before becoming its publisher in 1982. His influence has extended far beyond his small-town daily newspaper as he has joined journalism training trips since 1998 to countries such as Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Myanmar. He’s been blacklisted in some of those countries because of that work.

• Paul Tash, a South Bend native who has been editor, CEO and chairman of the Tampa Bay Times and chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Poynter Institute. Tash joined what was then the St. Petersburg Times after graduating from IU in 1976.

“The Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame grows stronger and becomes more significant each year because of the caliber of the people chosen for the 2013 class,” President Ray Moscowitz said. “The board of directors deserves a lot of credit for the time and effort it took in selecting these six outstanding people to join the ranks of the IJHF.”

The Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame was established by the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 1966 to recognize and honor Hoosier journalists who have significantly contributed to the profession. The hall is housed at the IU School of Journalism.

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