Just two and a half weeks before his scheduled induction into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, Ewell Balltrip passed away Thursday. Ewell had been editor and publisher of the Middlesboro Daily News and Harlan Daily Enterprise when those were owned by the New York Times. He also served on the National Advisory Board for the UK College of Communication when that group was first formed.
Ewell Balltrip, an effective and persistent community journalist, often under difficult circumstances, he had served as publisher of the Harlan Daily Enterprise, the Middlesboro Daily News and the State Gazette in Dyersburg, Tenn. He started at the Enterprise as an intern and returned to his hometown after graduating from Baylor University in 1972 with degrees in journalism and political science. He became editor in 1979, publisher in 1985, added the Middlesboro job for The New York Times Co. in 1989 and went to Dyersburg for it in 1990. He was known for covering the coal industry and the War on Poverty, earning the confidence of especially sensitive local audiences, commentary on local and broader issues, First Amendment advocacy, and many civic activities. He returned to Kentucky in 1996 to be executive director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission for Gov. Paul Patton. In 2004 he founded the National Institute for Hometown Security in Somerset. He ran it until shortly before he died March 7, 2019, at the age of 68.
His work in journalism has earned him awards from the Kentucky Press Association and citations from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.
Balltrip served on the boards of directors of numerous civic organizations and community and regional development organizations. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Corridor and served as treasurer of that organization. He also served on the board of directors of the Central Appalachian Institute for Research and Development which is based at the University of Pikeville.
He was a native of Harlan, and a graduate of Baylor University with degrees in journalism and political science.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his children, Andrew and Amanda. Funeral service arrangements are pending and will be announced through Southern Oaks Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of the following programs in his memory: Harlan County Community Scholarship Fund, The Rogers Scholars program at the Center for Rural, Maria Braden Endowed Scholarship at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media. Addresses to these programs may be obtained through the Southern Oak Funeral Home online obituary.
Two KPA Past Presidents — Tom Caudill and the late Steve Lowery — are among seven who have been selected to the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Both Steve and Tom have played prominent roles in KPA as presidents and also in the KPA Legal Defense Fund. It was Steve who presented the idea to the KPA Board in the mid-1990s and Tom has served as chair since it began on August 1, 1996.
A Pulitzer Prize winner is also among those to be inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame class of 2019.
Dana Canedy, who was part of a New York Times team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, is one of seven Kentuckians or Kentucky natives who will be inducted into the Hall on March 25.
The other inductees:
Tom Caudill spent 36 years at the Herald-Leader, concluding his career as managing editor. He was president of the Kentucky Press Association and serves on the boards of the Kentucky Kernel at the University of Kentucky and the College Heights Herald at Western Kentucky University, his alma mater. He has played a key role in KPA, chairing the Legal Defense Fund since it was established in 1996. He retired from the Herald-Leader in 2017.
George Corban Goble worked at the Berea College Press and Berea Citizen before graduation from the college and served in the Navy during the Korean War. He returned to the Citizen, became its editor in 1964. and served on the executive committee of Kentucky Press Association. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Kentucky while serving as an instructor, finished his doctorate and taught at Western Kentucky University, where he retired in 1996.
Bruce Johnson has been an anchor and reporter for WUSA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., for more than four decades. He has won 22 Emmy Awards and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Governors’ Award. He is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Washington, D.C., Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Johnson is a native of Louisville and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University.
Steve Lowery was editor and publisher of The Kentucky Standard in Bardstown, where the paper started a local cable-news channel, and The Lebanon Enterprise, both of which won many awards. He served as a mentor to many successful editors in Landmark Community Newspapers. As president of the Kentucky Press Association, he was the impetus behind its Legal Defense Fund and an internship program for college students. Steve was also instrumental in the rewrite of Kentucky’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws in 1990-92. He joined in a group that developed KPA’s approach to much stronger laws and then served as a member of the Legislative Task Force that wrote the legislation and helped it pass both chambers with near unanimous approval. Lowery died at 54 in 2007.
Michael Wines, a native of Louisville, has been a national correspondent for The New York Times since 1988, after reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the Iran-Contra scandal and for National Journal in Washington and The Louisville Times. For nearly 15 years, he wrote about life in Russia. At UK he was editor of the Kentucky Kernel, leading it to independence from the university and was recognized as the nation’s top student journalist.
Dana Canedy, who grew up near Fort Knox and graduated from UK with a degree in journalism, is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. She also is the author of the best-seller, A Journal for Jordan. Her career has included stops at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and the Florida bureau of The New York Times. She was a senior editor when she left the Times.
The hall was created by the University of Kentucky Journalism Alumni Association in 1980. It is housed in the School of Journalism and Media.
The induction will be held during a noon luncheon on Monday, March 25, at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort, 1800 Newtown Pike in Lexington. Tickets are $65, which includes state sales tax. To purchase a ticket by credit card, go to www.ukalumni.net/journalismhof19.
Please contact the school’s project manager, John Cruz, at 859-257-3904 with any questions about reservations or email firstname.lastname@example.org.