Kevin Smith, a member of our board and deputy director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University, received the Wells Memorial Key Award, SPJ’s highest honor, at the national convention in Nashville last week. Congratulations, Kevin!
Outgoing SPJ President David Cuillier shared a lengthy list of accomplishments, but focused on Kevin’s stellar work on revising the SPJ Ethics Code, revised for the first time since 1996 and adopted by delegates during the closing business meeting.
Kevin joined SPJ as a journalism student 35 years ago and didn’t wait long to get involved in the news organization. A year out of school, in 1980, he helped start a local professional chapter in West Virginia and then joined the Society’s FOI committee as a Project Watchdog member, monitoring open meetings and records issues in that state.
In 1988, Kevin’s work earned him a position on the ethics committee. By 1991, he was named a Poynter Ethics Fellow. He served as vice chairman of the committee when SPJ wrote its first ethic book, “Doing Ethics in Journalism,” to which he was a contributing writer. He was awarded a second ethics fellowship by Poynter in 1993 and then took over as ethics chair in 1994 to began revising the Society’s ethics code, which was accomplished in 1996. He later added work to another ethics book for SPJ.
While working in academics, SPJ members elected him to serve an unexpired board term in 1997 as campus adviser at-large.
In 2006, he left the ethics committee to become Region 4 director, ultimately becoming SPJ president in 2010. Immediately following his presidency, Kevin returned to the ethics committee to begin his last four-year stint as chairman. It culminated last weekend at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference with the passage of the newest ethics code.
Kevin has lectured on media ethics all over the world and taught the subject on college campuses for 13 years. In addition, he has been a campus adviser at two universities (Miami University of Ohio and James Madison University), and served on the board of three local chapters. He has been a member of the SPJ’s sister organization, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, since 2008.