Apply now for $1,000 scholarship

Mike Farrell

The Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is now taking applications for its annual scholarship, named this year in memory of journalist and journalism educator Mike Farrell. The chapter will award at least one $1,000 scholarship to a college journalism student from Kentucky or attending a Kentucky institution. For more information, and to apply online, click here.



Susan Straub wins this year’s Jennifer Schaaf Award

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, left, joins Tom Eblen, Bluegrass Chapter President, in congratulating Susan Straub on receiving the Schaaf Award at Berry Hill mansion in Frankfort on Dec. 6. Photo by Patti Cross

Susan Straub, director of communications for Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, has been honored with the 2019 Jennifer Schaaf Memorial Award.

Straub, who has served as communications director or press secretary for four Lexington mayors, was presented the government communicators award by the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.  Tom Eblen, chapter president and a retired Lexington Herald-Leader columnist and managing editor, made the presentation Dec. 6 in collaboration with the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators.

“This is a special honor,” Straub said. “It’s named for someone I knew and respected, and it comes from people I know and respect. I have been fortunate to work for mayors who believe in transparency and in the importance of keeping the public informed on the decisions their government is making. And our state has been fortunate to have an outstanding and professional press corps.”

Eblen praised Straub’s commitment to the public’s right to be informed about the activities of government.

“Susan personifies the traits of a good public information professional,” he said. “She responds quickly and accurately to reporters’ questions, gets them the information they seek and always balances the demands of journalists and her bosses in an ethical manner. At a time when many citizens express little trust in both politicians and journalists, these traits have never been more important.”

Gorton, who attended the ceremony, praised Straub for her service to Kentucky’s second-largest city. Straub previously worked for mayors Pam Miller, Jim Newberry and Jim Gray.

“I am so proud of Susan for receiving this great honor,” Gorton said. “To be chosen by her peers for this award shows that her commitment to public service and open communication is revered. During the time she served four mayors, she has been indispensable to the daily communication between government and Lexington’s residents.”

Straub began her career as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering government communications. She was named a distinguished alum of the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Media in 2018.

The Jennifer Schaaf Memorial Award is presented annually to honor excellence in government communications. Schaaf, who died in 1999, was a respected government communicator who held several positions in Kentucky state government and served as president of both KAGC and as director of the National Association of Government Communicators.


Investigative Reporters & Editors workshop Oct. 5 in Lexington. Register now!

Register now to attend the  Investigative Reporters & Editors Watchdog Workshop at the University of Kentucky on Oct. 5.  Registration includes a free (or extended) one-year IRE membership.

Speakers include Beth Musgrave of the Lexington Herald-Leader; R.G. Dunlop and Eleanor Klibanoff of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting; Matt Mencarini of the Courier-Journal; James Pilcher of The Cincinnati Enquirer; Claudia Vargas of The Philadelphia Inquirer; Paula Vasan of WHAS11 in Louisville; Cody Winchester of IRE and the National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting; and more.

The cost is just $55 for professionals — less than the cost of an annual IRE membership! — and $25 for students. Optional hands-on spreadsheet training will be offered Sunday, Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. No prior data experience is necessary. Additional cost: $30.

Find all the information and register at:

Have lunch Friday with NPR’s Howard Berkes

Howard Berkes, who recently retired from National Public Radio, will be in town this week to be honored at the Al Smith Dinner as one of the winners of the 2019 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism.

Before he leaves Friday, Berkes has agreed to have an informal lunch with members of the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as other interested local journalists.  Join us Friday at noon at Goodfellas Pizza in the Distillery District, 1228 Manchester St.

Breakfast with Terry Anderson

SPJ members and student and professional journalists interested in joining SPJ are invited to an informal breakfast gathering with journalism educator and former Associated Press Mideast correspondent Terry Anderson, who was held hostage in Lebanon from 1985-1991. He will be in town speaking at the University of Kentucky and has agreed to chat over breakfast before he leaves. We will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the restaurant of the Campbell House Lexington, 1375 S. Broadway.  We will be ordering from the regular menu, but please let Tom Eblen know if you plan to attend so we can reserve enough seating.