Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016
Seven distinguished Virginia media professionals will be honored this spring at the 2016 Virginia Communications Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The April 7 event is the 29th Hall of Fame ceremony to honor significant achievements in the fields of Virginia media.
The Virginia Communications Hall of Fame recognizes communication professionals with exceptional careers in advertising, journalism, public relations and other media fields. The newest class of inductees will bring the total number of this elite group to 165. Larry Sabato, political scientist and analyst, author, professor and founder of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, will serve as master of ceremonies at the induction ceremony this year.
“As the proud host of this important annual communication event in Virginia, the Robertson School is very happy and excited to see these seven outstanding media professionals in the commonwealth inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Hong Cheng, Ph.D., director of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “They are all inspirational role models in our field.”
The inductees are:
Horton P. Beirne (posthumous), former president of the Virginia Press Association, devoted publisher of the Virginian Review and honored community member, was the fourth generation of the Beirne family to serve Virginia newspapers. In addition to the Covington paper, Beirne dedicated his career of service to the VPA and to the Virginia journalism industry. During more than 16 years of total service on the VPA board, he was a vigorous supporter of education initiatives, including the creation of the continuing education program. Beirne was an avid supporter of open government and broader First Amendment issues. In April 2015, Beirne was given the lifetime achievement award by VPA, the highest honor the association awards.
Jeffrey Blount, Emmy Award-winning television director with 32 years of network television experience, is an accomplished public speaker, award-winning author of two novels and an award-winning scriptwriter for documentary projects. Blount directed a decade of “Meet the Press.” He directed “The Today Show,” “TheSunday Today Show,” Washington portions of “Nightly News” and “The Chris Matthews Show.” As the director, Blount oversees the Washington control room coverage for the “Nightly News,” election nights, special reports and major events: Inauguration Days, State of the Union addresses, state funerals for former presidents and national emergencies.
Don Just started at the top in the advertising industry when, in 1982, he moved from serving as the president of a large bank to become president and CEO of The Martin Agency, a small local shop. For the next 10 years, Just guided Martin’s rapid growth, making it one of the most recognized agencies in the country. As an advertising executive with a Darden School MBA in finance, Just provided a unique perspective to such clients as Maserati, Bank One, Pet Inc., Borden’s, Wrangler, GM, Marriott, FMC Corporation, ITT, Ethyl, USWest and Cendant Corporation. After negotiating the sale of Martin to a large New York agency, Just left the company and subsequently funded and directed a number of successful entrepreneurial ventures. He currently serves as professor of creative brand management at the internationally acclaimed Brandcenter, part of the VCU School of Business.
Bill McKelway is a retired Richmond Times-Dispatch journalist who for 44 years crisscrossed the state, writing about the events that shaped Virginia through the close of one century and the beginning of another. McKelway covered the 1985 election week floods, the John Walker spy case and the 10-month strike against Pittston coal in 1989-90, and he served as a key member of the team that covered the 2002 Maryland/Virginia sniper shootings. He was a leader in reporting from Blacksburg on the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and its aftermath and was a member of the team reporting on the wounding of Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds by the lawmaker’s son. McKelway’s work has won numerous Virginia Press Association awards, and in 1984 he was named United Press International’s Virginia journalist of the year.
June Nicholson, longtime former journalist and tenured full professor who has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University for 31 years, has shaped and influenced hundreds of journalism and mass communications students at VCU, who are now themselves shaping media organizations across Virginia and the nation. Her work with the Urban Journalism Workshop at VCU was groundbreaking and introduced many high school students of color to the profession. Nicholson’s academic research on the role of women in journalism, including her book “The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press,” has also elevated the discussion about the standing of women in American newsrooms and companies. She served as president of the Virginia chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and chaired the national SPJ Journalism Education Committee for seven years. She also is active in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the leading academic organization for educators in journalism and mass communications and was the recipient in 2014 of AEJMC’s “Outstanding Woman in Journalism and Mass Communication Education” award. She also received AEJMC’s 2008 Robert Knight Multicultural Award for her work to increase diversity in newsrooms.
Adriana Trigiani is a successful and creative author of 14 novels, two nonfiction books, and the writer, director and producer of television programs and a feature film. Every one of her books has made it to The New York Times Best Sellers list, and her novels have been selected for the book clubs at USA Today, People magazine and Target. Trigiana has written 15 TV pilots, was writer and producer for “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” and was executive producer for “CityKids” for ABC/Jim Henson Productions. In 2014, her first novel, “Big Stone Gap,” was turned into a motion picture and debuted at the Virginia Film Festival.
George R. Woltz was co-founder of the Martin & Woltz advertising agency and creative director of “Virginia is for lovers,” the official tourism slogan of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the longest-running state travel campaign in the United States. In 2009, this iconic slogan was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in New York and ranked by Forbes.com as one of the top 10 tourism brands of all time. Throughout his career, Woltz worked on such major accounts as A.H. Robins, Bank of Virginia, Case Vibromax, Caterpillar, Colonial Williamsburg, Rubbermaid, Vepco, and Virginia State Travel Service. Woltz also created advertising for numerous political campaigns, including those for Bill Spong, John Dalton, Chuck Robb, John Warner and Harry Byrd Jr.
These seven media leaders will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday, April 7, at Quirk Hotel in Richmond. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the induction ceremony at 7 p.m. The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU will host the ceremony.
Tickets are $125 each and can be reserved online at https://www.support.vcu.edu/event/HallofFame, or by contacting Lauren Stewart at the Robertson School of Media and Culture at email@example.com or 804-827-3761. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Hall of Fame scholarship fund at VCU.
About the Robertson School
The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU (formerly School of Mass Communications) prepares effective and skilled communicators through quality instruction, advising and student services, based on real world applications. Through research, professional service and scholarship in applied communications, the School advances the knowledge and practice in a multi-disciplinary and evolving media environment. The School values truth, ethics, creativity, innovation, collaboration, cultural diversity, shared governance and community engagement. Home to more than 1,300 students, the School has three undergraduate sequences in advertising, journalism and public relations, as well as two master’s programs in multimedia journalism and strategic public relations. It also jointly runs a Media Art and Text interdisciplinary Ph.D. program with the Department of English and the School of the Arts. For more information, please see robertson.vcu.edu.
About VCU and VCU Health
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.