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James L. Highland Media Adviser of the Year Award

The James L. Highland Media Adviser of the Year Award has been established to recognize journalism advisers and media teachers who actively support and protect the First Amendment rights of students through inspiring high ethical and professional standards. In addition, the award will recognize advisers’ outstanding achievement in media classrooms and in student publications and broadcasts.

The Western Kentucky University Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was advised by James L. Highland for 30 years. In addition to inspiring students to protect journalists' freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, he has also worked nationwide to assist student publication advisers whose jobs were endangered. As a result of his efforts as vice president for campus chapter affairs of the national SPJ, many newspaper and yearbook advisers still have their jobs, and university administrators have a healthier respect for the First Amendment.

Teachers and administrators face incredible pressures to reduce budgets, cut elective courses and to focus exclusively on achievement testing. They also face pressures to make student publications and broadcasts into public relations tools, representing only mainstream opinions and subjecting content to administrative approval.  The Hazelwood Supreme Court decision enabled administrators to deprive students of many rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Jim Highland has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to support and protect Kentucky high school media advisers and their programs, inspiring them to maintain high professional and ethical standards.

The winner is presented with a plaque from the WKU School of Media during the Mark of Excellence yearbook awards ceremony at the annual Journalism Scholars Day in the fall.

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Past Winners

2018: Cole Claybourn, F.J. Reitz High School, Evansville

2017: Loraine Himmelhaver, Meade County High School

2016: Sheena Searcy, Franklin-Simpson High School

Sam Oldenburg, KHSMI Coordinator | samual.oldenburg@wku.edu | 270-745-3055

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 Last Modified 9/4/19