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Keelor Keeps News Front and Center

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Jim Keelor is the rare broadcast business executive who plants his corporate ladder in the newsroom rather than the sales offices.

Mr. Keelor, president of Liberty Corp., which operates 15 TV stations, will be the first station group executive to receive the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s First Amendment Leadership Award. He will be honored March 10 at the association’s 15th annual awards dinner.

“His company is one that makes news the centerpiece of their station strategy,” said Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. “They invest in their news product. They support their news department and the philo-sophy of their company is to provide news as a public service to the communities they are located in.”

Mr. Keelor’s news background, rising as a producer, reporter and anchor before moving into station management, proved a great training ground because news directors often make more decisions in a day than other department heads make in a week, he said.

“You had to be able to deal and listen and react to people of all walks of life, and I think news directors are required to do that if they are successful,” he said.

But despite the strength of his own record, he defers to his stations’ work as the reason for the award. In the past month alone, three Liberty stations were mentioned nationally regarding their coverage of big breaking news stories in their markets, he said. Those stations are NBC affiliate WIS-TV in Columbia, S.C., NBC station WAVE-TV in Louisville, Ky., and ABC station KLTV in Tyler, Texas.

Mr. Keelor challenged his news departments to work on behalf of press freedom by doing extensive coverage of the recent presidential election. CBS station WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio, visited 15 cities in northern Ohio to report on grass-roots issues during the election, he said.

Mr. Keelor credited the efforts of the Liberty station news staffs for the First Amendment award.