A reporter from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette whose work has exposed judicial and higher education corruption will soon be honored by the American Journalism Historians Association. Debra Hale-Shelton, who joined the Democrat-Gazette in 2004, will receive AJHA’s 2017 Local Journalist Award at the organization’s annual convention, which will be held Oct. 12-14 in Little Rock.
“Every year AJHA honors a journalist in our convention city who has repeatedly ensured that the public interest is served by governmental, societal and corporate institutions,” Dave Vergobbi, AJHA President and a University of Utah professor. “We are indeed pleased to so honor Debra Hale-Shelton this year in Little Rock, because her career exemplifies the vital role of journalism in a democracy.”
Hale-Shelton has reported stories that led to the resignations of two University of Central Arkansas presidents, and she reported extensively on a judicial corruption probe. Hale-Shelton previously worked more than 20 years for The Associated Press. She has interviewed former Presidents Carter and Clinton, the late advice columnist Ann Landers, a young Donald Trump, death-row inmates and the suspected Tylenol killer.
"Debra Hale-Shelton is, perhaps, the best reporter in Arkansas,” said Donna Lampkin Stephens, Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Central Arkansas. “The epitome of journalism's watchdog role, she is a dogged, determined journalist who has uncovered a number of cases of wrongdoing and been the catalyst for correcting them. I hope my students grow up to be just like her."