36th Annual AJHA Convention
Little Rock   |   Oct. 12-14, 2017

Convention contacts

Convention Coordinator
Caryl Cooper
University of Alabama

Registration Coordinator
Ken Ward
Ohio University

Program Coordinator
Ross Collins
North Dakota State

Convention hosts

Sonny Rhodes
UA Little Rock

Donna Lampkin Stephens
University of Central Arkansas

Special Events


William J. Clinton Presidential Library is the site of the closing gala dinner. (Photo: Fetchcomms)

AJHA Awards Reception | Donna Allen Roundtable Luncheon | Gala Dinner

Sidney Kobre & Teaching Awards Luncheon ♦ Thurs., Oct. 12
Included with registration

Attendees enjoy a plated, table service lunch as AJHA honors the winners of the Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History and the National Award for Excellence in Teaching. AJHA's highest honor, the Kobre Award recognizes individuals with an exemplary record of sustained achievement in journalism history through teaching, research, professional activities, or other contributions to the field of journalism history. The annual AJHA Award for Excellence in Teaching honors a college or university teacher who excels at teaching in the areas of journalism and mass communication history, makes a positive impact on student learning, and offers an outstanding example for other educators. See the Awards page for information on honorees.

AJHA Awards Reception ♦ Thurs., Oct. 12
Included with registration (sponsored by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Local Journalist Award

AJHA annually bestows its Outstanding Local Journalist Award for Substantial Contribution to the Public Interest to a journalist local to the convention city whose work has had a positive impact on the community. The recipient serves as a featured speaker at the Thursday evening reception. Reception attendees enjoy hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar at this event.

Debra Hale-Shelton joined the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2004 as the newspaper's Conway bureau reporter. Since then, she has reported stories that led to the resignations of two University of Central Arkansas presidents and has reported extensively on a judicial corruption probe. She previously worked more than 20 years for The Associated Press, mostly in Chicago but also in Little Rock and other bureaus. She has twice won the Arkansas Press Association's I.F. Stone Award for investigative journalism. Debra has interviewed a wide range of newsmakers, including former Presidents Carter and Clinton, the late advice columnist Ann Landers, a young Donald Trump, death-row inmates and the suspected Tylenol killer.

As a freelance writer, her articles have appeared in the Chicago TribuneHadassah MagazineAngie's List and other publications. Debra has one teenage daughter, Annie, and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in English from Arkansas State University.  She credits her first employer, Dorothy Stuck, for giving her a start at the now-defunct weekly, the Marked Tree Tribune.

Donna Allen Roundtable Luncheon ♦ Fri., Oct. 13
Additional charge

The annual Donna Allen Luncheon celebrates contributions of women to the field of journalism. American Journalism Historians Association invites a woman journalist local to the convention city as its honored guest and featured speaker for the luncheon. Attendees enjoy a plated, table service lunch at this event.

Two outstanding local journalists will speak at the 2017 luncheon.

Contributing editor to the Arkansas Times and past Arkansas Journalist of the Year, Mara Leveritt has reported for almost three decades on police, courts and prisons. She also has written three nonfiction books about crime and public corruption. Her books The Boys on the Tracks and Devil’s Knot have received many honors. The latter book, examining the legal underpinnings of two infamous Arkansas murder cases, became a feature film starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon.

In 2011, Leveritt sued the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct over the office’s policy of threatening persons who reported complaints against attorneys with prosecution for contempt of court if they disclosed their complaints publicly. Leveritt’s federal civil rights lawsuit contended that this restraint violated the nation’s First Amendment. A year later, the state settled the lawsuit by agreeing to end the practice.

Gwen Moritz  is a native Arkansan; she was born in Conway and reared in North Little Rock. She graduated from Harding University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Her career has mainly been spent at newspapers -- the Pine Bluff Commercial, the Arkansas Gazette, the Nashville (TN) Business Journal and, since 1999, as editor of Arkansas Business. She also has worked at the Tennessee Health Care Association and as Communications Coordinator for the Nashville Bar Association.

Alliance of Area Business Publishers, an international association of business journals, recently presented Moritz with its gold award for bylined commentary among medium-sized business journals for work published in 2016. Her winning portfolio included columns on the proposed ballot item that would have written Missouri casino companies into the state constitution, the fallout from Wells Fargo's fraudulent account scandal, and salaries paid to physicians at CARTI.

Gala Dinner ♦ Sat., Oct. 14 ♦ William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Additional charge

The closing event for the annual AJHA convention enables convention attendees to network and reminisce over the convention's activities in a social setting. The Gala will be hosted by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and will be held in its facility at 1200 President Clinton Ave., less than a mile from the hotel. In addition to the collections and research facilities administered by the National Archives & Records Administration, the Clinton Presidential Library & Museum features replicas of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room and exhibits using primary sources and interactive media to highlight Clinton-era policies as well as life in the White House. Attendees will be able to tour the museum prior to the dinner. Visit the Library website.

Convention sponsors


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