8 journalism and PR professionals inducted into Va. Communications hall of fame

Eight communications professionals were announced as inductees into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame on Oct. 1. The ceremony will take place March 26 at the Altria Theater. Photos courtesy of Billy Coleburn

Katie Hollowell, Contributing Writer 

After editing for the Blackstone Courier-Record, publishing many books and winning awards from the Virginia Press Association, Doug Coleburn says being inducted to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame is the highest honor he’s ever received in his 72 years in journalism.

Doug Coleburn presses a book using a Linotype machine in the mid-1960s. Photo courtesy of Billy Coleburn

Eight communications professionals were announced as inductees into the Communications

Doug Coleburn, former editor for the Blackstone Courier-Record, was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Billy Coleburn

Hall of Fame on Oct. 1 by VCU. Along with Coleburn, Barbara Ciara, Brian Ellis, Bill Eure, Kym Grinnage, Cabell Harris, Thomas Kapsidelis and Donald Lee were honored this year. The ceremony will take place March 26 at the Altria Theater. 

“We believe in a strong editorial policy,” said Coleburn, who said he has strived for transparency while taking stands on important issues through his editorial work. “Part of [Courier-Record’s] success in having readers is taking a strong stand on important issues.”

Photographs also played an important role in how Coleburn told stories in Southwestern

Virginia. He says he remembers what it was like when technology was less advanced.

“Computers have made it so much easier to publish anything,” Coleburn said. “Photographs are so much better … because the old press didn’t do the job, but now with the new offset presses, it’s a joy.”

Interim Director of the Robertson School of Media and Culture Marcus Messner said the selection process for the Hall of Fame is made by a committee in which a variety of media industries and organizations are represented. It first begins with a public call for nominations, and then the committee reviews the candidates. After decisions have been made, VCU announces the inductees. 

The committee is co-chaired by Frazier Armstrong, who is an advisory board member of the Robertson School and a consultant for communications and marketing, and by Jeff Wilson, VP at Padilla, a national branding agency focusing on public relations, advertising, digital and social media. 

Here are the other seven 2020 inductees for Virginia Communications Hall of Fame:

  • Barbara Ciara is an anchor and managing editor of WTKR-TV News 3 in Hampton Roads. Ciara was the youngest woman and first African American news director at a commercial television station in the Southwest, according to a VCU news release. Ciara is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist who has reported in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Haiti and Mexico. She’s covered statewide political campaigns including interviews with former President Barack Obama. Ciara graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hampton University.
  • Brian Ellis is an executive vice president at Padilla for crisis and issues management practice. Ellis began his career as a DJ in college at the University of Florida while being a reporter and anchor at the university’s PBS station, WRUF. According to Padilla, Ellis then moved around the country working for different TV stations in Augusta, Georgia, Richmond and Tampa, Florida, becoming an Emmy award-winning news reporter. After working in TV, Ellis switched to public relations, working on national campaigns along with crisis management. He helped start Carter Ryley Thomas, which later became Padilla. 
  • Bill Eure was a broadcaster from Portsmouth, Virginia, and began his broadcasting career at WAVY-AM/TV in Hampton Roads. He was a general and sales manager at TV stations in the 1960s and ventured into broadcast ownership in 1970 with the purchase of radio stations WSSV-AM and WPLZ-FM in Petersburg. Eure created the first FM station programmed exclusively by African Americans in Richmond, Magic 99, in 1981. He has served on many boards and was the president of the Virginia Association of Broadcasters in 1975. Eure received the C.T. Lucy Distinguished Service Award from the VAB. He died in January.
  • Kym Grinnage is the vice president and general manager of WWBT-TV NBC 12 and WUPV-TV CW Richmond. He has been with NBC12 since 1990, starting out in sales and growing from account executive to general sales manager. Grinnage previously lived in New York and worked with CBS television. He has received recognition from the Associated Press for Best Editorial and the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ 2018 Humanitarian Award. 
  • Cabell Harris is the founder of WORK Inc., a creative branding agency in Richmond, Virginia. He worked with companies earlier in his career in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Cabell taught at VCU’s BrandCenter — a Master’s program that covers tracks in art direction, brand management, design and other areas — for 10 years. He has been recognized in many major industry award shows, spanning from Cannes Lions to British Design & Art Direction. 
  • Thomas Kapsidelis is a local journalist and author of “After Virginia Tech: Guns, Safety, and Healing in the Era of Mass Shootings,” which was published this year by the University of Virginia Press. Kapsidelis was an editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch for 28 years and left to complete his book through a fellowship. He was also the Richmond bureau manager for United Press International, a global news organization that focuses on world news, entertainment, trends, science, health and photography.  Kapsidelis graduated from University of Maryland with an undergraduate degree in journalism and from Goucher College with an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction. He is a visiting journalism professor at the University of Richmond and was previously an adjunct professor at VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. 
  • Donald Lee is a cameraman and journalist for CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in Washington. He began at VCU as a student enrolled in the first bulletin for broadcast news curriculum. Lee began working at local radio and TV stations in Richmond. He has worked for five decades at “60 Minutes,” covering a range of topics in conflict, politics and natural disasters. He has won three Emmys, two duPont-Columbia Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

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