COLUMBUS — A career dedicated to telling the story of local athletes has paved the way for the retired sports editor of the Sidney Daily News into the the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Hall of Fame.
Ken Barhorst, of Sidney, who retired in July 2017 after 44 years with the local newspaper, was honored Saturday during the annual APME awards in Columbus. He was one of four journalists to be so honored this year. In addition to Barhorst inducted into the Hall of Fame were Holly Geaman Koza, WLIO-TV, Lima; Thomas J. Mullen, The Lima News; and Pershing Rohrer, Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier. They join 11 others who have been inducted since the hall’s inception in 2014, one of whom is Tom Barnett, who was posthumously nominated by the Sidney Daily News and inducted in 2015.
“When I started at the newspaper, gas was 39 cents a gallon,” said Barhorst to the crowd of newspaper, television and radio employees, along with his family members in attendance, wife, Connie, son and daughter-in-law, Brad and Jana Barhorst, and daughters, Katie Morarity and Kendra Comer. “The Vietnam War had just ended and we were just 10 years out from the assassination of John Kennedy.”
Barhorst said when he first started at the Piqua Daily Call, Tom Barnett was his boss.
“In 2015 Tom Barnett received this award,” said Barhorst. “He finished his career with me in Sidney and was my first managing editor (in Piqua). I’m honored to stand along side Tom in the Hall of Fame.”
Barhorst was notified earlier in the month that he was going into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s quite the shock and quite the pleasant surprise,” Barhorst said. “I am honored and humbled. It’s nice when people appreciate your work. I didn’t do it alone. There were a lot of people along the way.”
Barhorst was the sports editor for 42 years in Sidney. In addition to covering Shelby Oaks golf, the bowling alley and Eldora Speedway, he was responsible for reporting on games and people in 15 school systems.
“Whether he was reporting on Friday night football or a weekend jam-packed with basketball games, Ken built a relationship with coaches, parents and athletes that ensured that factual stories appeared in the newspaper,” wrote Sidney Daily News Editor Melanie Speicher in nominating him.
“Ken was named the sports editor in 1975 and through the years became a ‘one-man’ sports department. With the assistance of stringers and photographers, Ken provided the best local sports coverage to SDN readers.
“You’d find Ken in the office early in the morning, finishing up game stories from the night before. Or he’d be working on a feature, perhaps highlighting a sports achievement of one of the athletes, sharing a story about a 92-year-old hunter who has bagged an 8-point buck or a girl who beat out her dad to win the duck stamp trophy for her artwork. Then, he’d be gone for the afternoon, so he could return on a split shift at night to talk to coaches following their games that day. He dedicated hours and hours to make sure he contacted each and every one,” Speicher wrote.
It wasn’t just Daily News staff who supported Barhorst’s nomination. Sidney Mayor Michael Barhorst and Andy Bixler, superintendent of Anna Local Schools, wrote letters to the APME, too.
“Ken’s writing positively impacted the city of Sidney, the villages of Shelby county and well beyond,” the mayor wrote. “I know from messages received from those serving in the military and from other international contacts that … Ken’s stories have had an impact well beyond the United States.”
Bixler, a coach, member of the Southwest District Athletic Board and past president of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors, commended Ken for “treating all schools well and fairly and accurately reporting,” which “allowed him to build an unequaled level of trust with all the schools he covered … Ken Barhorst surpasses his peers in commitment and dedication to prep sports coverage in a region of Ohio that is passionate about high school sports.” He called the former writer’s work “exemplary.”
In addition to Barhorst’s honor, several SDN staff members were recognized for their work in 2017. The newspaper competed in Division II, which includes newspapers with a daily circulation of 8,000 to 11,999.
Editor Melanie Speicher reccived second place for spot news with her entry, “Firefighters Recscue Fisherman.”
Barhorst and SDN Sports Editor Bryant Billing placed second in best daily sports section.
Chief Photographer Luke Gronneberg placed third in best photographer. Judges commemts were “Rescue shot is quite dramatic. Others also good.”
Dave Ross, who is a guest sports columnist for the paper, placed second in best sports columnist.
General Excellence awards for 2017 went to The Columbus Dispatch, The Canton Repository, Sandusky Register, The (Newark) Advocate and The Chillicothe Gazette.
The Lancaster Eagle Gazette won the First Amendment Award for outstanding accomplishment in pursuing freedom of information. The newspaper won with its entry “The Fall of Brian Kuhn.”
Bethany Bruner, a reporter at The (Newark) Advocate, was named Ohio APME’s Newspaper Rising Star. That award recognizes journalists with five years or less in journalism. Sixty-four daily newspapers submitted 1,922 entries in the contest, which featured news and sports stories, features, editorials, columns, graphics and photos from 2017.
Entries were judged by editors from The Detroit News, Division V; Digital First Media, Troy, Michigan, Division IV; the La Porte (Indiana) Herald-Argus and the Traverse City (Michigan) Record-Eagle, Division III; the Niagara-Gazette, Niagara Falls, New York, and the Cadillac (Michigan) News, Division II; the Petoskey (Michigan) News-Review and the Ludington (Michigan) Daily News, Division I.
The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative representing 1,400 newspapers and 5,000 broadcast stations in the United States.