Coming as a surprise to absolutely no one who has had the pleasure of working with Glasgow’s own Ronnie Ellis, the former statehouse and Daily Times reporter is among the members of the 40th class of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
Ronnie retired in 2018 from his most recent post as CNHI’s Kentucky Statehouse Reporter. While serving his state in Frankfort — and anyone who has ever covered politics knows it truly is a service — Ronnie delivered thousands of stories on some of the most important issues of our time.
Ronnie’s legacy can’t be weighed without also considering what he meant to our community in Glasgow as a reporter for the Daily Times. He’s held politicians accountable for longer than most current journalists have been alive.
What I’ve always admired about Ronnie is that he cares about the story, not himself. He had no idea I was writing this column and probably would have urged me not to do so had he known, because that’s Ronnie.
You see, Ronnie is a true journalist. Ronnie cares about the story, not being the story. Too often we see people in our field who want the spotlight, whereas Ronnie’s work always spoke for itself. He didn’t need to pound his chest and every time he spoke truth to power, because Ronnie was worried about sticking up for you and me, not getting personal accolades.
I wish I could share the email with you where he sheepishly conceded to a few of us with CNHI Kentucky that he had been selected for the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, which was created by the University of Kentucky Journalism Association in 1981.
Oh what the heck, Ronnie can’t sue me for telling the truth. This line pretty much sums up Ronnie:
“I’m not trying to be modest (I’m thrilled to have been named),” Ronnie wrote. “I’ve never known quite how to inform people of these things without over rating the actual honor or sounding egomaniacal.”
This is classic Ronnie. He mentions in the email that others had already reached out to congratulate him, and with UK likely to send out a press release, he didn’t want CNHI to be the last to know of his Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame induction.
If I could bet legally in Kentucky, I would wager that Ronnie would have never told any of us of this honor had he not believed the information would have been published elsewhere.
So many of Ronnie’s peers can speak more eloquently and with more depth to his talent, as I only had the pleasure of working with him for about four years before his retirement. All I know is that there won’t be another Ronnie Ellis.
Ronnie didn’t back down from stories, and he didn’t let politicians bully him away from writing the truth. Trust me, plenty tried.
As a star statehouse reporter, Ronnie still made it a point to call the local newspapers he served to tip them off about big stories in their communities to give them the chance to break them first. That may sound like a common courtesy, but in a competitive field like journalism, giving away a big story happens about as often as Kentucky makes strides to grow its revenue.
So since Ronnie will never brag on himself, I’ll do it for him. He belongs in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and he deserves a tip of the cap from us for all he’s done for our state. But I know he’s not the type who wants the praise, he just wants you to pay attention to what’s happening around you and do your part as a responsible citizen.
Ronnie will be inducted along with nine other outstanding journalists on March 31.
Congratulations, Ronnie. You are a treasure to the state of Kentucky.