COLUMBUS — Former Lima News publisher Thomas J. Mullen was posthumously inducted Saturday into the Ohio Associated Press Media Editor’s Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made during its annual banquet in which The Lima News also received 12 journalism awards. It marked the 14th straight year the newspaper has won 10 or more awards.
Mullen’s daughter, Molly McKanna, accepted the honor on behalf of her father, who passed away on Sept. 9, 2017, at the age of 77. His wife Vicky, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was also in attendance along with a grandson, Matthew Chamberlain.
McKanna pointed to her father’s love of journalism and the values and commitment he brought to the job as an editor and publisher.
“His endearing commitment and defense of free speech never wavered,” she said. “He was fair, principled and loyal when it came to the treatment of others. His standard of excellence was unmatched.”
Mullen was a graduate of Lima Senior High School and was hired as a reporter by The Lima News at the age of 19. Five years later he became the newspaper’s editor – or “the boy editor” – as some would say.
He held that role until 1981, when he became the editor of the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs, where his staff won a Pulitzer Prize in feature writing.
Mullen returned to Lima as its publisher in 1991, serving in that role until 2000, when he returned to Colorado Springs as that paper’s publisher, a role he held until his retirement in October 2004.
“When he came back, I think those were the best years The Lima News had,” said Mike Lackey, a retired longtime columnist who spent 36 years with The Lima News. “Tom made some tough decisions, tough changes at the paper. He expected a lot from you, but I enjoyed working for him. He brought such great enthusiasm to the paper.”
The Ohio Sunshine Laws manual still cites the legal fight Mullen lead against the Elida Community Fire Co. The 1998 Supreme Court decision helped solve long-standing conflicts that records of public-private partnerships are public records.
He also fought to gain the newspaper a seat on the board of the Allen Economic Development Group’s oversight board when it formed, again arguing that public funds spent on private development required some light of day from newspapers.
He loved his home town. Mullen was a key organizer of the city’s first Star Spangled Spectacular fireworks show and the newspaper’s Empty Stocking Fund, which has raised more than $740,000 to date to help needy families each Christmas season.
The banquet also saw The Lima News win two first-place journalism awards, five second-place honors and five third-place winners. They were:
• Jim Krumel, best editorial writer
• Don Speck, best sports photo
• Adrienne McGee-Sterrett, best feature writer
• Jim Naveau, best sports columnist
• Craig J. Orosz and Levi Morman, best photo story
• John Bush, best business writer
• Staff, best digital presence
• Camri Nelson, best business writer
• J Swygart, best news writer
• Craig J. Orosz, best photo story
• David Trinko, best illustration or informational graphic
• David Trinko, best video
The Lima News competed in Division IV for newspapers with a daily circulation of 19,000 to 59,999.