CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Adam R. Kelly Award was established in 1991 in memory of the late Adam R. Kelly, legendary “Country Editor” columnist and former owner and editor of the Tyler Star News in Sistersville. Kelly was known nationally for his outstanding service to newspapers.
The award is the highest individual honor bestowed by the West Virginia Press Association. It’s given each year in recognition of an individual’s service to the newspapers in the state, the West Virginia Press Association and to the individual’s community.
In 2020, the Adam R. Kelly Award winner is John Bolt.
Recently retired as senior executive director of University News for West Virginia University, John Bolt spent a career directly and indirectly improving and assisting newspapers, including more than two decades in West Virginia.
When he arrived at work in West Virginia in the 1990s, John said it was the first time he wasn’t wondering about his next job. “It just felt right.” For the West Virginia Press Association, having John in the state has always been right and beneficial.
The most recent example of John’s benefit to WV Press came at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. John directed the sharing of information and data that experts at WVU were generating on the Coronavirus. John and his team at WVU Today — all working from home during the pandemic — provided daily updates and regularly shared information with the state media. Many newspapers featured those WVU updates and/or based their reporting on the data being generating at the university.
To review a portion of that work, visit https://wvutoday.wvu.edu/home
While his job was helping re-energize and stabilize WVU’s University Relations/News operation, John said working with the state’s media, including its newspapers, was a key to succeeding at WVU.
During his time at the university, John also developed and directed WVU’s Academic Media Day, when members of the state’s media spend a day learning from and talking with WVU’s experts and administrators. John, who first came to West Virginia as Chief of Bureau for The Associated Press in Charleston, also conceived of and started the annual “AP Legislative Lookahead,” bringing together political and government leaders with print and broadcast reporters in advance of the legislative session.
That project is now directed by WV Press. Both Academic Media Day and the Legislative Lookahead continue to generate front-page and prime broadcast time stories. Among his mentors in the newspaper industry, John includes Mac McConnell, a former editorial page editor at a Greenville, S.C., newspaper, who helped him with his first newspaper internship, and Ogden Nutting of Ogden Newspapers in Wheeling, who offered advice and support during John’s time in West Virginia.
John has been active in other roles, serving as a member of the Visiting Committee for the then P.I. Reed School of Journalism, a member of the Freedom of Information Committee for the WVPA, and a member of the Diversity Council with The Associated Press. He has also been active with the Presbytery of West Virginia and the Presbyterian Church. Now retired, John and his wife, Margaret, plan to remain in West Virginia.
Here is a collection of photos for John Bolt’s bio: