Veteran newspaper publisher Tommy Campbell and young journalist Hadley Hitson will be honored at the 2024 APA Media Summit in Montgomery as the Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Journalist recipients this year.

Campbell started his newspaper career in the mid-1970s at The Choctaw Advocate in Butler. He worked previously as a DJ for a local radio station and also worked promoting country music performers.

His job at The Advocate was the start of a 42-year career in the newspaper business. He worked his way from advertising representative, to reporter and photographer, to editor, handling nearly every area of news publication.

Tommy worked as editor of The Advocate until 2003 when he and his wife Dee Ann left to take jobs with Jones Media Group in North Carolina and Tennessee. Tommy took on the role as editor of the Avery Journal in Newland, TN, while Dee Ann worked as a reporter for the publication.

Later that year, they returned to Choctaw County and started The Choctaw Sun. In 2006, the Campbells purchased The Choctaw Advocate and merged the two publications into what is now The Choctaw Sun-Advocate.

Tommy returned to Tennessee for a time as publisher for Jones Media Group, while Dee Ann remained in Choctaw County to publish The Sun-Advocate. In 2020, Tommy returned to Alabama for good, and he and Dee Ann took ownership of The Democrat-Reporter in neighboring Marengo County. They changed the name to The Leader, and Tommy currently serves as the publisher there.

From his years in radio to his long career in newspaper publication, his name has been synonymous with community news in Choctaw County and surrounding areas for more than four decades.

On the other end of the journalism career spectrum is Hadley Hitson, who joined the Montgomery Advertiser in 2021, as a Report for America corps member covering rural Alabama.

Hadley, a Birmingham native, is a 2021 journalism graduate from the honors college at the University of Mississippi, where she served as managing editor of her student newspaper.

After her two-year Report for America assignment, Hitson joined the Advertiser team as a regular staffer covering children’s health, education and welfare. Her focus has been to cover the joys and challenges of growing up in Alabama.

The 2024 APA Media Summit is Friday, February 16. We will recognize these talented journalists at the luncheon, which begins at noon. We have a full day of programming scheduled, so please make plans to attend. Click HERE to register with APA before the Feb. 9 deadline. You can book a room at the Embassy Suites HERE. The deadline to get the APA rate is Monday, Jan. 22.