Award-winning news anchor Janet Hall O’Neil and her husband Frank O’Neil have generously funded an endowed faculty position in the College of Communication & Information Sciences (C&IS). The Endowed Faculty Position in Journalistic Integrity will emphasize how the business model in news impacts journalism. Hall hopes the gift will help teach fairness and ethical reporting for future generations.
“I believe it is crucial, now more than ever, to promote and nurture journalistic integrity in our classrooms. Great journalism doesn’t just happen; it must be intentional and it must be protected,” Hall said.
Hall graduated from The University of Alabama with a B.A. in broadcast and film. She served the state of Alabama as a reporter and a news anchor for more than 40 years, notably as the co-anchor of WBRC FOX6 News. She has been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career including the Associated Press Best Anchor in Alabama in 2001 and 1994, as well as awards for Best Feature Story, Best Documentary and Extraordinary Coverage of a Planned Event.
In 1999 Hall was named the “Local Hero in the Fight Against Breast Cancer” by the Komen Foundation. In 1998 she was given the “She Knows Where She’s Going Award” by Girls Incorporated of Alabama, and in 1997 she was recognized by Birmingham AIDS Outreach for Best Media Coverage in the fight against AIDS/HIV. Hall has served the community as a board member of AIDS Alabama, The American Red Cross, Goodwill Industries, and Urban Ministries. She is a long-standing volunteer and supporter of The Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure and The Hoover School System’s Finley Awards.
Hall is also a member of the C&IS Board of Visitors, and she was awarded the C&IS Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004 and the C&IS Outstanding Alumni Award in 1989.
Frank O’Neil received his B.A. in broadcasting and journalism and M.A. in communication from UA and is the former senior vice president and chief communication officer for ProAssurance. He has also served as an adjunct instructor for UA and Birmingham-Southern College. O’Neil shares his wife’s passion for journalism and hopes the endowed faculty position will encourage integrity within the profession.
“True journalism requires not only even-handed, unbiased reporting of the facts. It must be supported by a viable business model that values and supports integrity,” O’Neil said. “Our hope is that this fellowship will promote the development of media business models that will allow true journalism to flourish in the new digital age.”
Both Hall and O’Neil credit C&IS with providing them a basis of knowledge they would use to begin their successful careers. They believe the new Endowed Faculty Position in Journalistic Integrity will inspire current C&IS students to develop an ethical foundation for their professional careers in news media.
“The University provided each of us with a strong foundation for successful careers in news and communications. We are honored to help provide a new foundation for the highly-qualified future communications professionals now being trained at The University of Alabama,” they said.
Endowed faculty positions are a funding priority for C&IS as part of the Rising Tide Capital Campaign. The Rising Tide Capital Campaign is a University-wide effort to raise a minimum of $1.5 billion in philanthropic support for strategic priorities over a 10-year period. For more information, visit risingtide.ua.edu.