Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists honors UMSL Chief of Staff Adella Jones as Living Legend
Adella Jones knew she’d be fighting a losing battle trying not to tear up Saturday night when honored as a Living Legend by the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists.
Jones, whose career has included roles in journalism and public relations and who now serves as the chief of staff at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, joined KMOV morning news anchor Maurice Drummond and St. Louis Post-Dispatch music critic Kevin Johnson as the guests of honor at the awards event at Saint Louis University’s Il Monastero Center.
“What’s so emotional about it is to be recognized by my peers and my mentors and my friends,” said Jones, who through her involvement with GSLABJ over the years had helped choose and celebrate other inductees into what serves as the organization’s Hall of Fame. “I am most uncomfortable on this side of that. I’ve worked on it and planned it, but to be on this side of it is very uncomfortable.”
But no less deserving, said Sharon Stevens, herself a Living Legend who serves as GSLABJ’s historian and is a member of its advisory board.
“Adella and I worked together at KTVI, which is now Fox 2, and Adella held a variety of positions,” said Stevens, a longtime television reporter. “She was at one point one of the assignment editors, and she was just very good at her job, making sure that we got to where we were going and came up with really good ideas for stories for us to cover – whatever we hadn’t come up with on our own. An assignment manager basically has to keep things moving in a newsroom, and she was very good at doing that.
“On the public relations end of it, she was always that person we could talk to. She would get you an answer, and she always wanted you to not only have what was accurate, but if there was a story out there that she thought was interesting, regarding whomever she was working for, she always let us know about that too. Easy to work with. Very knowledgeable. Smart.”
Jones began her career at KTVI in 1984 after graduating with a degree in communications with an emphasis in radio and television from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
She spent six years at the station before moving into a series of positions in public relations, including as the public information officer for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis press secretary for former Congressman Richard Gephardt, the vice president of community and government affairs at the Bi-State Development Agency and Metro Transit and the senior director of messaging at the Centene Corporation. She began her current role supporting UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik on Jan. 18.
Throughout her career, Jones has actively engaged with GSLABJ.
“The organization supports and applauds excellence in journalism,” Jones said. “Over time it has always been engaged in the conversation about journalism, and specifically, how coverage impacts the Black community and the Black communicator, whether they be a journalist or professional communicator in another area. Informing and mentoring people in the profession and really just engaging communities in the discussion and the impact of what we do on the Black community.”
She took particular pride in helping prepare future generations for success in the profession through GSLABJ’s Minority Journalism Workshop, which recently marked its 45th year.
Jones spent five years as the director of the workshop in the 1990s when it was held at Lucas Hall on the UMSL campus.
“It was a perfect setup because you had the radio station right there,” said Jones, referring to St. Louis Public Radio’s original studio. “Mary Edwards was working with us like she was a member. She would contact me way before the workshop and say, ‘When are we going to get started?’ and she would work with our students. We had the large lecture hall, and then there was the studio that was there that made it easy for our students to work together and produce a newscast.”
Between 70 and 80 high school juniors and seniors – and a few college freshmen – would take part in those Saturday sessions and get to try their hand at different disciplines in the world of journalism and communications, including photography, public relations, radio, television and print.
“It was a perfect vehicle to engage with your peers in a noncompetitive setting,” Jones said, “but you actually got to work together bringing on the next generation of professional communicators.”
Many of those students looked to follow her example and that of her colleagues, like Drummond and Johnson, as they embarked on their own careers.
KMOV (Channel 4) produced the video below highlighting Jones and her career for The Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. It played during the Living Legends event on Nov. 12.
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=95805