the ultimate father’s choice about journalism’s ultimate honor
By Joe Hight, 2013 Inductee
Scott Thompson had to make a choice in early 2019–attend his son’s concert at Princeton University or his induction into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
I had called to inform him that he had been chosen by the 10-member Selection Committee for induction with the 49th class. However, all inductees are required to attend the induction ceremony or face having the nominations resubmitted for consideration the next year.
For most of his career in Tulsa television, as many in his field do, the five-time national Edward R. Murrow Award winner had to work evenings. When his son, Will, was born in 1995, he was a weekend anchor who worked three evenings a week as a reporter. By the time Jack was born in 1999, Thompson was a nightly anchor.
The schedule gave him time to spend days with his children. But in the evenings, “I never had dinner with them,” Thompson said in that distinctive voice of a news anchor. “That really got to me.”
He did say he would rush home to read books to his sons during the evenings, but then had to “dash back to read the news” on air.
So, when the first call about his induction came, Thompson’s choice was easy. “I didn’t want to miss any more of my children’s events,” he said. “I had done that my entire career.”
While other members were being inducted into the 2019 Hall of Fame, Thompson was on his way to New Jersey to hear Jack play the bassoon in the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. An audition the year before had helped garner Jack’s acceptance into the Ivy League Princeton, one of the 1,100 admitted out of 47,000 applications. His oldest son, Will, is in the doctoral program at the University of Delaware.
“The concert was beautiful,” said Thompson, who admitted his sons may be smarter because he read books to them and they never watched his nightly newscasts because of the content.
Several months later, I made a second call to Thompson to inform him that he had been chosen for the 50th class. I had told him in the first call that I respected his decision and hinted that, while not guaranteed, he probably would be selected the next year.
This time, there were no fatherly conflicts on April 24, 2020, three days after his 59th birthday. He could attend.
Scott Thompson and the KOTV News crew during his final newscast in 2017.
Scott Thompson with his sons, Will and Jack.