|State Journal photo by Suzanne Feliciano|
Frankfort, population 25,000, is the fourth smallest state capital in the U.S., so The State Journal is a community paper that covers state government, the top local employer. West came to the daily after an award-winning career as a Washington reporter, and brought a hard-nosed attitude to political and government coverage, displayed most publicly in his role as the recurring panelist on what was the state's best public-affairs interview show.
West, a native of Northern Kentucky, brought something else to the state from Washington: the idea for a book fair like the one he helped start as a member of the National Press Club. With the newspaper's help, the Kentucky Book Fair became an institution in the state, and is being taken over by the Kentucky Humanities Council, headed by former U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles.
Ed Staats, retired Kentucky chief of The Associated Press told The State Journal in 2003, when they went into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame together, that West “set a high journalistic standard for the countless reporters, editors and photographers he has hired over the years. In addition, Carl brought a deep knowledge and a strong interest in politics to the job – essential elements for a strong newspaper in a capital city.” For The State Journal's obituary of West, click here.
West's leadership of the book fair, and his strong career in journalism, won him last year's Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism, given by the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog. West struggled to overcome health issues to attend the awards dinner, but gave a rip-roaring defense of public-service journalism in his acceptance speech, his final public remarks. Here's a video: