Longtime RJ editor going into Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame

Updated September 29, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Don Ham’s name rarely graced the pages of the Review-Journal, but the longtime editor’s fingerprints left an indelible mark on nearly every story big and small throughout his storied career in Nevada.

Ham, who retired in 2016, will be inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Nevada Press Association’s annual banquet at Palace Station. The ceremony will put a bow on Ham’s 43-year career in newspapers that included 32 years in the Silver State and 21 as an editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“No one worked harder or was more dedicated to the craft of journalism than Don, who, by the way, is also a really nice guy,” said Mary Hynes, who worked alongside Ham on the Review-Journal’s city desk for more than a decade. “The professionalism and high standards he demonstrated day in and day out benefited not only our reporters and editors but also our community of readers.”

Ham was fascinated by everything and tried to encourage that same curiosity in his reporters, Review-Journal reporter Henry Brean said.

“He still sends me news tips about things going on in the community he thinks ought to be in the newspaper,” Brean said.

Ham, 69, began his career in news as a reporter for the Daily Republic in Fairfield, California, followed by stints as an editor throughout Southern California at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, for weeklies in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and at the Lompoc Record.

In 1984, he was named editor of the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, where he worked for 11 years. An ardent champion of open government, Ham won numerous awards from the Nevada Press Association during his time with the Appeal for his work advocating for stronger open meeting laws in Nevada.

One such instance that stands out to Ham involved the Douglas County Commission. One of Ham’s reporters discovered that a special committee had submitted a report that the county wanted to be kept secret. The Appeal brought that to the attention of the Nevada attorney general’s office, which challenged the commission in a case that set state precedent on how committees are subject to the state’s open meeting laws.

“Few people are more deserving of a place in the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame than Don Ham,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “During his years as editor of the Nevada Appeal, Don was one of the state’s strongest and most influential advocates of open government and access to public records. And during his two decades at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Don had a hand in coordinating and executing coverage of every big news story that broke in Southern Nevada. It was next to impossible to chase him out of the newsroom, no matter how many hours he put in.”

Ham joined the Review-Journal in 1995 as a senior copy editor and left an indelible mark almost immediately. Ever the stickler for details and style,

Ham led the charge in creating and posting on the RJ’s new intranet and then put what the Associated Press said was the first newspaper to put AP’s style book on an intranet.

By 1996, Ham became an assistant city editor. He mentored many a reporter over the next two decades and helped guide coverage on some of the biggest stories in state history, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the Bundy standoff in Bunkerville and the historic presidential elections of 2008 and 2016.

Through the years, Ham never lost the inquisitive nature that drew him to newspapers after he had majored in physics at California State Polytechnic University.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Ham said.

He said his favorite part was working directly with the reporters, analyzing every potential angle and aspect of a story.

Even if it involved feces.

Former Review-Journal reporter Jamie Munks remembers working on a story not long after she was hired in 2016 about the Life is Beautiful music festival in downtown Las Vegas and how the homeless living near Foremaster Lane and Main Street were being pushed out of the festival’s footprint.

Munks said she and Ham had talked several times about the story, and that Ham told her that she was likely to find human feces in streets in her reporting for the story.

“I went up there probably three times during that time period, and I never personally saw any poop in the streets,” Munks said.

So she filed the story on a Friday, sans any references to said fecal matter, only to get a call from Ham later that night wondering what happened to the feces.

“We talked about feces in the streets. Feces,” Munks said she recalls Ham saying during that call.

The feces never made it in the story, Munks said, “but it’s probably one of my favorite Review-Journal stories.”

“Don was so helpful right away. He was such a wealth of knowledge, especially with so many new people coming in at that point,” Munks said. “I learned a lot from him.”

“Some people probably wondered why I came to work with a smile on my face,” Ham said. “That’s the reason. I figured that in some way, I had a positive influence on what reporters wrote.”

And now, with his four-plus decades of nailing down every little detail and fact for stories, Ham is dabbling in a different side of his curiosity.

Since retiring, he’s been working on his first novel, a science-fiction story involving artificial intelligence and otherworldly beings. True to form, though, Ham has been reading books on astrophysics to ensure that, even in fiction, he gets the smallest of details correct.

But he’s also realized there’s a little flexibility when it comes to writing fiction.

“I don’t have to check the facts anymore,” Ham said. “I can make things up!”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Extreme weather closes Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon
High winds and flooding closed the Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area Thursday. Minor flooding across Highway 159 caused drivers to slow, but didn't close the road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists enjoy rain in downtown Las Vegas
Tourists break out the umbrellas. But Brian Herting of Lincoln, Nebraska, dons shorts and a T-shirt, as he makes his way through downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday. The National Weather Service.forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse video of fog covering the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is shrouded in fog Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Spilotro's Las Vegas home for sale — VIDEO
The former Las Vegas home of Chicago mob enforcer, Tony Spilotro, is now for sale. Spilotro, who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino, is the original owner of the home at 4675 Balfour Drive, built in 1974. (Samia DeCubas/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffalo Drive And Mountains Edge Parkway Fatal
Las Vegas police and the Nevada Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash in the southwest valley on Saturday afternoon. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Joel Ntambwe on his play
UNLV forward Joel Ntambwe talks about his play at this point in the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sam Schmidt chats about hectic off-season
IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt and lead driver James Hinchcliffe chat about the hectic off-season at the SpeedVegas high-performance driving facility outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory at New Mexico. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
UNLV's Noah Robotham on the win at New Mexico
UNLV guard Noah Robotham talks about winning at New Mexico on Jan. 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Kris Clyburn on big 3 vs. New Mexico
UNLV guard Kris Clyburn talks about his key 3-pointer against New Mexico. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marvin Menzies on beating New Mexico
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about UNLV's win at New Mexico on January 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New HOV Ramp Scheduled to Open in March
New HOV ramp scheduled to open in March of 2019.
American Preparatory Academy part of charter school growth in Las Vegas
American Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas has a waiting list of students who want to attend. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wheelchair tournament at UNLV
Cesar Robledo talks about wheelchair basketball and what it means for players to compete during the Wheelchair Basketball Division I-II Tournament at UNLV in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Marvin Menzies on UNLV's trip to Hawaii
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the upcoming trip to Hawaii. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Pinecrest Academy Horizon principal wins Milken Educator Award
Tony Sanchez on UNLV's recruiting class
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about his early signing class. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Siegel Cares delivers bagels to families in need
Since Thanksgiving, Mark Lenoir of Siegel Cares, has been delivering leftover Bagelmania bagels to families staying at the Siegel Suites.
Dan Barnson steps down
Arbor View football coach Dan Barnson stepped down Friday after 12 seasons at the helm. Under Barnson, the Aggies won 104 games and became one of the top programs in Las Vegas. The Aggies went 12-2 in 2018 and won a region championship for the first time in program history. Barnson loves Friday nights, but said the 12-month commitment was getting exhausting.
NFR 2018 Highlights
NFR 2018 highlights from every round of this years rodeo.
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada. (CBS Sports Network/PRCA)
NFR- Joe Frost
NFR Bull Rider Joe Frost talks about the difference in bulls and his family legacy with Cassie Soto before the last round of the National Finals Rodeo.
Herm Edwards on LV Bowl loss
Arizona State coach Herm Edwards talks about the loss in the Las Vegas Bowl. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State linebacker George Helmuth after LV Bowl
Linebacker George Helmuth talks about Fresno State's turnaround. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like