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Doug Proffitt gives induction speech for Melissa Forsythe into KY Journalism Hall of Fame

"Melissa broke big stories as a reporter and she had a source list that was the envy of the city and our newsroom."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of Louisville's best-known television journalists was posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame Thursday afternoon.

The late WHAS11 News anchor Melissa Forsythe is known for her trailblazing career as the first woman to be a TV reporter and then weekday anchor in Louisville from 1972 to 1991.

She died at her home at the age of 71 in February 2022.

Her family was in Lexington for the ceremony held by the University of Kentucky.

Forsythe's sister, Cynthia Gibbs, said she's honored her sister was chosen.

"There weren't many women doing her job at the time, and there, again, I don't think she thought of it as 'I'm a woman doing this job,' its 'I'm the best person doing this job,'" she said.

Credit: Doug Proffitt/WHAS-TV
Melissa Forsythe's biography (pictured above) details her journalism career.

Because of her history with WHAS11, Gibbs asked WHAS11 News' own Doug Proffitt to give the induction speech honoring Forsythe.

“She says ‘Well, if it were me, I’d go home, get a couple hours of sleep, you need to stay on the story, and get back up there,’” Proffitt said.

Proffitt said it was a true honor for him since he worked with Forsythe twice; once when he was a high school intern at WHAS, and then later as a full-time reporter.

"Melissa broke big stories as a reporter and she had a source list that was the envy of the city and our newsroom," he said.

She started at WAVE right out of college, joining WHAS11 in 1979. An Indiana native, she brought her reporting skills to the anchor desk.


"Presidential inaugurations, major court trials, and then our endless Kentucky Derby coverage; adlibbing it all, she was a serious journalist. But I know she had to laugh," Proffitt said. "Melissa's Derby hats became the talk of the town. People would ask us weeks in advance, 'What's she going to wear?'"

The response to her death has been enormous; people remember her for her detail, accuracy and fairness.

"She was dignified, she was classy, intelligent, she sought the true story to put it out there and gave it everything she had," Gibbs said.


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