The Acadiana Advocate’s Ken Stickney joined Discover Lafayette to share his life story as a career journalist. He is a man with a compassionate heart who truly loves what he does for a living.
Ken is a native New Englander who grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, just north of Boston. He moved to the Deep South more than 40 years ago to complete his education – and stayed. It was on a whim that he joined his brother to visit New Orleans one holiday on a fun road trip, and he became enthralled with our region. He ended up studying philosophy at a Jesuit university, Spring Hill College, in Alabama. He’s always found the South a fascinating place, particularly Louisiana.
He has since spent 42 years in the newspaper business, almost all of it in the Deep South or in Gulf Coast states, and has held almost every newsroom position from reporter to editor. He has worked for Louisiana newspapers in Monroe, Lake Charles, and Lafayette since 1999. Once he moved to Louisiana, he took a course in Louisiana history so that he could understand our state and its rich legacy.
Ken’s focus has always been on how the news he’s reporting affects the people involved and their neighborhoods, as well as who they were. Issues such as zoning can profoundly impact people’s quality of life and the value of their homes, and his reporting has reflected those realities. He recalled when the legendary Alabama coach, Bear Bryant, died in 1982 and he was asked to cover the burial; a highlight of that sad event was seeing Joe Namath at the burial ceremony.
During his career, he has chronicled events in communities from McComb, Mississippi to Tuscaloosa (twice), from Atlanta to Port Arthur, Texas. He has handled news beats from public safety to higher education, business to religion. In a staffing pinch, he spent two weeks handling the recipes for a mid-South daily newspaper’s society pages. He has written about murders and rescues, birth announcements, and obituaries.
He spoke of how over his years of reporting the South has evolved from being a unique region, with its own mannerisms, customs, and politics, into a homogenous area more akin to the rest of the country.
In 2009, Ken Stickney was awarded the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ top national award for editorial writing, and he has won or shared national, regional and state news writing awards, as well as editorial and column writing awards across the South. He has worked for Louisiana newspapers in Monroe, Lake Charles, and Lafayette since 1999 and is currently with the Acadiana Advocate.
A longtime “non-traditional” student, Stickney holds an associate’s in liberal arts from North Shore Community College in Massachusetts; a bachelor’s in philosophy from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama; a master’s in communication from The University of Alabama, where he was a Graduate Council Fellow; and a master’s in history from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He has been an adjunct college instructor in communications and history.
Ken has written a thesis on World War II correspondent John Henry, the father of one of his close friends who was a sportswriter for the Hearst News service. Henry covered the Departments of the Army and Navy from five continents during WWII, a fete probably not matched by any other journalist. Among other places, Henry was stationed at Casablanca along with Walter Cronkite; his papers are now at the WWII Museum in New Orleans. Mr. Henry’s life inspired Ken.
With the funding awarded by a grant, Ken had the opportunity to tour Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1984 to interview Japanese civilians about the aftermath of the bombing, an experience of a lifetime.
Ken also wrote a thesis on Unionist newspaper editor James G. Taliaferro of Catahoula Parish and has completed a draft of a biography on a Louisiana oilman, C. Paul Hilliard.
He and former Lafayette newswoman Blue Rolfes are co-researching a book on the three sainthood causes being pursued in the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette.
In 2015, Ken began a health journey that led to prostate cancer surgery in May 2022. He recently wrote a column in the Advocate about that challenge and the lessons it taught him. The prognosis of cancer hit him like a “ton of bricks.” His faith, love of family, and excellent medical care carried him through the challenges and he is now on the mend one-month post-surgery, feeling good even though recovery has been tough. Ken is grateful and says, “I want to be there when my grandkids, with my granddaughter at her wedding, stepping on her toes when I’m dancing with her at her wedding!”
Ken Stickney has been married to the former Ellen Carey Creagan for 40 years; they have one son and three daughters – all Louisianians of whom he is greatly proud.
We thank Ken for taking the time to share his story with us! Best wishes for a continued successful career in journalism.