Journalists from Lake of the Ozarks, Jefferson City newspapers named 2024’s OYJs

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Journalists from Lake of the Ozarks, Jefferson City newspapers named 2024’s OYJs

In recognition of their commitment and excellence, two journalists have been selected by Missouri Press Association to receive this year’s William E. James Outstanding Young Journalist award.

MPA President Amos Bridges announced Ryan Pivoney of Jefferson City and Jordyn Wilson of Lake Ozark will receive their awards Sept. 21, in Springfield, during the Association’s 158th Annual Convention and Trade Show awards luncheon.

“We are recognizing the 16th year for this award, with its 12th being named in honor of our late colleague, William E. James,” said Bridges, editor-in-chief of the Springfield News-Leader. “Missouri Press recognizes the critical importance of celebrating young talent and showing our appreciation for the dedication these journalists give to our very demanding profession.”

“This year, we’re recognizing two individuals, one from the daily that covers the Show-Me State’s capital city and the other from a semi-weekly covering one of our state’s most well-known destinations for visitors from around Missouri and outside of it,” Bridges said. “Although these are very different communities, they provide unique reporting challenges that Jordyn and Ryan have shown themselves capable of facing head-on.”

Ryan Pivoney

Ryan Pivoney joined the Jefferson City News Tribune in May 2021, shortly after his graduation from Truman State University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student-run The Index. His initial beat was covering state government news and Lincoln University, made all the more daunting because he was hired to replace longtime community legend Bob Watson following his untimely death.

News Tribune Editor Gary Castor wrote in Pivoney’s nomination that the “fresh out of journalism school” reporter tackled the role successfully, crediting a foundation of good journalistic skills combined with curiosity, dedication and humility.

“Ryan could have easily been overwhelmed with the duties of such a critical beat at our newspaper,” Castor wrote. “Yet he rose to the challenge because he had that solid foundation in journalism. He knew the questions to ask of sources and he possessed the confidence to ask them.

“More importantly, he knew he had a lot to learn, and he asked questions of his peers in hopes of improving his skills and his confidence in this new job. He put his ego aside and listened to the criticism and encouragement, realizing he could learn from both,” Castor added.

With exceptional organizational skills and extensive experience, Pivoney has become a pivotal player in the News Tribune’s daily coverage, managing long-term projects in the newsroom and helping to direct the newspaper’s other reporting staff. In January 2023, he was promoted to assistant city editor.

“Most importantly, Ryan listens well,” Castor wrote. “To this day, Ryan’s first questions are almost always how he can help when an opportunity presents itself and how might he better his skills and service. He listens to his source’s answers to his questions, looking for opportunities to delve deeper into the subject.

“And he uses those listening skills to understand the questions of his reporting staff, as well as to discern how he can best help them achieve success,” Castor continued. “We all would do well to follow this approach.”

Jordyn Wilson

Jordyn Wilson joined The Lake Sun, Osage Beach, in August 2022, fresh out of earning her multimedia journalism degree from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where she had been editor of The Simpsonian. Raised in a community of fewer than 500 people, Wilson wanted to work for a newspaper that had a direct impact on the local community.

Lake Sun Editor Dan Field wrote in his nomination of Wilson that 2022 was a tough time for a college graduate looking to break into the journalism field. Wilson, who had family connections in central Missouri, also learned that community newspapers like the Lake Sun put focus on “refrigerator journalism,” rather than chasing the next big story.

“Jordyn wasn’t deterred,” Field wrote. “With her small-town background, she fit in immediately and had the insight to ask the right questions when writing stories about everything from local events to government.

“Her Midwest values are often called upon in her coverage of local events and government,” Field added. “She actually relished the opportunity to cover Camden County Commission meetings along with the Village of Four Seasons Trustees, two vastly different government entities.”

Wilson built bridges with each group but did not shy away from controversial issues, Field continued, and because of her work, she gained the trust and respect of both governmental bodies.

In addition to her reporting duties, late last year Wilson took on editor duties for the newspaper’s tourist-driven publication, Vacation News.

“Jordyn is a conscientious reporter and writer, verifying her information and quotes. Although she is a novice reporter, she has learned from her mentors and has used that knowledge to broaden the depth of her reporting and writing,” Field wrote. “Jordyn epitomizes the role of a young reporter and journalist.”

Winners of the William E. James Outstanding Young Journalist Award have demonstrated excellence in the field of journalism and maintained the quality, ethics and standards of The Journalist’s Creed, written by Walter Williams, founding dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

During the Missouri Press Foundation Better Newspaper Contest awards luncheon, Sept. 21, at the Hotel Vandivort in Springfield, winners will be presented a plaque and a $500 check.

Editors or publishers submit nominations for the awards and nominees must have been younger than 30 years old on Jan. 1, 2024. The aim of the award is to reinforce the importance of a journalist’s role by recognizing and nurturing talent to further promote quality journalism.

William E. “Bill” James, the namesake for this award, served as publisher of the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal from November 2007 until his death in November 2013. He was publisher of the Cass County Democrat-Missourian in Harrisonville from 1985 to 2000 and was president of the Missouri Press Association in 1998. He was inducted into the MPA Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2001.

About MPA
Missouri Press Association was founded in 1867 by Missouri newspaper editors and publishers. Today, MPA has more than 200 member newspapers representing every Missouri county, along with many more news websites and other organizations. Members play a key role in their communities, keeping local citizens informed, stimulating local commerce and fostering economic development. Headquartered in Columbia, the Association works with Missouri Press Service and Missouri Press Foundation to preserve the history of the newspaper industry, promote the journalism profession throughout the world and protect the free flow of information through legislation such as Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

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Photo of Ryan Pivoney
Photo of Jordyn Wilson

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