MPA announces 2024 Newspaper Hall of Fame inductees

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Missouri Press Association announces 2024 Newspaper Hall of Fame inductees

Four inductees will join the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame on Sept. 20, during the Missouri Press Association’s 158th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Springfield. The 2024 class is the 34th group to be inducted since the Hall of Fame was established in 1991.

This year’s inductees are Doug Kneibert, former editor of the Sedalia Democrat; Mike O’Brien, former editor and columnist for the Springfield News-Leader; Dianne Elizabeth Osis, founding publisher of Springfield Business Journal; and Michael Stair, former city editor for The Joplin Globe.

Hall of Fame inductees or their families receive Pinnacle Awards in honor of the inductees’ service to the Missouri newspaper industry and their communities. Inductees’ plaques will join the permanent display of inductees in the MPA office in Columbia and in the student lounge in Lee Hills Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism.

— Doug Kneibert —

Described by many as a “quintessential newspaperman,” Doug Kneibert started his career at The Kansas City Star in 1964 after completing his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism. Three years later, he joined the Sedalia Democrat’s staff as managing editor, being promoted to editor in 1971, a job he held for more than 20 years.

While his brusque manner was often noted initially, Mr. Kneibert also was known as a kind and sympathetic mentor who provided even-tempered guidance. Through his efforts, the Democrat provided a quality of news coverage unmatched by many larger newspapers.

In 1970, three years after Mr. Kneibert joined the Sedalia Democrat, it was presented the Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism by the MU School of Journalism. The Democrat took five first-place awards for general excellence in MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest during Mr. Kneibert’s editorship, plus many other first-place awards.

Mr. Kneibert kept a watchful eye over the Democrat’s news staff, which was made up of young Missouri J-School-trained journalists looking to get experience before moving on to other publications. He took pride in writing daily local editorials plus a weekly column that made it clear where the newspaper stood politically, but kept opinions to the editorial pages, expecting reporters to be objective watchdogs who looked out for the public interest.

Besides his news career, Mr. Kneibert served as president of the Mid-America Press Institute, the Sedalia Council on the Arts, the Sedalia Symphony Society, the Sedalia Kiwanis Club and the Pettis County Pachyderm Club.

After leaving the Democrat in 1996, Kneibert became a free-lance journalist, writing articles for Catholic newspapers and magazines. In 2023, he helped advise the Missouri Photo Workshop when it returned to Sedalia, having helped bring the workshop to Sedalia in 1980. He continues to keep his hand in through columns he writes for the Democrat at age 88.

— Mike O’Brien —

For almost 60 years, Mike O’Brien has been a driving force in keeping Southwest Missourians informed and entertained thanks to his nose for news, informative columns, photography work and remarkable knowledge on how to present a story that grabs readers’ attention. And that work almost completely hinged on his summer internship with Springfield Newspapers in 1966 overlooking the fact he was an advertising major at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Still, after graduating in 1967, O’Brien joined the dual Springfield Leader & Press and Springfield Daily News operation and remained there through its merger into the Springfield News-Leader. He left the newsroom in 1987 as associate editor but continued as a columnist for another 20 years.

Throughout his career, O’Brien has embraced the future of the profession, from setting up Springfield Newspapers’ first computer system and teaching colleagues how to use it to his unselfish commitment of helping younger people develop and hone their skills. Wise and full of helpful advice, “OB” is regarded as a true master of the journalist’s craft and described as “the best role model and mentor a budding journalist could ask for.”

Over the years, O’Brien has been asked to return to the newspaper to provide new reporters with a lesson on all aspects of the job and share the history of the Ozarks. O’Brien’s departure from the News-Leader proved to be the journalism profession’s gain as he joined the faculty of Missouri State University and later, Drury University, to train the next generations of journalists, a role he continues to fulfill.

Adept at adapting, O’Brien has worked in all the newsroom roles of a print newspaper, but he is, at his heart, a beat reporter. Today, O’Brien’s beat is writing occasional feature stories for the non-profit Springfield Daily Citizen and writing on social media about community issues that interest him.

— Dianne Elizabeth Osis —

Dianne Elizabeth Osis produced her first newspaper, Top’s Executive Journal, in July 1980 from her kitchen table with only an academic background in journalism. Standing for The Ozarks Pulse, it was inspired by a similar publication from her time working at a law firm in Tulsa, Okla. and was the first business journal in Missouri.

The newspaper, initially published every other week, limped along in its early years because people in the area were not familiar with the business journal concept. Osis persisted because she believed the newspaper model could work in Springfield, and in 1983, the publication was renamed as Springfield Business Journal, bringing new success.

A move into Springfield’s fledgling downtown in the mid-1980s, combined with Osis’ determination meant the newspaper embraced the up-and-coming area and in turn the businesses supported SBJ. She would further show her commitment to the downtown by purchasing and renovating a former hotel to serve as the newspaper’s offices.

Community leaders credit Osis’ vision and commitment as a significant factor in the revitalization of Springfield’s downtown, helping to build confidence with others in the area and inspire a resurgence of investment over the following years.

Regularly volunteering for community efforts, Osis is an example of an unselfish leader and seen as “a model for a civic-minded journalist” with many of the same traits that made her a good journalist also applying to her work on various boards and committees.

Osis’ work as one of the first female business journal publishers in the nation broke barriers and paved the way for other women in the industry, including her daughter, Jennifer Jackson, who succeeded Osis as publisher of SBJ in 2011 and as president of SBJ Publishing in 2017. Her commitment to journalism and mentorship of aspiring journalists continues to have a lasting impact, fostering growth and success of countless individuals during her career.

— Michael Stair —

Equal parts challenging, exacting and encouraging, Michael Stair knew how to get the best out of reporters in the newsroom. His clear love for newspapers and the power of the written word were evident throughout his more than 56 years, beginning part-time in 1967 with the Joplin Globe and the Joplin News Herald, to becoming a general assignment reporter in 1971 after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism the year before and through his retirement at the end of 2023.

In 1980, Stair was named the Globe’s city editor and became the man on the watchtower night after night for decades, ensuring interns, graduates fresh from college and seasoned journalists produced the best reporting possible. His name didn’t appear in the Globe often, but the copy that filled its pages was better for having gone across his desk.

Remembered fondly, if not a bit fearfully, for his scrutiny of stories and any failures of journalistic integrity, Stair’s attention to detail in the newsroom was well known and well respected. The reputations of the Globe newspaper and countless members of its staff over the years can thank Stair for his diligence.

The effectiveness of his techniques proved influential as others who learned from Stair have adopted the “Michael Stair eye,” editing in anticipation of the kinds of calls their former editor would make from the copy desk, as he looked for missing sources in a story, sought clarification for a passage or asked for citation of important information.

For a newspaperman like Stair, his is a life spent in journalism in service to his community. Because of this, it is difficult to overstate his impact on generations of journalists and legions of readers across a career guided by the principle of providing information in a clear, accurate and fair way, all for the benefit of readers and anything less than that was unacceptable.

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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Photos of inductees:
Doug Kneibert HOF
Mike O’Brien HOF
Dianne Elizabeth Osis HOF
Michael Stair HOF

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