Sedalia Democrat contributing columnist and former editor Doug Kneibert is among the honorees selected for induction in the Missouri Press Association's Newspaper Hall of Fame, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

Those previously honored by the Missouri Press Association have included Pulitzer-prize namesake Joseph Pulitzer, University of Missouri-Columbia Journalism School pioneer Walter Williams, Mark Twain, as well as the Kansas City Star's Roy Roberts and Joe McGuff among others.

Windsor Review contributor Kevin Lujin initiated and helped organize the effort to recognize Kneibert's career while former Sedalia Democrat Managing Editor Lisa Church identified individuals to write letters supporting Kneibert's nomination as well as compiling and submitting the formal nomination to the Missouri Press Association.

To be eligible for selection,the Missouri Press Association requires living nominees to meet the following five criteria:

1. The nominee has shown exemplary contributions to the newspaper industry during a period of at least 20
years prior to being nominated.
2. The nominee has lived honorably.
3. The nominee has influenced unselfishly.
4. The nominee has thought soundly.
5. The nominee has displayed community involvement.

Kneibert, a United States Navy veteran often seen working on a column in his faded, Navy baseball cap, joined the Sedalia Democrat in the late 1960s while the paper was under the leadership of the Scruton family.  Kneibert would become the paper's editor in 1971 and continue in that role through the mid-1990s.

During Kneibert's tenure as editor, the Sedalia Democrat would often use both its news pages to cover and editorials to advocate on behalf of issues and people of local, national, and international concern. One such example includes Kneibert's effort to encourage the community to recognize the work of Scott Joplin.  Kneibert would go on to serve on the first organizing committee, led by friend Larry Melton, for what has now become an annual, international festival.

Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin
Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin

Kneibert's Democrat, during K.U. Love's time as publisher, also gave two reporters over two months to investigate and cover what had become a community-wide drug epidemic with the newspaper's four-part series titled "The Heroin Connection."  Under Kneibert's leadership, the newspaper challenged and criticized both the local, Democrat machine-style politics many said was ruled by Walter "Heine" Cramer as well as actions by area Republican officials such as former Sedalia Mayor Larry Foster.

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The Missouri Press Association's announcement about his induction included the following details that many who have spent time with Kneibert, either inside and outside the Sedalia Democrat, have experienced for 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," the release states.  "Through his efforts, the Democrat provided a quality of news coverage unmatched by many larger newspapers."

Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin
Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin

Kneibert's religious faith has been important in his journalism career as well since he regularly contributed freelance articles to Roman Catholic publications during the years between his time as editor but before returning as a contributing columnist at the Democrat.  Kneibert is a regular attendee at Sacred Heart Catholic Church that is part of the St. Vincent De Paul Parish in Sedalia.

The induction for the 2024 honorees will take place on September 20th in Springfield, Missouri at the Missouri Press Association's 158th Annual Convention.  Those inducted along with Kneibert will be the Springfield News-Leader's Mike O'Brien, the Springfield Business Journal's Dianne Elizabeth Osis, and the Joplin Globe's Michael Stair.

Kneibert joins several other Pettis County journalists receiving Hall of Fame recognition by the Missouri Press Association.  The Windsor Review's James C. Kirkpatrick and the Sedalia Democrat's Ron Jennings were inducted into the Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1991 and 2011, respectively.  The Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame counts among its members Sedalia Democrat photojournalist Sydney Brink as well as Wilson Hicks.  Hicks, who served as the longtime Managing Editor for Life Magazine, first worked as a reporter for the Sedalia Capital and was raised in Sedalia.  Hicks graduated from what was then known as Sedalia High School where he served as the editor of the student newspaper as well as editor of the school's first yearbook.

Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin
Kevin Lujin/Copyright and property of Kevin Lujin

In the photos:

Kneibert- Sedalia Democrat Contributing Columnist Doug Kneibert at the Heckart Community Center in January 2024.
20220728_094102- Doug Kneibert asked then-United States Senate candidate Eric Schmitt a question during a July 2022 campaign stop at Sedalia's Best Western State Fair Inn.

20230429_1109411loweresedit and 20230429_11019lowresedit- Doug Kneibert spoke with several attendees near 2nd and Ohio Avenue at the 2023 Sedalia Ukrainian Festival as part of a column he was writing for the Sedalia Democrat.

-- Submitted by Kevin Lujin/Courtesy of the Windsor Review

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