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Columbia Missourian

Great journalism alumni from the past foreshadow students’ possible futures

By George Kennedy
September 11, 2008 | 11:53 a.m. CDT

An old-timer's note to readers:

I've been associated with the Missourian - as a student, city editor, managing editor and now weekly columnist - for half my adult life. This centennial celebration, with its swarm of visiting dignitaries, reminds me of one of the greatest pleasures of that association. I mean the chance to work with people who have distinguished themselves in journalism or elsewhere.

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A good many of them have been around this week. These are a few whose work has informed, entertained and occasionally irritated faithful Missourian readers over the years.

Martin Frost was my classmate. We learned under the patient tutelage of the late Bill Bickley and Phil Norman, and the less-patient correctives of the legendary Tom Duffy and Dale Spencer. After a stint with me at the Wilmington News-Journal in Deleware, Martin wised up, went to law school and spent two decades representing a Texas district in Congress. He was here this week speaking on a subject he knows well — the importance of open government and aggressive journalism.

And speaking of aggressive, community service journalism, another of the week's panels featured four former Missourian reporters who have gone on to win journalism's highest honor, the Pulitzer prize. Steve Fainaru and James Grimaldi, both from the class of 1984, won their Pulitzers at the Washington Post where the assistant managing editor for investigations is Jeff Leen. Leen received his master's degree at MU in 1982, won the award at the Miami Herald and now directs a team that wins handfuls of these things. Mike McGraw, MA '72, won his Pulitzer at the Kansas City Star, where he's still digging.

The publishers and editors roundtable Thursday afternoon demonstrates what a powerful launching pad the Missourian can be. There were Janet Coats, BJ '84, editor of the Tampa Tribune; Pam Maples, BJ '79, editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Ken Paulson, BJ '75, editor of USA Today; Marty Petty, BJ '75, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times; Mark Russell, BJ '84, managing editor of the Orlando Sentinel; Lewis Duiguid, BJ '77, vice president of the Kansas City Star; and Michael Golden, MA '78, vice chairman of the New York Times Co.

The intriguing question for today's Missourian readers is who will be the stars of the decades to come.

George Kennedy, BJ '64, was the Missourian's managing editor from 1990-2001