2022 Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame Inductees are Announced

Monday, July 11, 2022 - 11:15am

Six inductees will join the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame during ceremonies to be held Saturday, October 22, 2022, at The Graduate Hotel, 141 N. 9th St., in Lincoln, NE.

2022 inductees are Tim Anderson, associate professor emeritus, UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications; John Bender, associate dean and journalism professor, UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications; Lee Ostdiek, former editor of the Blue Hill Leader; Russ and Lori Pankonin, former co-publishers of the Imperial Republican, Grant Tribune-Sentinel and Wauneta Breeze; and Tom Southard (posthumously), longtime sports writer for the Kimball Western Nebraska Observer.

 The Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Nebraska Press Association and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications. This award honors those distinguished persons who have made significant contributions to journalism in their communities, the state, or the nation. Since the first Hall of Fame ceremony in 1975, 118 honorees have been inducted.  Russ and Lori Pankonin are the first husband and wife team to be inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame.

TIM ANDERSON, Lincoln, NE – A native of Oakland, NE, Tim taught news design, advanced editing, magazine editing and design, beginning reporting, depth reporting, and a graduate seminar in media management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Before returning to teach at UNL in 2005, he worked for more than 30 years in newspapers in Nebraska, Missouri, Florida and New York.  He got his start at his hometown weekly newspaper, the Oakland Independent, and also worked for the Albion News and the Seward County Independent. In addition, Tim worked for the Lincoln Journal and the Omaha World-Herald, the Kansas City (MO) Times, the Fort Myers (FL) News-Press and the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. He later spent nine years at New York Newsday, eventually becoming executive news editor, and another nine years at The New York Times, where he served as the news design editor.

Tim earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UNL in 1974 and a master’s degree in history from UNL in 2007.

Tim is author of Lonesome Dreamer, a biography of John G. Neihardt, published in 2016. The Neihardt Foundation honored him with the Word Sender Award in 2017, presented annually to someone dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the life and works of Neihardt.   

JOHN BENDER, Lincoln, NE – John Bender is associate dean, professor of journalism and advocate for the First Amendment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and has taught at the college or university level for more than 35 years.  He joined the faculty of UNL in 1990, and before that he was an assistant professor of journalism at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo.

 In 2007, Bender received the College Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2011, he received the James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award for his work in promoting academic freedom in high school journalism programs, his teaching and his involvement in faculty governance at University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Bender is lead author of "Writing & Reporting for the Media," one of the best-selling college textbooks on news reporting and writing. The 12th edition of the book was published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 2018. He is also author of “Law for Media Professionals,” an electronic textbook for undergraduate media law students, which was published in 2018 by Great River Learning.

He also has written papers on libel law, the U.S. Supreme Court's Gannett v. DePasquale decisions in 1979 and state laws on access to public records. He is working on a book about the U.S. Supreme Court's major decisions on media access to criminal proceedings.

His teaching and research areas include news reporting and writing, mass media law, media history and controls of information. Also, for nearly 16 years he was executive director of the Nebraska High School Press Association. He is secretary of the Nebraska state convention of the Association of American University Professors.

Before he started teaching, Bender worked for six years for the Pittsburg (KS) Morning Sun. He started as a reporter covering local government and politics, then became the paper's assignment editor, news editor and then managing editor.

As an undergraduate, Bender majored in sociology at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. He holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

LEE OSTDIEK, Blue Hill, NE – Lee Ostdiek grew up in a newspaper office while his parents Hubert and Louise Ostdiek were publishers of the Lawrence Locomotive. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1953, and from Teachers College at the University of Nebraska in 1957.  With the printing knowledge he learned from his father, Lee worked his way through college working at newspapers in McCook, Superior, Lincoln and Falls City.

In 1960, Lee and his wife, Joyce purchased the Blue Hill Leader, where he served as editor for over 50 years.  He mastered a wide range of printing presses and printed the Blue Hill Leader, Lawrence Locomotive and Nelson Gazette, as well as commercial printing.  As a skilled craftsman of the printing trade, Lee greeted the new age of print technology in the 1960s and 1970s with enthusiasm. His vision and leadership made it possible for newspapers to be printed in central printing plants.

From his first days in Blue Hill, community was always important to Lee, and he served on various local committees and governing boards in South Central Nebraska, including the Little Blue Natural Resource District.  Lee served as president of the Nebraska Press Advertising Service in 1980, and president of the Nebraska Press Association in 2006.

RUSS and LORI PANKONIN, Imperial, NE -  Russ Pankonin grew up on a farm in rural Grant, NE, graduated from Perkins Co. High School, and earned a business degree from Kearney State College in 1980.  Lori Pankonin grew up in Imperial, NE, graduated from Chase Co. High School and earned a business degree from Kearney State College in 1981. The couple joined Lori’s Johnson family newspaper business as co-publishers of the Wauneta Breeze in 1982.

Russ and Lori worked as a team their entire 39-year journalism careers, with Russ focused on news/editorial and sales while Lori worked on news/editorial and handled the business office.  They established themselves early on as active leaders and members of their community. Both wrote personal columns throughout their careers (‘Shootin’ the Breeze’ and ‘Another Perspective’), creating a sense of connection with their readers. Russ also wrote lead editorials for the newspapers, first in Wauneta, and later in Imperial and Grant, winning several Nebr. Press Assn. awards for his editorial writing.

After 15 years in Wauneta, Russ and Lori moved to Imperial with their daughters to take leadership roles with Johnson Publications, Inc., which they purchased with Lori’s sister, Brenda Brandt, from Lori’s parents, Loral and Elna Johnson in 1999. This broadened their roles as co-owners to include oversight of four newspapers, including The Imperial Republican, Wauneta Breeze, Grant Tribune-Sentinel and The Holyoke (CO) Enterprise. All four newspapers were printed in Imperial, where press operations also included a diverse commercial printing business. Russ and Lori served as co-publishers in Imperial, Grant and Wauneta, while Brenda Brandt was publisher in Holyoke, until they sold Johnson Publications in November of 2021.

Russ and Lori were integrally involved in their community in many ways, which gave them insight to the needs and priorities of the towns they served, using the newspaper forum to promote public involvement. They were also devoted to their industry, both serving on the Nebraska Press Association board of directors and various committees. Russ served as president of the Nebr. Press Advertising Service in 1998, and president of Nebr. Press Assn. in 2007.

TOM SOUTHARD, Kimball, NE – Tom Southard was born in Dix, NE, attended school in Dix and Kimball, graduating from Kimball in 1953.  From a young age he was very involved in sports, earning numerous honors in track, basketball and football. He received a full ride football scholarship to Chadron State College. After serving in the U.S. Navy in 1956-57, he returned to Kimball and married his wife, Karen in 1958.

His sports writing began after he served in the Navy and returned home. A sports fan and an athlete, he saw a need for better coverage of Kimball High teams in The Observer. He made his case to management to be the one providing it.  He was never a full-time Observer employee, but the number of his bylines in the paper, week in and week out over the decades, suggested otherwise.  He covered sports and wrote his weekly column, ‘Jock Talk,’ for 56 years, never retiring.  “I tried to retire two or three times,” Tom had said, “but that didn’t seem to work.” 

Tom was still at it in the year 2020 – as always, typing his stories on a typewriter and hand delivering them to The Observer’s downtown office for publication.  Tom died December 6, 2020, at the age of 84.

For banquet information, contact Susan Watson, Nebraska Press Association, nebpress@nebpress.com, 402-476-2851, and watch for details on the NPA website, www.nebpress.com.

associate professor emeritus Tim Anderson and associate dean, journalism professor John Bender
associate professor emeritus Tim Anderson and associate dean, journalism professor John Bender