CoJMC professor inducted into Nebraska Journalism Hall of FameMonday, November 4, 2019 - 1:30pm
University of Nebraska College of Journalism and Mass Communications (CoJMC) Professor Joe Starita was inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame on Oct. 25 at the Nebraska Club in Lincoln.
The Hall of Fame honors those distinguished persons who have made significant contributions to journalism, their communities, the state or the nation.
"These kinds of awards, of course, never occur in a vacuum,” Starita said. “I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by many supportive friends, talented colleagues and most of all extremely dedicated and hard-working students.”
For the past 17 years, Starita has taught many of the CoJMC’s depth reporting classes - classes designed to give students the skills to probe deeply into a focused topic while also providing some international reporting opportunities. To that end, he has taken groups of students to Cuba, France and Sri Lanka.
He also co-taught a depth reporting class that exhaustively examined the pros and cons of corn-based ethanol and a legislative attempt to significantly strengthen state immigration laws. His classes have produced two depth reports focused on Native American women.
In 2017, one of Starita’s depth reporting classes was selected for the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation for Human Rights.
The winning project, Wounds of Whiteclay, examined the many issues surrounding four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, a village of seven residents. The village once sold about 3.5 million cans of beer annually to residents of South Dakota’s nearby Pine Ridge Reservation, where alcohol is illegal, and where alcoholism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, poverty, unemployment and suicide is rampant.
The coverage also played a role in the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission's discussions leading to a vote to repeal the liquor licenses in the four stores in Whiteclay. The stores stopped selling alcohol in April 2017.
Before joining the CoJMC, Starita worked as an investigative reporter for 14 years at the Miami Herald, where he won more than 20 regional and national awards. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting.
The author of three critically acclaimed books on Native Americans, one of which earned a second Pulitzer nomination, Starita has spoken at numerous book festivals and literary events throughout the country and has given more than 200 talks in Nebraska on Ponca Chief Standing Bear and Susan La Flesche, an Omaha Indian who became the nation’s first Native American doctor.
In 2015, he started a “Chief Standing Bear Journey for Justice Scholarship Fund” that each year awards five $1,500 scholarships to Nebraska Native American high school graduates.
A selection committee of Nebraska Press Association and CoJMC representatives select the inductees from those who have been nominated for the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame. Since the First Hall of Fame ceremony in April 1975, 112 honorees have been inducted.