Six Daily Nebraskan alumni and staff inducted into its Hall of Fame

Monday, October 31, 2022 - 9:45am

Six Daily Nebraskan alumni and its 1971-72 staffs were inducted into its Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Oct. 22. 

Beverly Deepe Keever, David Luebke, Matt Waite, Kent Warneke and Jeff Zeleny were Distinguished Alumni award winners. Not only did they make a difference to the Daily Nebraskan and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln but they had or have distinguished careers. Mark Billingsley was honored with the Legacy award for his vision and innovation in his photography before his untimely death while working on a special effects sequence for the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, The Running Man. The 1971-72 staff was recognized for exposing a Regent’s plagiarism and standing up to him. 

Keever covered the Vietnam war for seven years at a time when there were few women war correspondents. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the besieged city of Khe Sahn. She published several books including one indicting the New York Times for ignoring the damaging impact of nuclear power and radiation. 

Luebke informed UNL in the early 1980s with his wit and artistic skills through his daily political cartoons. Some of his cartoons are relevant today such as ones on mutually assured destruction and abortion. He now teaches history at University of Oregon focusing on the religious and political cultures in the German speaking lands. 

Waite changed the way the Daily Nebraskan approached news and he later revolutionized the news industry. At the DN, Matt covered the execution of Harold Lamont Otay, reported on the war in Bosnia, and researched racial tensions in the Malone neighborhood, which was the DN’s first foray into data journalism. He later developed PolitiFact, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 before returning to teach at UNL focusing on data journalism and his pioneering work in drone journalism. He is an active member of the DN’s Publications Board giving advice to board members and staff. 

Warneke was a prolific reporter for the Daily Nebraskan and active in campus organizations before planting his roots in Norfolk journalism and community organizations. He had 87 bylined stories in the Daily Nebraskan but still found time to be active or a leader in Innocents Society, Walpurgisnacht, Farmhouse, the Greek newspaper, Committee on Fee Allocations and University Program Council. After graduation, he was president of the Nebraska Press Association and a board member of several civic organizations. 

Zeleny was 1994-95 editor of the Daily Nebraskan when he dealt with the backlash of the paper’s reporting on numerous football players’ disciplinary issues. Coach Tom Osborne temporarily banned Daily Nebraskan reporters from football practices. Zeleny is now one of the nation's premier political journalists after marching up the journalism ladder to the Des Moines Register to the Chicago Tribune to The New York Times to ABC News and on to CNN. 

Billingsley told stories through his ever-present Leica camera. One of his most memorable and controversial image was that of a woman inexplicably lifting her screaming toddler child by his hair from a stroller. There was some talk of “why didn't that photographer intervene?” but also it opened a wider conversation about child abuse. He had great range, and could produce images from a football game, a grain elevator explosion, or a high-fashion shoot. When musician Muddy Waters tested the confines of Kimball Hall one year, Mark followed him to his basement dressing room, turning the camera to the mirror and capturing everyone in the moment. At the end of his life he had moved into film production and a job that combined his favorite things: creative tinkering and visual expression. 

While covering the dynamic and transformative life on campus in 1971-72, the Daily Nebraskan discovered that then Regent Robert Prokop plagiarized a column he submitted for the paper’s editorial page. Instead of printing it, it published excerpts alongside almost identical passages from someone else’s book sparking state-wide attention and a controversy on campus. Prokop later unsuccessfully sued the paper over this 35 years later. 

The Daily Nebraskan Hall of Fame honors DN alumni who substantially and positively affected their communities and DN staffs that made marks on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus during their tenures. The news organization inducts a class annually. Those interested in supporting the Daily Nebraskan’s commitment to independent journalism can donate at

Daily Nebraskan Hall of Fame