Distinguished Service Award

The Iowa Newspaper Association annually honors deserving individuals with two prestigious awards: the Master Editor-Publisher Award and the Distinguished Service Award. Both awards are presented to recipients during the association's annual convention in February.

Recipients were announced Friday, February 3 at the 2017 INA Convention and Trade Show. 

Each year's honorees are selected by past recipients of the awards.

Distinguished Service Award recipients are long-time journalists honored for their contributions to the newspaper profession and to their communities. DSA recipients can be any member of the newspaper staff, including but not limited to advertising directors, circulation managers, back shop superintendents and press operators, as well as news and sports editors, publishers and business managers.

Criteria include:
1. The nominee must be an employee or former employee of an Iowa newspaper or associated with a university, college or newspaper association having close ties with Iowa newspapers;
2. The nominee shall have contributed greatly to his or her newspaper, and to his or her community and/or the newspaper industry in general;
3. Longevity should have little effect on the nominee's qualifications.
4. Individuals who have received the INA's Master Editor-Publisher award are not eligible to win the Distinguished Service Award. (Rule enacted in 2012)


Michael Bugeja - Iowa State University

Michael Bugeja has played a key role in preparing the next generation for a future in journalism. 

Journalism schools across the nation have experienced unique challenges the last few years with the changing media landscape. But under our recipient’s leadership, this journalism school is experiencing record enrollment. An outstanding 99 percent of graduates are placed within six months of graduation and because of our recipient’s efforts to streamline curriculum, student debts are being reduced. 

This individual also initiated a public website showing information such as student retention rates, graduation rates, entry-level journalism salaries, placement rates and more. It is evident why prospective students and parents are drawn to the program once they see the statistics. 

He has done more than foster the longest continuously accredited journalism program in the state. He has made the school a home base for students and alums- listening to an advisory council and staying ahead of the trends to meet the needs of publishers and other employers with the graduates. 

He has partnered with the INA and INF in numerous projects from the annual convention to First Amendment Week and the Chamberlin Lecture series. He has served the Greenlee School of Journalism, Iowa State University, the Iowa State Daily and the newspaper industry in Iowa well.


Deb Geisler - Jefferson Herald

Deb Geisler has been a staunch advocate for local businesses through her role with the newspaper and involvement in community projects. 

When a new project arises in her community you can be assured this individual’s name is on the list to volunteer. Not only is she committed, hard-working and connected in the community, she is the first to distribute credit to others on the team. 

During her many years with the newspaper, she has proven herself as a valuable team player who could work with groups and individuals alike to achieve a common goal, often that of promoting the community and surrounding area. As a catalyst for projects and ideas, her good-natured humor and positive outlook make the work enjoyable while her leadership makes it successful. 

This individual helps each business do the right amount of advertising at the right time for the business and the newspaper. She helps advertisers in any way possible – writing ads, planning promotions, setting up for events, planning and participating in city and county functions. 

She can often be found grilling for the Kiwanis, working concessions, or helping with children’s events – all done with the utmost professionalism. 


Doug Melvold - Maquoketa Sentinel-Press

As a second-generation reporter and newsman, Doug Melvold has been a pillar in the community and newspaper for more than three decades. 

Our recipient’s strength as a hard news writer is at the center of his service to the community. Readers have been well served through the years as this writer explained complex issues with careful, precise phrasing that took the drama and controversy out of often difficult issues. His writing is respected in the community for the fair and honest way it captures local events in news. 

While covering a County Board of Supervisor’s meeting this individual experienced first-hand the unpredictability of reporting. His harrowing attempt to stop a local resident who was open-firing a on the board, could have skewed anyone’s account of the event. Our recipient, however, maintained the same humbling manner and commitment to provide in-depth, fact-based, coverage to the community. 

Through the years he has chronicled events of the community, establishing a historical record of the good and bad times. He has been an active member of Rotary and Optimist clubs and has served as president of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation. 


Scott Sundstrom - (former) Iowa Newspaper Associaton lobbyist

Scott Sundstrom has been a champion for the newspaper industry, freedom of the press, public access to government information and other issues vital to newspapers. 

Our recipient has consistently fought for these causes in the Iowa Legislature, and other forums, going beyond the expectation of an advocate to convey our stances with passion and intelligence. 

He is knowledgeable of the legislative process and how to get things done. Until you’ve witnessed first-hand the working of the Iowa legislature and how best to navigate the politics, while educating lawmakers on the issues, it’s difficult to imagine the skills required to do so. 

A successful lobbyist must be extremely well versed on his or her client’s issues, must understand the mechanics of the legislative process and must, above all, have earned the respect of lawmakers. He is knowledgeable of the industry’s issues, is astute about the legislative process and is very well respected among his peers and our state representatives and senators. 

He has worked tirelessly with the Iowa Newspaper Association, its Government Relations Committee and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council to preserve public notices in newspapers and retain access to government records and meetings; all in an atmosphere increasingly bent on reducing public access to the workings of our government. 

In today’s environment it can be a lonely task to be a champion of transparency. Our recipient never shied away from the challenge.


DSA recipients

Michael Bugeja, Iowa State University
Deb Geisler, Jefferson 
Doug Melvold, Maquoketa 
Scott Sundstrom, Des Moines 

Bruce Binning, Denison
Vicky Decker, Seymour
Chris Mudge, Des Moines

Michael Giudicessi, Des Moines
Larry Peterson, Creston
Rox Laird, Des Moines

Bill Rediger, Dyersville Commercial
Connie Wagner, Sheldon N'West Iowa Review
Irene Wilcox, Madrid Register-News

Stuart Clark, Tipton Conservative
Max Heath, NNA Postal Chair
Keith Luchtel, INA Lobbyist
Barbara Mack, Iowa State University (posthumous)

Chuck Offenburger, Des Moines Register
Kathleen Richardson, Drake University
Norma Thurman, Stuart Herald

Bill Monroe, Iowa Newspaper Association

Jeff Grant, Sheldon
Alan Mores, Harlan
Jim Normandin, Dubuque

Jay Luther, Iowa Falls Times-Citizen
Jo Martin, Iowa Falls Times-Citizen
Mary Reuter, DeWitt Observer

Sharon Alban, Ogden Reporter
Bill Tubbs, Eldridge North Scott Press
Terry Wilson, Davenport Quad-City Times
Bill Wundram, Davenport Quad-City Times

Bob Andersen, Elkader Clayton Co. Register
Wayne Davis, Seymour Herald

Le Ann Larson, West Union Fayette Co. Union
Ron Schuety, Altoona Herald-Mitchellville Index
Randy Evans, Des Moines Register

Mark Wicks, Charles City Press
Connie White, Creston News-Advertiser
Drake Mabry, Des Moines Register & Ames Tribune
Gary Alban, Ogden Reporter

Amy Duncan, Indianola Record-Herald and Tribune
Don Magdefrau, Belle Plaine Union
Karen Young, Seymour Herald
Tom Yunt, Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Edward "Mike" Lyon, Mapleton Press
Michael Gartner, Des Moines
Walt Stevens, Ft. Dodge Messenger
Bill Casey, Iowa City Daily Iowan

Paul Gauthier, Corning Adams Co. Free-Press
Gil Cranberg, Des Moines Register
George Mills, Des Moines Register
Jay Wagner, Des Moines Business Record

Jim Magdefrau, Blairstown So. Benton Star-Press
Jack Crook, Knoxville Journal-Express
Barbara Lyon, Mapleton Press

Dave Storey, Cedar Rapids Gazette
LeAnn Pisarik, Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun
Dr. Kenneth Starck, University of Iowa School of Journalism

Gary Spurgeon, Bloomfield Democrat
James Flansburg, Des Moines Register
Tom Emmerson, Iowa State University
Jack Marlowe, Maquoketa Sentinel Press

Marni Mellen, Fairfield Daily Ledger
Tom Johnson, Waukon Standard
Merle Kent Shawd, Woodward-NE Dallas Co. Record
Jay Mohr, Sibley-Osceola Co. Gazette Tribune (posthumous)

Mark Bowden, Cedar Rapids Gazette
Harold Aardema, Doon Press
Margaret VanderWeerdt, Sully Diamond Trail News
Gene Bloom, Woodbine Twiner (posthumous)

Mary Lou Hinrichsen, DeWitt Observer
Shirley Omer, Primghar O’Brien Co. Bell
Dave Paxton, Albia Newspaper

Bill Mertens, Burlington Hawk Eye
Richard Goughnour, Mediapolis News
David Johnson, West Branch Times
Joe Roth, Hampton Newspapers

Beth Dalbey, Adel Dallas County News
Brian Cooper, Dubuque Telegraph Herald
Ken Robinson, Bayard News-Gazette
Jerry Moriarity, Mason City Globe-Gazette

Al Pinder, Grinnell Herald-Register
Larry Johnson, Ft. Dodge Messenger
Carolyn Cole Gage, Villisca Review

Robert Woodward, Drake University
Phyllis Fleming, Cedar Rapids Gazette
William Zima, University of Iowa

Dale Kueter, Cedar Rapids Gazette
Oline Stigers, Cedar Rapids Gazette
Ron Slechta, Tama News-Herald
Harrison "Skip” Weber, INA

Genevieve Mauck Stoufer, Council Bluffs
Rick Morain, Jefferson Herald
Helen Zogg, Eldridge North Scott Press
Rosalie Johnson, Eldridge North Scott Press

Herb Strentz, Drake University
Lois Jacobs, Marshalltown Times-Republican
Cal Olson, Sioux City Journal
David Kruidenier, Des Moines Register

Hollis Nordyke, Ames Daily Tribune
Jackson Baty, University of Northern Iowa
L. Jay Smith, Fort Dodge Messenger

Harold Bailey, Perry Chief
Bill Kunerth, Iowa State University
Frederick Simpson, Atlantic News-Telegraph

John McCormally, Burlington Hawk Eye
Max Maxon, Webster City Freeman Journal
Harold Roberts, Creston News Advertiser

Esther Williams, Vinton Cedar Valley Daily Times
J. Burl Tiedemann, Adel Dallas County News
Harry Mauck Jr., Council Bluffs Nonpareil

Les Moeller, Iowa City
Donald Lundgren, Clinton Herald
Al Efner, Ottumwa Courier

Frank Nye, Cedar Rapids Gazette
Matt Lawrence, Ottumwa Courier
Paul Norris, Marshalltown Times-Republican