Master Editor-Publisher

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 February 2 at the 2023 INA Awards Banquet.

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

Master Editor-Publisher honorees are chosen based on the following criteria:
The nominee has worked hard, thought soundly, influenced unselfishly, and lived honorably.

This award may be given to any person who at the time of the selection is actively engaged in editing and/or publishing a newspaper which is a member in good standing of the Iowa Newspaper Association.

2023 RECIPIENTS

terry christensen3

TERRY CHRISTENSEN

Fort Dodge Messenger

Terry Christensen is not one to be fearful of shaking up the norm to bring fresh perspective, a more relevant and locally based news product. Once an outsider to the industry if you will, he brought a wave of new ideas, tactics, and philosophies for his newspapers.  

When he is named publisher of newspapers, it becomes clear the impact he has on communities and people. Most recently after taking on a new leadership role he moved quickly to first update the building’s interior to a more contemporary look. Gone were the historical pages of yesteryear and in their place were motivational messages, work boards, a large flag, and even a mirror so that every employee walking in could take measure of their appearance and attitude as they came to work. Publications were renamed, re-branded and updated to appeal to a new generation of reader. Local news became a larger emphasis, sports was redone with local emphasis and personal updates on local athletes became the norm rather than exception. 

Christensen has substantially grown a commercial printing business and turned newspapers into award winning publications.  

His management style is one of empowerment and positive reinforcement. He involves all employees in regular meetings to drive goals and create a cohesive operation. He is known as a “people” person who forms positive relationships with anyone he meets. He is well liked, respected and looked up to in his community. Most importantly, he is driven to improve the communities he lives and works in.

Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, is shown Friday, March 27, 2015. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

BRUCE MILLER

Sioux City Journal

Bruce Miller has worked the last four decades to promote the profession of journalism, make his local newspaper a leading source of news and give back to the community whenever possible. 

In the newsroom, he leads by example with his positive, can-do attitude, challenging colleagues to achieve lofty goals and practice high professional standards. He is continually giving of his time and ready to offer praise and constructive criticism to staff. He enjoys mentoring young journalists both in his role at the newspaper as well as an adjunct professor. 

Throughout his career, Miller has quickly adapted to the many changes and challenges in the industry and has developed keen insight for the type of stories readers count on the newspaper to tell. Under his leadership the paper has won numerous state, regional and national awards. 

He harnesses his outgoing personality and cheerful manner to give back to the community, volunteering as an MC for a long list of charitable events. While these high-profile public appearances have made him a local celebrity, most people never see the commitment and compassion he has for his own staff. He often refers to his team as a family and goes above and beyond for those who may need an extra hand from time to time. 

He has been a fixture in his community for 40 years. He is dedicated to fairness, truth and kindness, qualities that have not gone unnoticed in his community and among his colleagues. 

Karen2

KAREN SPURGEON

Bloomfield Democrat

Karen Spurgeon is much more than a caretaker of her community newspaper. She has excelled in the role of publisher through her day-and-night devotion to a paper that has been a part of the family for more than 50 years.  

As we know, dedication to newspapers entails many responsibilities. Covering city council and education meetings, writing editorials that challenge local residents and leaders to step up in the community, and writing countless stories to shine a spotlight on current issues just scratches the surface. 

We also know life has a way of throwing many of us for a curve. This holds true for our recipient when she was quickly faced with launching this second career, as a busy publisher, at a time when she would have been facing retirement and all the anticipated rest she had earned. 

Through her leadership she has taken the newspaper into the lives of its readers expanding its coverage to highlight a variety of groups in her community. She introduced readers to members of the Amish religious order, highlighted first responders efforts and sacrifices during the worst health crisis in a century, supported business during the health crisis and still found time to remain active in several community organizations as well.  She has done a great service to her community by championing what it means to provide local news. 

Serving as publisher since 2013 has not been a job for this individual. It has been a labor of love – love for what her late husband built during his nearly 50 years at the helm, love for the community where they both grew up, and love for the vital role a strong newspaper plays in a community.  

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JEFF WAGNER

Sheldon N'West Iowa REVIEW

Jeff Wagner was born into the publishing business. As an infant he was regularly carted to work at the family paper and as a young boy listened to his parents talking printing, publishing, and newspaper issues nightly at the dinner table. 

By the time Wagner was in high school he held a fully franchised Nikon dealership located in the newspaper office and, was the only photographer for the paper. His parents would often have to call the high school principal to get excused from class when there was a breaking daytime story. 

When finished with school, our recipient jumped head-first into the family publishing business, as both staff photographer and designer and chief layout artist. It was during that period the newspaper won 17 Iowa Newspaper of the Year honors and became one of the three largest circulation weekly papers in Iowa. 

In the mid-80’s he was instrumental in the establishment of the family’s newspaper printing plant that has steadily steered through challenges and loses, yet more than tripling business from when it first starts. 

Wagner knows and loves the important role newspapers play in the lives of the communities they serve. The company has expanded and grown tremendously under his leadership. He has been a committed member of the Iowa Newspaper Association, serving on the Foundation and Association boards as well as many committees. He also represents the National Newspaper Association as a presenter at state association conventions across the country. 

MEP RECIPIENTS

2022

Brad Swenson, Missouri Valley
Kristin Grabinoski, Armstrong
Zack Kucharski, Cedar Rapids
William E. Littler III & Connie Littler, Adair

2019

Marlys Barker, Nevada
Mark Spensley, Monticello
Mike Hodges, Wapello

2018

Paula Buenger, Spencer
Douglas Burns, Carroll
Dodie Hook, Akron

2017

LeAnn Larson, West Union
Ron Slechta, Kalona
Stuart Clark, Tipton   

2016

Steve Delaney, Burlington
Charles “Scott” Campbell, Eldridge

2015

Charles Nixon, Coon Rapids
James Gargano, Humboldt

2014

Bill Haglund, Adel
Mark Rhoades, Missouri Valley

2013

Luann Waldo, Bayard
Jerry Wiseman, Sac City
Dave Stanley, New Hampton

2012

John Goossen, Iowa Falls
Gene Hall, Charles City
Doug Lindner, Solon
Mary Ungs-Sogaard, Dyersville

2011

Mike Finnegan, Clear Lake
Jane Podgorniak, Northwood
Mike Schlesinger, Marshalltown

2010

Amy Duncan, Indianola
Ron Peterson, Sioux City
Peter W. Wagner, Sheldon

2009

Lowell Carlson, Bellevue
Ken Chaney, Sigourney
Brian Cooper, Dubuque
Dennis Wilcox, Madrid

2008

Martin Bunge, Marengo
Gary Milks, Fort Madison
Howard Query, Mason City

2007

Rick Fromm, Decorah
Larry Bushman, Fort Dodge

2006

Art & John Cullen, Storm Lake
Connie Wimer, Des Moines
Dan DeBettignies, Montezuma

2005

Brad Hicks, Hampton
Bill Casey, Iowa City
David Allen, Lamoni

2004

Larry Woellert, Anamosa/Manchester
Mark Bowden, Cedar Rapids
Gary Lindsey, Leon

2003

David Paxton, Albia
Mike Simmons, Marengo
Dana Larsen, Storm Lake

2002

Dirk and Lee van der Linden, Belmond
Mary Rueter, DeWitt
Tom Yunt, Dubuque

2001

Bill Mertens, Burlington
Scott Gonzales, Guthrie Center
Roger Rector, Ida Grove

2000

Alan Mores, Harlan
Doris Vezina, Hartley
Bob Goodyear, Monticello

1999

Dorothy Pinder, Grinnell
H. Alan Smith, Mt. Ayr
Joe McDermott, Newton
Merle Kent Shawd, Woodward

1998

Michael Gartner, Ames
Jo Martin, Iowa Falls
Edward “Mike” Lyon, Mapleton

1997

Arvid Huisman, Creston
Dan Feuling, New Hampton
Darwin Sherman, Washington

1996

Donna Haight, Afton
Dan Field, Corning
Joe Roth, Hampton

1995

Ed Littler, Adair
Gary Gerlach, Ames
Bill Tubbs, Eldridge
Ed Rood, Slater

1994

Jim Wilson, Carroll
Ann Wilson, Carroll
Mark Hamilton, Iowa Falls
Dean Krenz, Sioux City

1993

Virgil Oakman, Lake View
Don Magdefrau, Benton Co.
Carolyn Cole Gage, Villisca

1992

Drake Mabry, Ames
Jim Lindvall, Griswold
Jerry Blue, West Union

1991

John Robertson, Cedar Rapids
Lloyd & Alice Madson, Northwood
Ed & Billie Robinson, Hartley
Jim Hodges, Wapello

1990

Burl Tiedemann, Adel
Mary Louise Robinson, Bayard
James Patton, Gowrie
Paul Bunge, Osage

1989

Gary Spurgeon, Bloomfield
Steve Mores, Harlan
Harris Honsey, Lake Mills

1988

Joe Hladky III, Cedar Rapids
Dave Norris, Marshalltown
Gary & Sharon Alban, Ogden
Ben & Lucy Colby, Rock Rapids

1987

Rick Morain, Jefferson
Jerry Bloom, Logan
Len Strasburg, Manchester

1986

John (Andy) Anderson, Spencer
Shirley Omer, Primghar
Forrest Kilmer, Davenport
Herbert Clark, Tipton

1985

Al Schafer, Eldora
Richard Gross, Council Bluffs
Carl Cassidy, Lime Springs

1984

Verle Burgason, Ames
John Field, Hamburg
Maury Noonan, Dyersville
John Sullivan, Cascade

1983

Charles Gonzales, Guthrie Center
Stuart Awbrey, Burlington
W. R. Vezina, Hartley
M. E. Messersmith, Riceville

1982

C. W. Wilcox, Madrid
W. E. Beck, Spirit Lake
Walter Stevens, Fort Dodge

1981

Ed Sidey, Greenfield
Robert Lyon, Schleswig
Frank Morlan, Sheldon

1980

Hugh Doty, Corydon
Gerald G. Moriarity, Mason City
Robert Parrott, DeWitt
Bruce A. Turvold, Cresco

1979

Dave Elder, Washington
Dick Knowles, Denison
Russ Waller, Algona

1978

Thomas H. Miller, Cherokee
Robert L. Caswell, Red Oak
John L. Morrissey, Montezuma

1977

Robert & Evelyn Reiste, Ocheyedan
John Anderson, Storm Lake
Frank Nye, Cedar Rapids

1976

Everett A. Streit, Clinton
Kenneth A. Robinson, Bayard
William Ferguson, Glidden

1975

Albert Pinder, Grinnell
John van der Linden, Sibley
Carter Pitts, LeMars

1974

Robert J. McCoy, Waterloo
William L. Lindsey, Leon
Prof. James Schwartz, I.S.U.
H. M. “Johnny” Jones, Monticello

1973

Benjamin F. Carter, Jr., Forest City
G. Wiley Beveridge, Williamsburg
Charles Davis, Iowa Falls

1972

Fred Grawe, Waverly
Robert Larson, Albia
E. J. Van Nostrand, Creston

1971

W. J. Carmichael, Webster City
John Baldridge, Charition
Wayne & Jeanne Davis, Seymour

1970

Joe F. Hladky, Jr., Cedar Rapids
Keith Hawk, Knoxville
Robert Melvold, Maquoketa

1969

Dwight Purcell, Hampton
F. A. Wortman, Malvern
A. M. Patterson, Mount Pleasant

1968

Reeves Hall, Independence
Deemer Lee, Estherville
John Feuling, New Hampton

1967

Hollis Nordyke, Ames
Neil Maurer, Laurens
Lew Kimer, Indianola

1966

Mrs. Harold Garvey, Boone
Dale Merrill, Ida Grove
Dick Westerfield, West Union

1965

Ken MacDonald, Des Moines
Phil Jarnagin, Storm Lake
Tom B. Powell, Jr., Anamosa

1964

Phil Adler, Davenport
Fred Morain, Jefferson
Leo Mores, Harlan

1963

M. B. Crabbe, Eagle Grove
Robert K. Beck, Centerville
Elmer E. Taylor, Traer

1962

Lew Warren, Oelwein
Karl Le Compte, Corydon
Carl Hogendorn, North English

1961

A.K. Walling, Oskaloosa
Carl Hamilton, Iowa Falls
Gordon Aasgaard, Lake Mills

1960

F.D. Simpson, Atlantic
Robert Burrows, Sr., Belle Plaine
Lloyd McCutcheon, Sibley

1959

Walter Merryman, Fort Dodge
John Burrows, Belle Plaine
J.C. Moore, Winterset

1958

Walter Williams, Fairfield
Charles Hacke, Sac City
George Carman, Buffalo Center

1957

C.W. Moody, Burlington
A.W. Hamblin, Bedford
Carl E. Sexauer, Ogden

1956

Harold V. Ellis, Marengo
Paul Norris, Marshalltown
Harry E. Taylor, Traer

1955

L. B. Watt, Grinnell
Lloyd O. Brewer, Newton
K. H. Sidey, Greenfield

1954

W. D. Archie, Shenandoah
Carl Caswell, Clarinda
Wm. Allender, Chariton

 

1953

Lee P. Loomis, Mason City
A. L. Frisbie, Grinnell
John Vanderwicken, Grundy Center
Don Reid, West Des Moines

1952

G.E. Whitehead, Perry
Will F. Lindsey, Leon
B.H. Shearer, Columbus Junction

1951

James Wilson, Carroll
Duane E. Dewel, Algona
David Sutherland, Sr., Montezuma

1950

John Huston, Ottumwa
Willis Overholser, Sibley
S.E. Tennant, Colfax

1949

Claude Campbell, Jewell
Ralph Shannon, Washington
Paul C. Smith, Rock Rapids

1948

James C. Gillespie, LeMars
Phil Hoffman, Oskaloosa
C.S. Walling, Oskaloosa

1947

Chas. A. Doxsee, Monticello
Hoge Howard Sadler, Pella
Justin Barry, Cherokee

1946

Paul A. Olson, Story City
John W. Haggard, Algona
W. Earl Hall, Mason City

1945

Fred W. Hill, Hamburg
Jas. McCutcheon, Mt. Vernon
Wm. S. Rupe, Ames

1944

F.W. Beckman, Knoxville
Stephen Goldthwaite, Boone
Ralph Overholser, Red Oak

1943

Don L. Berry, Indianola
Sherman W. Needham, Ames
Geo. C. Tucker, Webster City

1942

J.L. Papes, Marion
Leon S. Barnes, Northwood

1941

Chas. N. Marvin, Shenandoah
Frank Jaqua, Humboldt
E.P. Harrison, Oakland

1940

W.C. Dewel, Algona
Chas. Rogers, Mt. Pleasant
Paul C. Woods, Sheldon

1939

Jesse M. Beck, Centerville
John M. Grimes, Osceola
Scott Snyder, Adel

1938

Ward Barnes, Eagle Grove
Orville Elder, Washington
J.G. Lucas, Madrid

1937

Thomas W. Purcell, Hampton
E.P. Chase, Atlantic
Victor Lovejoy, Jefferson

1936

James R. Rhodes, Newton
K.F. Baldridge, Bloomfield

1935

John c. Hartman, Waterloo
M.A. Aasgaard, Lake Mills

1934

W. C. Jarnagin, Storm Lake
Wm. P. Moscrip, Marshalltown
Grant Caswell, Des Moines
Wm. P. Wortman, Malvern

1933

Ed M. Smith, Winterset
E.P. Adler, Davenport
W.G. Ray, Grinnell

1932

Joseph F. Grawe, Waverly
Harvey Ingham, Des Moines
Elmer E. Taylor, Traer