During the 150th annual MNA Convention, several special awards were presented.
John Bodette Honored with DSTJ
Recently retired St. Cloud Times Executive Editor John Bodette was presented with the Distinguished Service to journalism Award. The award, MNA’s highest honor, is presented to any Minnesotan who has made significant contributions throughout his or her career — to a larger, broader group than those served in everyday professional life — for the advancement of the profession of journalism or the newspaper industry or for the promotion of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, open meetings or freedom of information.
John Bodette started his journalism career in 1974 as the wire editor at the St. Cloud Times. He rose through the ranks for 42 years to retire Dec. 23, 2016, as executive editor, having held the top title for 11 years.
But the dates and title say less about his contributions than the people he mentored and the recognitions he received. He is a member of the prototype team that invented USA Today, led the Times team as it won dozens of state and national awards for its community journalism, and helped guide the Times through its transitions to a morning newspaper, to one with a Sunday edition and then to a strong digital news leader. He is a dedicated longtime mentor to students in the American Indian Journalism Institute and an avid supporter of the Chips Quinn Scholars Program. That commitment to creating a newsroom that reflects its community earned him the Robert G. Magruder Award for Diversity Leadership in 2008. He has served Minnesota journalists on the MNA Journalism Education committee and will continue serving a lead role on MNA’s Legislative committee, as past president of the Minnesota Associated Press board and as a member of the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Journalism Center board. He has also been active in the Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of News Design, Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He received MNA’s Friend of Minnesota Newspapers award in 2007.
“John Bodette is the rare combination of a journalist, coach, motivator and leader. His execution of journalism is done with passion and genuine concern for his community and the all those affected by the words he chooses and approves to be published in print or digitally. A master craftsman of journalism that does not hide the honor and pride he feels to be part of such a post as Executive Editor. Most importantly John has coached, mentored, inspired, motivated and had the occasional heart-to-heart conversations with hundreds of journalists in old and new media and give them a beacon of light to follow during tough days and tough decisions.”
-Bill Albrecht, President & Publisher, 2001 -2010
St. Cloud Times
“John Bodette has been integral to the St. Cloud Times and its excellence throughout his career. He has continuously served his readers and community. He has been a teacher and mentor for his journalist colleagues in the Minnesota media world. Thank you for being a leader and pioneer.”
-Kelly Boldan, Editor
West Central Tribune, Willmar
“John is a perfect candidate for the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. I gained writing, copy editing and page design knowledge from John when I worked at the Times while attending college, and I still refer back to that experience many years later. Besides John’s vast knowledge, I’ve always appreciated his passion for all editorial topics. He has focused on the advancement of young journalists by serving on MNA’s Journalism Education committee and through other work in the journalism community. He has definitely been an influential and valuable asset to our industry.”
-Pete Mohs, Publisher & MNA Past President
Why John Bodette made journalism matter
- INSPIRATION: JB instilled ink-in-the-veins best practices of storytelling and local coverage on interns & seasoned journalists for four decades.
- PASSION: The man once left his office and banged on the door of a closed school board meeting until it was opened.
- FINESSE: John navigated the murky waters of corporate journalism — always with the best interests of his readers and newsroom people in mind.
As the local journalism prof, I was honored to work with John. He dedicated his professional life to challenging the comfortable and to giving voice to the voiceless. He was absolutely without fear in taking on folks willing to ignore free expression.
St. Cloud State Journalism Professor, retired
Four individuals were inducted into the Half Century Club:
Bernadine Hildebrant has held numerous positions throughout her 50 years in the newspaper business. She has worked as a general office manager, typist, proofreader, photographer, feature writer, and columnist.
Publisher Allan Wilcox hired Bernadine in 1966 as a general office worker for the The Waterville Advance newspaper, and she’s continued to work at the Waterville paper, where she still is a monthly columnist, through many owners and publishers. In 1970, The Waterville Advance became the Lake Region LIFE. In 1984, Jack Webster purchased Lake Region LIFE and became its publisher. In 1994, Suel Printing Company purchased Lake Region LIFE and Charles Wann became its publisher.
In 2003, Bernadine retired as a full-time reporter and in 2016, Bernadine retired from proofreading. Today, Bernadine continues to write her monthly column.
Four of Bernadine’s six children followed her into the journalism field: Kathi (Hildebrant) Schoaf is a former Lake Region LIFE columnist; Mike Hildebrant is a former sports writer for The Waterville Advance; John Hildebrant is a former sports writer for The Waterville Advance; Eileen (Hildebrant) Madsen is a former writer for Sleepy Eye Herald Dispath and the New Ulm Journal and Managing Editor of River Valley Woman. Bernadine’s daughters Lisa Hildebrant and Mary (Hildebrant) Laski do not work in newspapers.
John “Jack” Lynch is a longtime Northern Minnesota editor and reporter. He currently is the resident historian and curmudgeon for the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Jack writes a bi-weekly column, writes/edits weekly history page and does some proof reading.
Jack says his first news story was for the Cobb-Cook Chatter while in grade School. He was co-editor of the Hibbing Junior College Cardinal in 1953-55 and also worked at the Minnesota Daily while at the U of M.
Jack worked at the Duluth Herald and News-Tribune for about a year (following graduation in 1957) before spending the next two years in the Army, basic at Fort Carson, Colo., and supply schools at Ft. Chaffee, Ark., and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. He was stationed at Fort Richardson at Anchorage, Alaska, until being released from active duty in 1960.
After his honorable discharged in the 1960s, Jack returned to work at the Duluth News-Tribune for about a year before coming to The Hibbing Daily Tribune in the spring of 1961. He worked as Range editor and news editor for the next 38 years and one month. He worked part time for a while until his mother got sick, and later at the Chisholm Tribune Press (a sister paper) for a while. He returned to the Hibbing Tribune about 2005 doing copy editing and history stories up to the present time.
Jack’s nominators say he is a newsroom staple, always teaching us “young ones” and telling us how it “used to be.” He’s also full of random knowledge, and looks forward to making us laugh each day. His experience is invaluable, and his accomplishments and dedication to newspapers is unmatched. Our hats off to Jack!
Lou Michaels is a freelance photographer and owner of “Lou the Photo Guy.” He was born in Detroit in 1943 to parents Joesph & Lillian Feldman. Lou attended Henry Ford High School Detroit 1958 – 1962 and McComb Community College 1986 – 1988.
Since November 1966, Lou has specialized in photographing life cycle events and general news and sports events on both national and local levels. He began his newspaper career in 1966 at the Detroit Journal and Detroit Jewish News.
Lou married Tamara S. Michaels on November 27, 2006 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has one daughter, Holly Renne Feldman.
Lou is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and MNA. He is active in many local volunteer and civic groups including the local Rotary, Kiwanis, Moose, Elks, and Lions clubs. He is a past Grand Master of the Independent order of Odd Fellows, 1996 – 1997. Lou has been involved with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival: 2010 Senior Prime Minister, 2013 Prime Minister and 2015 King Winter the 57th of the Senior Royalty. He is the 4th District historian of The America and Jewish War Veterans and VFW.
Eugene Prim is the owner and publisher of the Barnesville Record-Review, and has seen the newspaper industry shift from linotype to digital over his career.
Gene began his newspaper career on a part-time basis at the Record-Review as a high school student at Barnesville High School beginning in 1960 under publisher Ken Anderson.
Gene continued to work for the Record-Review while attending Wahpeton State School of Science and even while working at his first full-time newspaper job at the old Gazette-Telegram newspaper in Breckenridge, MN. Prim returned to the Record-Review in a full-time capacity as a linotype operator ad printer in 1964.
He and his wife Karen took over the publishing reins in October 1972 from Thomas Ellingsworth, who had been editor-publisher since November 1969. Prior to that, Barry Prichard was the newspaper’s publisher. In 1983 the Prims purchased the interests of the other partners and have been the sole owners of the newspaper since.
The Prims started the Rothsay Regional Report newspaper in 1979, purchased the Hawley Herald in 1989 and the Lake Park Journal in 1990. They formed Clay County Connection, a special sections printing operation, in 1995. In 2009, the Prims purchased the Clay County Union, making them owners of all three weekly Clay County newspapers.
Gene married Karen Ernst in June 1964, and she worked at the newspaper creating ads and helping with layout. Their children, Loretta Szweduik and Richard Prim, both participated in the business, somewhat unwillingly at times, during their teen years. All four grandchildren, Jessie, Katie, Zachary and Haley, have worked in the business as summer interns or part-time photographers.
Eugene was unable to attend the awards luncheon.