If you look at the volume number of today’s Nevada Journal (NJ), you will realize you are reading a paper that has been in existence for 125 years. Not one editor or publisher of the NJ has received the Iowa Newspaper Association’s (INA) prestigious Master Editor-Publisher Award (M-EP) in 125 years. Until now. And, the recipient is, drum-roll please, Marlys Barker.
So, what is this accolade all about? The INA is a group of nearly 300 daily and weekly newspapers, working together to provide Iowa citizens with information and become a mirror of each communities activities. The ME-P Award, presented to Marlys at INA’s Feb. 8-9 statewide conference, is only given to 2-3-4 honorees per year and the criteria includes: 1) solid work ethic, 2) sound thinker, 3) unselfish service, 4) demonstrated influence and leadership within the community, 5) passionate of insuring freedom of the press and expression of public opinion and 6) lived honorably.
Art Cullen, editor, The Storm Lake Times, and his brother, John, won the ME-P award in 2006. Art, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, told me “the award is not for a single photo or a single story or even a series of editorials, but it honors a career of dedication to Iowa journalism.”
Marlys Barker’s name has now been vaulted onto the altar of Pulitzer Prize winners and fellow Master Editors-Publishers!
The following people provided evidence to the INA for ME-P recognition to be bestowed her way: Katie Baker, Janis Brendeland, Mike Coverdale, Mary Catlett, Jan Lundgren, Lynn Marr-Moore, Dane Nealson, Ed Rood, Whitney Sager, Ellen Woods and yours truly.
The words expressed by those who work side-by-side with Marlys, day-by-day, week-after-week, issue deadline-by-issue deadline, different owner-after-owner with different expectations, speak volumes; read intently.
Joe Randleman, sports writer, who has worked with Marlys since 1998, says “Marlys leads by example. Besides her ever encompassing editor duties, she does everything we do, writing, proofing, lay out pages, photos, ad development and social media. People love her feature stories — Marlys truly has her pulse on Nevada and our surrounding communities. Marlys is a demonstrated leader; most deserving of the award.”
Wynne Landgraf, the NJ’s news assistant, reports “the attribute that strikes me most about Marlys is just how hard she works — a tireless worker on virtually every story, seeking perfection. She prides herself on being unbiased and nonpartial. When you realize how few people put the paper together, you then realize how hard Marlys works and how dedicated she is to the subscribers, business community, advertisers, school district, city council, courthouse, not-for-profit agencies, the list goes on.”
Lauri Dodd, inside/nonprofit sales for the NJ, has worked with Marlys for 20 years and notes, “Marlys really cares about the communities she depicts in her articles, the quality of the stories reported and even to the detail of the quality of each issue’s printing. Every edition is like it’s her baby claiming each issue defines who we are. The average worker puts in 40 hours per week, but not Marlys — 55-60 hour work weeks are her norm — she defines work ethic.”
Ronna Lawless, Story City Herald staff writer, worked for Marlys for several years and concurs with Joe, Wynne and Lauri regarding Marlys using her leadership skills — letting staff know how valued they are, personally and professionally, plus the value in reporting communities’ issues to NJ’s readers. “Bottom line,” Ronna states, “Marlys is an inspirational leader.”
The Nevada Journal has been one-of-its-kind for 125 years and so is Marlys Barker, one of Iowa’s distinctive journalists. Marlys embodies the vision of the Iowa Newspaper Association — passionate about the quality of each issue, while preserving a free press. She takes pride in the weekly tabloid and hopes each publication will make a positive difference and improve the quality of life in Nevada and surrounding communities. Marlys’s persistence and determination are omnipotent.
My kudos are extended to one of the finest editors I have had the privilege of working with, Marlys Barker, Master Editor-Publisher, dedicated journalist extraordinaire.
Steve Corbin is Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa and a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.