NNA honors young community leader with the 2015 Daniel M. Phillips Leadership Award

Oct 3, 2015

ST. CHARLES, MO—Jeremy Waltner of Freeman, SD, was honored during the National Newspaper Association’s 129th Annual Convention & Trade Show when he was presented with the Daniel M. Phillips Leadership Award on Oct. 3, 2015. Waltner is news editor at the Freeman Courier in Freeman, SD.

NNA established this award in 2007 to honor Daniel Morris “Dan” Phillips, an award-winning writer, photographer and assistant publisher of the Oxford (MS) Eagle, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 47. This award is presented to an individual 23-40 years old who is well respected in his or her community, of good reputation and integrity, provides active leadership in the newspaper industry and is active in his or her state press association and community and whose newspaper is a member of NNA. 

Cheryl Kaechele, publisher of Kaechele Publications, wrote that Waltner is a “wonderful example of a young journalist in Dan Phillips’ image!”

Waltner was nominated for the award by Brian J. Hunhoff, contributing editor to the Yankton County Observer in Yankton, SD. “Jeremy Waltner has been an extraordinarily active member of the South Dakota Newspaper Association,” said Hunhoff. “Jeremy currently serves as SDNA first vice president and will be installed as SDNA president at the group’s 2016 spring convention. Jeremy has participated in numerous SDNA programs and presentations on a variety of topics. He is regarded as one of South Dakota’s best photographers and has presented many workshops throughout the state and region to help other community newspapers improve photo quality in their publications. Jeremy is also a skilled writer and layout artist,” said Hunhoff.

David Bordewyk, general manager of the SDNA, wrote, “I have known Jeremy for more than 20 years. His skills in journalism are surpassed only by his love for his family, his devotion to his community and his passion for newspapering. He represents all the best in community journalism.”

R. Jack Fishman, president of Lakeway Publishers Inc. in Morristown, TN, said of Waltner: “Excellent professional background, impressive community leadership, and his record of achievement on the international level is remarkable.”

Hunhoff explained, “Jeremy Waltner has continued a family tradition of leadership in the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. In 2007, at age 30, Jeremy served as the youngest president in ISWNE’s 60-year history. He also helped his father and Mobridge Tribune Publisher Larry Atkinson, organize the 2007 ISWNE Conference in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 2003, from a pool of 144 entries, Jeremy won ISWNE’s Golden Quill award for best editorial. He remains one of the lynchpins of ISWNE.”

John C. Koch, president of the board for Freeman Education and Research LLC, wrote, “One consistent challenge for smaller communities such as Freeman (population 1,300) is attracting and maintaining a leadership core that can help the community look both at itself and to the future…. Fortunately, the paper and Jeremy are not just observers of our community’s life; that’s not in their DNA. They are participants, advocates and workers.” Koch said Jeremy “is not afraid to take on those inertia issues that often plague small towns and drive younger populations away. The fact that he does this is important, but the way that he does it may be equally important. He listens and is often that person who brings parties together or makes them aware of the interests of each other to the benefit of the community…. Respectful change agents cannot be overvalued.”

Past Daniel M. Phillips Leadership Award winners are listed at www.nnaweb.org.

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.