One of our own is soon to be inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.
W. Davis “Buzz” Merritt Jr., former Eagle editor, will be inducted in a ceremony on April 7 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka.
Professor Mike Kautsch, former dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and now a full professor in media law at the University of Kansas Law School, will also be inducted.
The ceremony for the two men will take place during the annual Kansas Press Association convention.
Longtime readers of The Wichita Eagle will remember Merritt at the paper from 1975 through 1998. He is still a regular columnist for The Eagle.
He is considered one of the fathers of public journalism, which was a national reform movement that urged journalists to help citizens engage in public life.
“It is a tribute to a lot of really fine journalists I worked with over 60 years,” Merritt said of his upcoming induction. “Nobody accomplishes anything on their own. I had a lot of help from a lot of people.
Merritt is the author of four journalism books, including “Public Journalism and Public Life,” “Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk” and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Perfect.” He also co-wrote “The Two W’s of Journalism” with Maxwell McCombs.
Merritt was a Morehead Scholar and graduated in 1958 from the University of North Carolina. He worked for Knight Newspapers at The Charlotte Observer, The Boca Raton (Florida) News and was news editor in Knight Newspapers’ Washington Bureau before coming to Wichita.
Kautsch joined the KU School of Law in 1997 to start a program in media law studies and is a professor of law. He was a media law consultant for the Kansas Press Association and has helped journalists try to strengthen the state’s open government laws. He has taught on media law topics, media and the First Amendment, copyright law and digital works, digital privacy rights in an open society and has led the media, law and technology certificate program.