On June 23, 2018, RTDNA Executive Director Dan Shelley was this year’s sole recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Missouri State
|Shelley, right, with Missouri State University President Clif Smart
Photo: Missouri State University Alumni Association
Below are excerpts of his acceptance remarks.
Thank you, my old friend Brent [Dunn, Missouri State University vice president of university advancement].
Thank you to the board of governors who are represented here tonight, President [Clif] Smart, to [alumni association] Chairwoman [Tina] Stillwell; to Dean Shawn Wahl [of the College of Arts and Letters], who nominated me for this distinguished honor; my fellow honorees – congratulations; and other distinguished guests.
Thank you to the alumni association for this incredible honor. I feel blessed tonight.
I am blessed that the education I received at Missouri State University allowed me to make modest contributions as a journalist, here in Springfield, to the other communities where I have lived, and – now – as executive director of RTDNA.
It’s great to be home.
True story: I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant today and the fortune in my fortune cookie read as follows: “Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.”
They certain did, thanks, in large part, to Missouri State.
I must say, though, that the Springfield I came home to this weekend is not the Springfield I left in 1995. In some ways that is extremely good. In other ways, not so much.
With the exceptions of KSMU, KOZK, KTTS and the Nexstar- and Gray-owned television stations here – and the occasional outstanding reporting in the [Springfield] News-Leader – the journalism climate here in Springfield is much different than when I left in 1995.
There’s not nearly the level of newsroom staffing. Not nearly the number of hard-hitting investigative reports. Not nearly as many flagrant acts of responsible journalism. Local government entities employ more public information officers whom they use – often for very good reasons, but sometimes not – to control what you get to know.
Too often, if I want to know what’s going on in my hometown, I have to stay up late on a weekend night and watch the Greene County Sheriff’s Department on [A&E network’s] “Live PD.”
I know there is much more to the Ozarks than the seedy underbelly depicted on that show.
So I urge everyone in this room to support local quality journalism. Tell the media outlets in this community that you want more and better journalism, and then help them – through your underwriting and advertising dollars and in other ways – to fulfill their constitutionally-guaranteed responsibility to serve as catalysts for positive change by seeking and reporting the truth.
My gratitude – again – to the alumni association for this honor, of which I am more proud and humbled than I could ever adequately express.
Thank you. Good night.