Kimberly Barker, a reporter for The Joplin Globe, has been selected to receive the 2021 William E. James Outstanding Young Journalist Award from the Missouri Press Association.

Barker will receive her award in September during MPA’s 155th annual convention and trade show, which will be held in Excelsior Springs. Also to be recognized will be Geoffrey Woehlk, with the Maryville Forum, who will receive the award among young journalists of weekly newspapers.

“The Missouri Press Association recognizes Kimberly and Geoffrey for their excellent news reporting, community engagement and dedication to holding the powerful accountable,” said Liz Irwin, publisher of Missouri Lawyers Weekly and president of MPA, in a statement.

Winners of the William E. James Outstanding Young Journalist Award have demonstrated excellence in the field of journalism and maintained the quality, ethics and standards of The Journalist’s Creed, written by Walter Williams, founding dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Editors or publishers submit nominations for the awards, and nominees must have been younger than 30 years old on Jan. 1, 2021. The aim of the award is to reinforce the importance of a journalist’s role by recognizing and nurturing talent to further promote quality journalism.

Barker joined the Globe’s staff in May 2017 and since that time has taken “complete ownership of her beats and is well engaged in the geographic areas that she covers,” wrote Managing Editor Emily Younker in her nomination letter.

Not only does Barker have the ability to understand key topics and issues important to her readers, but she also continues to demonstrate her ability to relay that information in easily understandable ways, Younker wrote.

“(Barker) is a great team player who tackles any assignment she is given and works well on collaborative projects with others in the newsroom,” Younker wrote. “Whether it is breaking news or a long-term feature, a complex topic or a simple one, meeting coverage or enterprise reporting, she rises to the challenge every time.”

Graduating from Middle Tennessee State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Barker has experience working for a Nashville magazine and the university’s student newspaper. In November 2014, she joined the Miami (Oklahoma) News-Record as a staff writer and photojournalist.

Younker said the Globe’s readers are better informed because of Barker’s coverage of the community and the way she chronicles the people who live there.

“She has informed communities of issues they need to know. She has thoughtfully and sensitively shared people’s stories of triumph and tragedy,” Younker wrote. “And from our newsroom’s perspective, she is an enthusiastic journalist who is dedicated to learning more about her craft every day.”

William E. “Bill” James, the namesake for this award, served as publisher of the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal from November 2007 until his death in November 2013. He was publisher of the Cass County Democrat-Missourian in Harrisonville from 1985 to 2000 and was president of the Missouri Press Association in 1998. He was inducted into the MPA Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2001.

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