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Two of my favorite journalists are being honored in the next few weeks so forgive me if I'm a bit parochial here today.

Our own John Nichols isn't getting an award from Scott Walker or the Wisconsin Legislature to be sure, but the Council for Wisconsin Writers is giving him its Major Achievement Award for work of outstanding merit at its awards banquet in Milwaukee on Saturday, May 10. The honor, which is the organization's highest award, comes with a $1,000 prize. With any luck, he'll buy me a beer with his largesse.

Seriously, John Nichols is not only a magnificent writer, but in my 52 years in this business, I've never met a journalist who works harder at what he does. As many of you know, John is not only our associate editor who writes three or four columns a week and many of our editorials, he is also the Washington editor for the Nation magazine, a job which often takes him to the nation's capital and in touch with the people who pull the governmental strings.

But that's not all. You've heard him on national television and radio, especially at the height of Wisconsin's uprising over the Scott Walker anti-union maneuvers and he's either authored or co-authored 10 books on the media, politics and American history.

Having worked with him for the past 20 years, John has helped me stay young with his nonstop pace and quick decision-making. He truly is one of a kind.

The second journalist to be honored this spring is none other than David Maraniss, the Madison native, Pulitzer Prize winning newspaperman and internationally acclaimed author of several best-selling biographies and histories.

David will receive an honorary degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's commencement ceremony on Friday, May 16. David attended the UW but didn't graduate, electing instead to jump into the world of newspapering before his senior year. 

He's always been a member of The Capital Times family. His dad, Elliott, preceded me as editor of the paper and was my mentor during my first two decades at The Cap Times. David himself worked here a couple of summers before winding up at The Washington Post, where he remains an associate editor.

His books include biographies of Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and my favorite, "They Marched Into Sunlight," which juxtaposes a battle in Vietnam and the first of the student protests on the UW campus here. And his books on sports legends Vince Lombardi ("When Pride Still Mattered") and Roberto Clemente ("Clemente") have already become classics.

David and his wife, Linda, who became sweethearts while attending Madison West High School, maintain a home here and have taken part in many civic causes.

No two journalists are more deserving of their honors than Nichols and Maraniss.

Another longtime hero of mine, Tom Lyon, is also receiving an honorary degree during the commencement ceremonies. Tom has been a leader in Wisconsin agriculture and conservation and was instrumental in nurturing the state's farm cooperative movement, including leading the world's largest animal genetics cooperative. He's served on the university's Board of Regents and was the board's president when Donna Shalala was named chancellor and Katharine Lyall UW System president. 

He along with Maraniss and Rocco Landesman, the former National Endowment for the Arts chair, comprise a stellar honorary degree trio.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and @DaveZweifel

 

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.