Four named to Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame

Posted July 21, 2022

Four longtime Kansas journalists have been selected for induction into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame later this year.

They are:

• Murrel Bland, former owner of Wyandotte West.

• Jean Hays, former investigations editor of the Wichita Eagle.

• John Marshall, a former Harris Enterprises reporter and former owner of the Lindsborg News-Record.

• Bill Roy, of the Wichita Business Journal.

The induction ceremony for the four will take place on Oct. 1 at the Meridian Center in Newton, along with presentations of the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor Award, the Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award, the Boyd Award for Community Service and the Victor Murdock Award.

Here are profiles of the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees:


Bill Roy

The editor-in-chief of the Wichita Business Journal since 2003, Roy was the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor in 2021.

Roy, a graduate of Kansas State University, began his career with a Garden City radio station, then served at KFDI in Wichita for 10 years as a reporter, news anchor and even a “storm chaser.” After intermediate stints at the Wichita Eagle and KWCH-TV, he joined the Wichita Business Journal.

 Roy introduced the WBJ to the digital age, helping it convert from a weekly operation to a digital-first news operation. He started a podcast that has produced more than 200 episodes.

Kirk Seminoff, associate editor, said, “Bill is a warm, kind, caring, funny man, and his journalistic chops rival anyone in the state.”


John Marshall

Marshall’s long journalism career began following his graduation from the University of Kansas School of Journalism in 1969, where he was named the outstanding senior.

He served a year at the Rochester, N.Y. Times Union before joining the Salina Journal in 1970, where he primarily covered local government and politics.

For 27 years, he was a reporter, editor and publisher for the Hutchinson-based Harris Newspaper Group.

He was Kansas correspondent in Topeka from 1975 to 1976, joining the Hutchinson News in 1976 as Sunday editor and business editor. He was named executive editor of the News in 1978.

He was editor and publisher of the Olathe Daily News from 1979 to 1985, when he took over as editor of the Harris Group’s expanded wire services for the eight newspapers in Kansas.

In 2001, he and his wife, Rebecca Rice, an attorney and lobbyist, purchased the Lindsborg News-Record. After winning numerous state and regional awards, they sold the newspaper in 2021.

He continues to write weekly for the Rural Messenger in Kansas.

Mike Shields, a former colleague, said, “A Marshall column is always a gem of observation and common sense underpinned by prodigious legwork.”


Jean Hays

After attending Wichita State University, Hays began working at the Wichita Eagle in 1976 and didn’t leave until she retired in 2021.

She began as a general assignment reporter, but found her calling in environmental accountability journalism.

“She told of how defunct mines and industries left a poisonous legacy in southeast Kansas, how saltwater was polluting the Equus Beds aquifer, how mega hog farms could be environmental hazards and how one of Wichita’s largest employers dumped  14,000 cubic yards of construction rubble along a 1,125-foot stretch of the Arkansas River – and did so with the approval of the city, leading to EPA fines for both,” wrote her executive editor, Michael Roehrman.

After 20 years as a reporter, she moved into an editor’s post and retired as investigations editor. Hays retired one year after editing the work that brought the Eagle the highest journalism award in its history, the Polk Award, in 2020.

As one of her reporters, Chance
Swaim, pointed out: “The best editors help reporters become the best versions of themselves. Jean Hays did that for me, as she has for a trove of accomplished reporters who came before me.”


Murrel Bland

Bland is a 1963 graduate of the University of Kansas in journalism.

Following college, he served active duty with the U.S. Air Force before moving to Kansas City, Kan., in 1964.

While in college, he interned with the Ottawa Herald and Topeka Daily Capital and State Journal.

He was a photographer and writer for the Kansas City Star from 1964 to 1968, when he left to found a new publication, the Wyandotte West newspaper, which he published until 2004.

He was a board member of the Kansas Press Association from 1975 until 1988, serving as president from 1986 to 1987.

Bland was a member of the committee that planned, raised money and helped facilitate the William Allen White documentary, “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” a Kevin Wilmott film.

He has continued a consulting business since he left Wyandotte West.