‘Committed to journalism’: Pulitzer-winning journalist, Herald alum dies at 51

Photo courtesy of Michael Lindenbergers website.

Photo courtesy of Michael Lindenberger’s website.

Alexandria Anderson, Content Editor

Michael Lindenberger, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, editorial writer and former Herald staff member, passed away this weekend in his home in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 51.

Lindenberger worked as the editorial page editor and a vice president of the Kansas City Star at the time of his death. He served in a variety of roles throughout his career in journalism, beginning with his college newspapers and progressing to roles in Louisville, Dallas and Houston, Texas and Kansas City.

This year, Lindenberger earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Houston Chronicle, in which he and three colleagues published a series of editorials covering “The Big Lie” about politician’s attempts to reject the existence of voter fraud and further voter suppression.

Before his work in Houston, Lindenberger served in multiple roles at The Dallas Morning News, reporting with a focus on politics and social justice. 

Lindenberger also worked at the Courier Journal in Louisville, where he served as a regional reporter and bureau chief in Elizabethtown. Before this, he was the chief political writer for the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

In the early 1990s, Lindenberger worked as a staff member for the Herald before transferring to the University of Louisville, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Louisville Cardinal for two terms.

Outside of journalism, Lindenberger was a graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at UofL using his law degree to become a contract employee for Time magazine as well as a college teacher of media, law and ethics.

Lindenberger was an avid reader and founder of the Bourbon Story blog, following the widespread bourbon boom. According to the Courier Journal, he would boast that he had interviewed every Kentucky governor since Wallace Wilkinson.

I wish I had a tenth of the writing ability that Michael Lindenberger had, and he shared that talent with the nation really, through the editorials he wrote in the Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle and most recently the Kansas City Star.”

— Chris Poynter

Chris Poynter, Lindenberger’s close friend and college roommate at WKU, said one of the greatest things he remembers about him is that “he was committed to journalism, deeply committed, at a very young age.”

Poynter reflected on the time he shared with Lindenberger working at the Herald, describing one memory about an assignment given to Lindenberger about state funding cuts at Kentucky universities.

“He was so excited about that assignment and talked about it the years down the road,” Poynter said. “In fact, just as recently as in the past year, about how amazed he was that a college newspaper that was run by students was willing to send him, a new student to Western, all over the state to report a story that would end up in the Herald.”

Poynter also said another fond memory was when Lindenberger won a Pulitzer prize, which he called “the pinnacle of your career” as a journalist.

“I’ll never forget, I was working from home that day, and he called me and I just thought he was calling to catch up and he said, ‘I just won the Pulitzer,’” Poynter said. “I’ve never been so overjoyed in my life. We both were just sitting there on the phone crying.”

Lindenberger was a deep thinker and incredible writer whose writing skills continually improved, Poynter said. He described Lindenberger’s contributions to Time magazine and how he will be remembered for the social significance of his work.

“I wish I had a tenth of the writing ability that Michael Lindenberger had, and he shared that talent with the nation really, through the editorials he wrote in the Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle and most recently the Kansas City Star,” Poynter said. “[…] When Michael was writing for Time Magazine, he was writing weighty, significant national pieces that really made a difference. It was all because he was a great storyteller. He was just a wonderful storyteller.”

Content editor Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]