Najachts recognized by newspaper peers

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Charley and Norma Najacht, a husband and wife team with more than four decades of experience in weekly newspaper publishing, have been selected for induction into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame.

The Najachts will be recognized for the Hall of Fame honor during the joint convention of the South Dakota and North Dakota newspaper associations May 30-June 1 at Medora, N.D. A more formal induction ceremony will occur during South Dakota Newspaper Association’s (SDNA) 2020 convention April 23-25 in Deadwood.

“Charley and Norma Najacht have set a high standard for their commitment to community journalism,” said SDNA president Debbie Hemmer, co-publisher of the Grant County Review at Milbank. “Their work and their newspapers exemplify what community newspapering is all about. Their induction into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame is well deserved.”

The Najachts began their newspapering career in 1972 at Hot Springs where Charley became publisher of the Hot Springs Star. That was followed by stints at a newspaper in Broken Bow, Neb., and Cameron, Mo., before they returned to South Dakota in 1999 to purchase the Custer County Chronicle and the Hill City Prevailer. They later purchased the Winner Advocate.

Charley was president of SDNA in 2012-13. He retired in 1999 from the Nebraska Army National Guard with the rank of colonel and 31 years of military service, which included a year in Vietnam as an infantry rifle platoon leader. He started at the Hot Springs Star in 1972 as a “jack-of-all trades” and was named publisher in early 1977 when the newspaper was purchased by Smith Newspapers of Ft. Payne, Ala. 

Norma started working at the Hot Springs Star in 1975. An artist, she was juried into the International Guild of Realism and its first-ever Winter Salon Online Exhibition in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this year for her “The Vigil” portrait of her grandson, Isaiah. Winning artists came from 16 countries. 

Both Charley and Norma have been recognized by their peers for their newspapering talents and accomplishments. Over the years each has won more than 100 awards in SDNA’s annual contests for writing, commentary, photography and advertising.

The Najachts are only the second husband and wife team to be inducted into the Newspaper Hall of Fame. Fritz and Ida Clement, longtime publishers of the Selby Record, were inducted in 1985.

Plaques honoring members of the Newspaper Hall of Fame are displayed at the Anson & Ada May Yeager Hall at South Dakota State University. The SDSU Department of Journalism and Mass Communications has been home to the Newspaper Hall of Fame ever since the Hall was established in 1934. More information can be found at sdna.com.

South Dakota News-paper Association, based in Brookings, represents the state’s 125 weekly and daily newspapers.