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George W. Norris. NSHS RG3298-2-3 (left).

On May 5, 1931, the Fremont Evening Tribune reported that Tribune editor Charles S. Ryckman had been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the best editorial article published in an American newspaper during the year 1930. The award was among those given each year for excellence in American journalism, letters, drama, and music.

A Pulitzer Prize was awarded Ryckman for an editorial on Senator George W. Norris entitled “The Gentleman from Nebraska,” published in the Tribune on November 7, 1930. The Tribune noted that in making the selection, consideration was given to “clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, . . . To be selected for this honor, one of the highest possible of attainment in the newspaper profession, is a signal tribute to the young editor of the Tribune. In being considered for the prize, Ryckman’s work was placed in competition with that of all editorial writers in the United States, including those on the large metropolitan journals.”

The article selected as the outstanding editorial of 1930 was written by Ryckman following Norris’s re-election to the United States Senate in November. When the senator was returned for a fourth term, after defeating Democrat Gilbert M. Hitchcock, Ryckman tried to analyze the spirit and sentiment of the Nebraska voters who had re-elected Norris, writing in his prize-winning editorial:

“As a senator, Norris has given Nebraska something the state never had before. He has put the ‘Gentleman from Nebraska’ on every front page in America, and has kept him there. . . . But the publicity Norris gets for Nebraska is not the whole story. His real strength in Nebraska is measured by the antagonisms he stirs up beyond the borders of the state. His people take delight in setting him on the heels of the ruling powers, whether of government, of finance or of industry. The more he makes himself obnoxious to a political party, to a national administration or to Wall street, the better they like him.”

Norris’s home in McCook, Nebraska, which served as his home base throughout his political career, is now the Senator George Norris State Historic Site.

 

– Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications