Congratulations are in order for Bonita Gooch, editor-in-chief and owner of The Community Voice.  She has been selected for induction into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.   The Hall of Fame is an honor roll of Kansas journalists who made outstanding contributions to their profession.

Formed in 1931, the requirements for consideration included spending a majority of one’s career in an executive role in the newspaper industry in Kansas.  Members are voted on by previous hall of fame inductees and past presidents of the Kansas Press Association.  Up until this year, 140 Kansas journalists had been inducted into the hall, all of them White and just seven of them females.  

Gooch purchased The Community Voice in 1996 from Billy and Yvette McCray after her father encouraged her to use her journalism and public administration degrees in her hometown of Wichita.  The newspaper, in its 29th year, is a trusted source of news and information for the African-American communities of Kansas and the Kansas City metro area. 

During her 27 years at the helm of the free-circulation, bi-weekly newspaper, Gooch has grown the publication into a multiplatform news source with an electronic edition, a state-of-the-art website, multiple newsletters, a YouTube channel and active social media streams.  In addition, Gooch has grown the paper’s circulation in recent years despite a downturn in the industry.  

In 2021, the issue arose among Kansas Press Association members about the Hall of Fame’s lack of diversity and full representation of the state’s newspaper industry.  A committee was formed to look at the issue and how past requirements for admission may have precluded many journalists.    

The committee began identifying individuals “who may have been overlooked due to norms of the past,” said Emily Bradbury, KPA executive director.

Minor changes were made to the selection process. One was removing the requirement to be an executive at a newspaper and adding “longtime employee” as the criteria.

As a result, and in an effort to play catchup,  34 new members were nominated and selected for induction in the 2023 Hall of Fame.  It is the largest class in the Hall’s history. This year’s class includes 30 women. 

In addition to Gooch, two other members of the 2023 class are African-American women: Patricia Weems Gaston and Vickie Walton-James.  

After a stellar career at the Washington Post, Gaston joined the University of Kansas as the Lacy C. Haynes Professor. At the Post, she worked on several desks, including National, Foreign and Editorial. Prior to her work at the Post, she worked at the Dallas Morning News and was co-editor of the 1994 international reporting Pulitzer Prize-winning series on violence against women.

Vickie Walton-James is a native of Kansas City, Kan. and a graduate of the University

of Kansas and currently serves as managing editor/news for NPR.  In this position, she is responsible for the news gathering efforts of all NPR desks, shows and platforms. She started her career as a news clerk at the Kansas City Star but won quick promotions to reporter, editor and columnist.

The Kansas Media Hall of Famer, a combination of the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame and the Kansas Broadcasting Hall of Fame, is located in Stauffer/Flint Hall at the University of Kansas.  Bios on members of the hall are available online.  

The formal induction service is in November.