Pulitzer Prize winner and Missouri School of Journalism alumnus Lynden Steele will be the next steward of the most prestigious photojournalism contest in the world, the Pictures of the Year International competition.
Steele’s appointment, which begins Jan. 8, was announced today by Randy Picht, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. He’ll take over the reins at a pivotal time for the contest, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2018.
In recognition of the POYI milestone and the ever-broadening role of photojournalism in the news industry, RJI changed the title of the position Steele will be moving into from POYI director to RJI director of photojournalism. The new job duties will include overseeing the contest, teaching, and exploring emerging trends and topics in the field.
“We realized that this person was in a great position to advocate for photojournalism in the industry and beyond,” Picht said. “So it made sense to create an appropriate title to match.”
Steele has worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since 2008 and as the assistant managing editor of photography since 2014. He and his staff won the Pulitzer for Breaking News Photography and the POYI Director’s Choice in 2015. His staff, along with the Post-Dispatch’s graphics team, won an EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher in 2014 for Best Use of Photography on a Website.
Prior to his work in St. Louis, Steele was a picture editor at the White House and edited the photography book “Portrait of a Leader: George W. Bush.”
He started his career as a staff photographer at the Monroe (Michigan) Evening News, and also worked as a staff photographer for Copley newspapers.
A native of Jefferson City, Missouri, Steele is married to Jody Mitori, also a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. She currently works as the manager of communications and special events at Washington University Libraries in St. Louis and previously was the assistant managing editor for features at the Post-Dispatch. They have three children, 8-year-old twins and a 12-year-old son.
RJI opened its doors in 2008 with the mission of strengthening democracy through better journalism. It serves as a research and development hub for the Missouri School of Journalism and forms close collaborations with industry partners that often leverage the enthusiasm and expertise of students and professors. It’s also the headquarters for the Pictures of the Year International competition.
Created in 1944 at the Missouri School of Journalism as The First Exhibition of Spot News and Feature Photography, founder Cliff Edom intended to recognize newspaper and magazine photographers on the World War II home front. It has evolved into an international competition with more than 40,000 entries annually and affiliated with the Reynolds Journalism Institute in 2008. Ethical visual reporting and in-depth storytelling are the hallmarks of this awards and educational program that consistently represents the gold standard in photojournalism. POYI receives financial support from RJI and from the photographers, editors and publications who enter the annual competition, and from the growing POYI Endowment.
A retrospective exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of POYI opens April 6, 2018, and will be on display until Jan. 20, 2019, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.