Steve Pokin at an interview. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Correction: Colin Shea Denniston, the engagement and style editor at 417 Magzine, is recognized in this year’s Springfield Business Journal’s list of Forty Under 40. The original version of this story stated there were no journalists on the list.


This week I had to lick my wounds once again and rise from the depths of despondency.

The Springfield Business Journal released its annual list of still-rising professionals in Southwest Missouri — Forty Under 40 — and there was only one journalist on it. Usually, there aren’t any.

I did see that Kathryn Wall, a former journalist who worked at the News-Leader, made this year’s list, too. Congratulations!

It feels like high school all over again

A few years ago, I nominated News-Leader sports writer Wyatt Wheeler. For naught.

This year a colleague nominated fellow reporter Rance Burger. Again, nothing.

I wrote a letter of recommendation this year for my boss, managing editor Brittany Meiling.

When I saw she wasn’t chosen, I was upset, stung. But not for long. I found out she didn’t complete the extensive paperwork needed to apply.

Daily Citizen staff in 2022. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

She tells me her mother, who is familiar with the annual Forty Under 40 lists, told her she was probably too light in civic engagement. Brittany figured she wouldn’t make the cut, anyway.

I don’t know why that dissuaded Brittany. There are people who can fill in otherwise unimpressive spots on a resume. People like George Santos.

This annual list feels like high school all over again. Why can’t newshounds be cool kids, too?

I’m definitely over 40, not sure if I’m still rising

Personally, I’m long past being an accomplished but still-rising professional in Southwest Missouri who is under 40.

In July, I will be 70 — and it’s hard for me to determine if I’m still rising.

That’s why I’m starting a new recognition program in July.

It’s something I call Seventy Over 70.

I’m working on qualifications, but they definitely will include professional accomplishments and civic engagement, even if that engagement includes occasionally upsetting a few people with hard-edged news stories.

What I’m looking for in 70 Over 70

Of course, I will be nominating myself.

And I think it best that I be the only judge. I don’t want to spend too much time on this because, after all, even though I might not be rising, I’m still up-to-my-eyeballs working and writing.

By my math, this means I need at least 69 other nominations.

Here’s what I’m looking for in nominees.

First, you have to be alive.

‘Breathing’ at the top of the list

Breathing is big here because I want those I laud and recognize to physically attend my Seventy Over 70 Awards night gala, which will be held at 4:15 p.m. on a Thursday.

Soft food will be served.

To be selected for Seventy Over 70, you must display civic engagement, just like those chosen for Forty Under 40.

I’m looking for folks my age and beyond who, for example, consider their neighbors when turning up the volume on their TV.

I’m looking for people who hand out peppermints at worship service.

And they vote. In droves. Even if it means driving 18 mph to get there.

Finally, I’m looking for people who use the “eggplant” emoji to represent an eggplant.

Winners will not be announced online

There you have it: Seventy Over 70. (Or, “Steve Pokin and 69 Others Over 70.”)

You have until July 14 to submit an application. I suspect most of you will apply early.

I will announce the winners not online but via a personal letter — in very large type.

This is Pokin Around column No. 90.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin