Pulitzer Prize winner and beloved Professor, Michael Lindenberger, passes away

Michael Lindenberger

A UH professor of various Communications courses, Michael Lindenberger, died over the winter break before the Spring semester. At 51, Lindenberger worked not only teaching classes with Valenti, but also acted as the deputy opinion editor at the Houston Chronicle.

Lindenberger taught classes such as Mass Communications Law and Ethics at the University of Houston for over a decade, said Lindenberger’s colleague Jae Lee.

“The news is heartbreaking,” said Lindenberger’s former student Brian Crumby. “He was so passionate about making sure we were all going to be successful and was candid about not feeling well for much of the semester. Even so, he was available and eager to support us. My thoughts and condolences are with his loved ones.”

Linenberger’s accomplishments go far past the work he did at UH. He wrote for the Dallas Morning News as a city hall reporter, transportation writer and Washington correspondent for business. In 2018, he moved to the editorial desk at the Houston Chronicle. Throughout the years, Lindenberger also worked as vice president and editorial page editor of the Kansas City Star. To top all of his experience off, he previously worked for The Courier Journal in Louisville, as well as contributed in being a national legal affairs correspondent for Time and Time.com, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Before working as a professor, as a college student himself, Lindenberger acted as editor of his college newspaper at the University of Louisville School of Law, according to LocalToday

A major highlight of Lindenberger’s career came just a few months before his passing in December of 2022. In May of 2022, Lindenberger and three colleagues earned a Pulitzer Prize for their work “The Big Lie,” which exposed voter suppression and rejected the myth of widespread voter fraud, according to The Courier Journal.

“He deeply believed in the power of good information to triumph over bad, in journalism to illuminate problems and solutions and in finding common ground when it was tempting to only find fault,” Lisa Falkenberg, who worked alongside Lindenberger to win the Pulitzer Prize, said to the Houston Chronicle.

Chris Poynter, a former Courier Journal reporter and Lindenberger’s college roommate at Western Kentucky University, told The Courier Lindenberger’s doctor had been unable to identify the cause of his illness.

In his own endeavors, Lindenberger launched “Bourbon Story Magazine” in 2014. Due to missing financial goals, the magazine shut down the following year. In 2019, he launched the Bourbon Story website with a broader focus than just whiskey, but on other cocktails and cultural impacts as well. He converted the magazine into a newsletter and launched that two years ago, his last post being in May of 2021.

Lindenberger had been working on a book about a Kentucky-born poet, Robert Penn Warren, as a fellow Kentucky native himself. Ponter said Lindenberger was working on the book for 10 years leading up to his death.

Along with the long list of accomplishments and acknowledgments, Lindenberger was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 2012-2013. Part of the task of a John S. Knight fellow was being selected into a group of 20 fellows all together to work for 10 months on solutions to the most urgent problems facing journalism, according to Stanford University.

Lindenberger’s work and legacy are survived by his friends, family and those who had the opportunity to work with him throughout his journalism career that spanned over 30 years.