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Michael Lindenberger confesses to a love affair with deadlines, headlines and bylines that distracted him from a planned academic career. As a teenager, he spent more time reading than anyone he knew. It took him more than a decade to earn a college degree. But that’s because he also did stints as managing editor of The Evening News in Jeffersonville, Ind.; investigative reporter at The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky.; and city hall reporter at The Dallas Morning News. He graduated in 2003 with a bachelors’ degree in political science from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He then joined The Courier-Journal in Louisville, where he was a bureau chief and state correspondent. At night, he went to law school, receiving his degree in 2006 from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. He credits school with bringing discipline to his learning. He also started writing national legal affairs pieces for TIME.com. When The Courier-Journal closed its state desk in 2006, he went back to The Dallas Morning News and made his mark in transportation coverage.