Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Call Me When You Win a Pulitzer..."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Tuesday, Oct. 19 the News Literacy Project (NLP) launched its McCormick-funded work in Chicago Public Schools with a keynote speech by veteran journalist Clarence Page to more than 200 elementary students at the Marquette School on the city’s south west side. DC-based NLP, which brings seasoned journalists into middle schools and high schools to help give students the critical thinking skills to sort fact from fiction in the digital age, is coordinating its work in Chicago in partnership with LISC (the Local Initiatives Support Corporation) to incorporate its model in five public schools. Inaugural speakers included McCormick’s President and CEO David Hiller, NLP Executive Director Alan Miller and Chicago LISC Senior Program Director Andrew Mooney.

Page spoke to a full auditorium, then took questions from seven students who crowded on stage with questions. Below is an edited version of the Q&A exchange between Page and Marquette students.

What was your most dangerous assignment?
It was when I was covering Soweto in South Africa. We drove our Land Rover out to a small town to talk with some freedom fighters. They told us – ‘Oh, they mine that road at night. You might want to return on the same road – and take the lane you came in on!’

Why did you decide to write a book?
I write a column two times per week. But it’s never enough space to put all my thoughts in!

What is the difference between fact and truth?
Do you guys know the writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway? They were fiction writers, but began as newspaper reporters. Fitzgerald once said that the difference between them is that nonfiction deals with facts while novelists write truths. Did you get that? It’s like the Bible – it has lots of facts about Moses and Jesus, but also lots of truths. Like the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We columnists write truths. That’s why we write short!

Is writing a column hard?
I’ve been writing columns since high school. It’s just as hard now as when I started. Nothing concentrates the mind like a good deadline. It’s a beautiful thing to put on paper what you have in your head. Do you know what I mean? And it’s great when people tell you afterwards thanks for writing this or that.

Best part of working for the Chicago Tribune?
Probably the vacation!
Have you seen Tribune Tower? It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. Especially when it’s all lit up at night.

Have you ever interviewed a teen celebrity?
Years ago I interviewed Michael Jackson. He was a teen at the time. In the end, celebrities are people.

I’m from southern Ohio. My mother wanted me to be a doctor. Always seemed sort of disappointed. But one day my parents came to Chicago. Saw me on TV. I saw that look in her eyes that I hadn’t seen since I was six. Went into a grocery store, and the guy behind the counter said ‘Aren’t you Clarence Page?’ My mom jumped in and said ‘Yes, and he’s my son!’

Page ended by talking about the nurturing he received as a high school student working on the school paper in Middletown, Ohio. His journalism adviser, Mrs. Kendall, often encouraged him to continue in the field. One day years later, just after being awarded a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, he happened to thumb through his old high school senior year book. There was an inscription from Mrs. Kendall that he’d forgotten. She’d written: "Call me when you win a Pulitzer." He did just that. Today they’re friends on Facebook.

For more information on NLP, visit

Read the full story

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

McCormick Foundation Freedom of Speech Public Service Announcement Winners Announced

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The McCormick Foundation journalism program congratulates the winners of the 2009 Freedom of Speech public service announcement (PSA) competition for college communications students. The student-produced PSAs are 30 seconds each and address "What freedom of speech means to me." 

The NAB Education Foundation (NABEF) and the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) recognized the first place winners at the NAB headquarters in Washington D.C. on Oct. 14, 2009. During the luncheon, titled "Freedom of Speech in the Digital Media Arena," the winning students received scholarships in the amounts of $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. 

The winners are:

Television Category
1st Place: Chris Newell, Biola University 
2nd Place: Monique L. Pelletier, New England School of Communications
3rd Place: Michelle Wood, The Art Institute of Atlanta

Radio Category
1st Place: Stuart Mouritzen, USC
2nd Place: Theresa Rozwadowski, Central Michigan University
3rd place: Melodie Turori and Rob Croft, Biola University
The luncheon also featured a panel of broadcasters and journalists. Participants included:
  • Blanquita Walsh Cullum, governor, United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
  • Russell C. Hodge, founder, executive producer, 3 Roads Communications, Inc.
  • Paul Rodriguez, managing director of media, Burson-Marsteller
  • Kevin Z. Smith, president, Society of Professional Journalists, assistant professor of Journalism, Fairmont State University
Timing of the awards is in recognition of National Freedom of Speech Week, October  20-26. NAB and McCormick Foundation encourage stations to air these spots, available for download at the NAB Web site .

Did your station air these spots? Let us know what you think. 

Read the full story

Monday, October 19, 2009

Medill Students at Center of Cook County Prosecutor Flap

Monday, October 19, 2009

In 2003, students working with the Innocence Project at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism began investigating the case of Anthony McKinney, a man they believed wrongly convicted for a 1978 shooting death. By 2006, they had turned up enough evidence to successfully petition Cook County Circuit Court for a new hearing for McKinney.

But now the Cook County state's attorney's office wants more than what the students have turned over so far. They've subpoenaed students' grades, off-the-record notes, unpublished memos and even e-mails among themselves and the Innocence Project founder, Medill Professor David Protess. Protess says that it isn't "the state's business to know the state of mind" of his students, and says the office should be more concerned with the wrongful conviction.

However, the prosecutors claim that they need this information in order to determine witnesses' credibility and "other essential issues." They also argue that Protess and his students and not journalists and not protected by the Illinois Reporter's Privilege Act, which protects journalists' sources.

Medill dean John Lavine begs to differ: "They took reporting to the nth degree."

Read the whole story here.

Read the full story

Friday, October 16, 2009

Announcement: Technology Mini-Grants for Media Work with Chicago Youth

Friday, October 16, 2009

Roosevelt University’s Department of Communication is pleased to announce the creation of a McCormick Foundation-funded Chicago 2010 Youth Media Technology Fund. The goal of this experimental fund is to help educators and nonprofit youth programs gain access to the technology they need to further their journalistic work with young people. This initiative grows out of Roosevelt’s long-time commitment to Chicago-area scholastic journalism and the McCormick Foundation Journalism Program’s commitment to youth media and news literacy work both inside and outside of schools. Specifics of the fund are:
  • Mini-grants will be for technology that furthers educators’ use of media for reporting (news gathering, interviewing, documentary, community exploration, etc) with young people in the city of Chicago. Grants can be for digital cameras, video cameras, audio equipment, software, computers and other items that further that work.
  • Potential applicants are educators who incorporate media production in their classrooms or in their youth programs (say to produce audio podcasts on community issues or a video on the environment).
  • Grant amounts will range from:

    • $500 maximum for educators who incorporate media in their work at the middle school level (grades 5 to 8)
    • $1,000 maximum for educators who incorporate media in their work with youth in nonprofit programs
    • $2,000 maximum for educators who incorporate media in their work with youth in high schools

  • Applications consist of three simple questions:

    • Who are you and where do you work? (Your name, name and location of school along with grade level you teach, name of nonprofit where you work, your contact information)
    • How do you incorporate media in your work with youth? (Describe your work with youth and how it is furthered by incorporating media, a description or anecdote of any past journalistic work that you and your students have produced, plus a sentence about your philosophy around utilizing media in education)
    • What do you need to purchase and how will it help further your work with youth? (Describe your goals moving forward and very specifically what it is you hope to purchase to help make that possible, including equipment costs)

  • The advisory committee will make a decision on awarding individual grants based on the stated need and compelling nature of the application. The advisory board may follow up with further questions.
  • Upon notification from the Foundation, and before a grant is awarded, the school principal or nonprofit executive director must sign a form approving of this award.
  • Technology purchased through this program will be for the use of the applicant but will become the property of the school or nonprofit where applicants work.

Please share this notice with anyone you think might be interested in this opportunity. Deadline for the first round of grant applications is Dec. 15, 2009. Please submit all proposals electronically. To inquire about the program or submit a proposal, contact Linda Jones at Roosevelt University at

If you know of teachers and/or nonprofit educators who should be aware of this opportunity please forward the attached PDF/Flyer   to them.

Note to Chicago Youth Voices Network members: Please do not submit an application at this time. For details, contact

Read the full story

Monday, October 12, 2009

SEJ's 19th Annual Convergence in Madison

Monday, October 12, 2009

(Photo by Madeline Bodin)
This past weekend the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) held its annual convention, this time in Madison, Wisc. (Next year – Missoula, Mont., followed by Miami in 2011.) As usual, the program was packed with compelling and practical panels, and also featured Al Gore, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, author Wendell Berry, and Andy Revkin of the New York Times among others. Attendance was strong — seems the niche journalism groups are doing well in that category – with approximately 750 registered, 350 SEJ members and working journalists, plus daily passes. There was even a session with Aldo Leopold’s kids (well, aged 89 and 92). See this link for SEJ blog posts, twitter streams and audio on the conference.

We met a number of talented journalists who (unfortunately) left long-time jobs earlier this year, but (fortunately) are being imaginative about ‘reinventing’ themselves. See veteran reporters Emilia Askari, Laura Frank and Robert McClure talk about what they’re up to these days at the McCormick YouTube channel.

Links at:

Read the full story

Friday, October 9, 2009

Call for 2010 Specialized Reporting Institute Applications

Friday, October 09, 2009

The McCormick Foundation (MF) invites non-profit 501(c)3 organizations to submit letters of inquiry (LOI) to conduct a McCormick Foundation Specialized Reporting Institute (SRI). These intensive journalism workshops provide subject-specific expertise and practical reporting training in timely, specialized topics of importance to media consumers. Some topics are initiated and solicited by the Foundation. However, the Journalism Program welcomes unsolicited letters of inquiry for topics that may be of interest to working journalists.

The growing appetite for specialized training on emerging news issues is in recognition of widespread newsroom layoffs and deep cutbacks in media training budgets.  At the same time, many of the hot button issues are complicated and sophisticated. The projects aim to equip reporters and editors with the kind of specialized information they need to cover sophisticated, timely stories. Please see the list of previous SRIs (right click to open in a new tab and download) for sample agendas and programs.

The goal is to arm participants with an expanded source network, valuable reference materials and a list of solid story ideas. The MF institutes will offer participants the opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues, provide “grounding” for generalists to tackle timely emerging issues and rekindle enthusiasm for veteran beat reporters.  We're especially interested in engaging community and ethnic reporters in the SRIs, as well as in projects that incorporate new tools and technology to share the resources and information that come out of the events.

Typically, Specialized Reporting Institutes:
  • Receive grants of $35,000-$50,000.
  • Are organized and administered by a managing partner. The selected grantee is responsible for planning and administering the program from start to finish.
  • Are titled, “McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute: XXXXX (Topic)”
  • Last two to three days  
  • Convene 15-20 working journalists from all media types, particularly from mid-size markets.
  • Require participants to submit an application consisting of a resume, supervisor nomination letter, three work samples and a short essay for consideration.
  • Cover all or most of journalists’ travel, lodging and tuition costs.
  • Feature speaking and discussion sessions and a practical/simulated reporting component or reporting field trip, if applicable.
  • Feature a diverse faculty of topic experts and professionals and journalists who excel in covering the topic.
  • Encourage participants to generate stories and ideas based on the workshop. They also are encouraged to host a brown bag or newsroom training session for colleagues.
  • Are located at the managing partner’s city or at an appropriate travel-friendly location relevant to the topic.
  • Reflect diversity in participants, news organizations and faculty.
  • Are supported primarily by MF.
  • Have a four month to six month planning cycle.
  • Are evaluated both during the institute and three months to six months later.

Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Guidelines
To apply for funding to serve as a managing partner for a McCormick Foundation Specialized Reporting Institute in 2010, please fill out the application cover sheet (right click to open in a new tab and download) and submit an LOI of no more than two pages that describes:
  • The topic, its timeliness and the need for specialized education for journalists
  • The organization’s qualifications to organize and host the event
  • Potential programming ideas, sessions and faculty
  • Proposed cost and tentative budget

The deadline for consideration is November 13, 2009. You will receive a confirmation that we have received your application. The Journalism Program will contact the organization if it needs more information. Please send LOIs electronically to:

Alexandra Altman
Consultant, Journalism Program
McCormick Foundation
205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 4300
Chicago, IL 60601

Photo credit: Lindsey Drakert 

Read the full story

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'Big Brother' Watching Bloggers?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Well, not exactly what you may be thinking. The "Internet police" aren't coming after you for writing about your next-door neighbor.

But on October 5, the Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 to require bloggers to disclose any payments or free merchandise they receive from a company in exchange for reviewing its products. The actual form of disclosure is not regulated, but must be "clear and concise" according to the guidelines.

The new rule is scheduled to take effect December 1, and before bloggers become too nervous about additional scrutiny, Rich Cleland, the assistant director of the FTC's advertising practices division, says that violations are more likely to draw penalties for the advertiser than the blogger, unless the blogger fails to disclose payments or freebies consistently.

For more information, you can read the story here.

Read the full story

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

National Security Journalism Fellowships

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative (NSJI) at Northwestern University is inviting applications for three research fellowships. The goal of the six-month fellowships is to produce actionable research on topics of national security, defense and civil liberties that will inform journalistic practice and increase public engagement in these important topics.

The fellowships aim to raise the level of knowledge and expanding resources available to journalists, policy makers and the public concerning issues of national security. The type of research considered could be:
+ A project to raise awareness of civil liberties by examining possible reactions to a terrorist attack;
+ A program to give the public tools to track "real" costs of the fight against terrorism especially in the Department of Homeland Security;
+ A study to expose less familiar vulnerabilities in national security;
+ Creation of a forum for journalists and the public to share information on regional security issues and their impact on national security; or
+ Research to help track military disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fellows will be selected on the quality of their proposals; a demonstrated interest in print, broadcast or online journalism; and a proven ability to complete detailed projects. However, applicants who have worked in other fields, including academic, non-governmental, technological and military service, are welcome. We prefer fellows to be in residence for most of their fellowship. Fellows also will mentor students and interact with educators and journalists through classes, Web-based learning and professional conferences.

Other specifics:
The fellowships each include a $45,000 stipend plus benefits for six months.
Some travel allowance and research costs are available.
Office space, computer, printer and telephone are provided.
The first fellowship will begin in the first half of 2010 and the other two start in 2011.

Applicants must submit the following postmarked by Dec 1, 2009 (note: deadline has been extended). A complete application includes:
1. A one-page summary of the proposed project and brief explanation of the need it would fill
2. Applicant’s resume/curriculum vitae

Applicants will receive a follow-up contact confirming receipt of the application.

In a two-step process, invitations will be sent to selected candidates by Feb. 1 asking for more details and letters of recommendation.

Please mail the required material to:
Timothy J. McNulty
Co-director, National Security Journalism Initiative
Medill School of Journalism
Northwestern University
1845 Sheridan Road
Evanston IL 60208

Read the full story

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Week @ McCormick Journalism (Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2009)

Friday, October 02, 2009

President Barack Obama proclaimed October National Information Literacy Month. The Journalism Program's work in news literacy dovetails with Obama's message: "Every day, we are inundated with vast amounts of information. A 24-hour news cycle and thousands of global television and radio networks, coupled with an immense array of online resources, have challenged our long-held perceptions of information management. Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decisionmaking."

This week's events and news articles about our grantees highlight "the need for all Americans to be adept in the skills necessary to effectively navigate the Information Age."

Journalism Program Events
McCormick co-sponsored the UC Berkeley Media Technology Summit , an invitation-only conference presented by the Graduate School of Journalism and Haas School of Business. Senior media and technology executives seeking to identify future strategies for their businesses met at Google’s headquarters campus in Mountain View, Calif.  The conference blended insights into the technologies, consumer behavior and advertising systems that affect media businesses with the enduring values of journalism.

Grantees in The News
The News Literacy Project, one of our key partners in  news literacy curriculum produced a new video, “Students As Teachers,” showcasing the work of students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.  In collaboration with LISC later this month, the News Literacy Project will begin introducing its curriculum into middle schools in Chicago with a MF grant.

Tuning In
McCormick staff attended "Climate Change Policy and Low-Income Communities: Minimizing the Pain, Maximizing the Gain," sponsored by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Rebecca Stanfield, senior energy advocate of the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council discussed the principles of the cap-and-trade program. The Center for Investigative Reporting, will use a MF grant to focus on complex cap and trade market and its effects of climate change policy.

Read the full story

“The Military and the Media: Where Do We Go From Here?”

Friday, October 02, 2009

On September 23rd and 24th, the McCormick Foundation hosted its 10th annual conference on the state of military-media relations at Cantigny, the home of late foundation benefactor and former Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick. 

This year’s conference, entitled “The Military and the Media: Where Do We Go From Here?” drew representatives from print, broadcast and digital media as well as flag-rank military officers in both public affairs and operations from all branches of service.  The discussions covered topics such as the importance of foreign media in communicating the U.S. mission to Arab audiences, the economy’s impact on the coverage of war by traditional news media outlets, and the emergence of new and “social” media (such as blogs) as destination sites for those seeking information.

A report from the conference will be completed and released in early 2010. 

Read the full story