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EIU Department of Journalism

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SCJ inducts new members at EIU

February 2013


Twenty-five members of the Society for Collegiate Journalists were inducted Dec. 3, in the Arcola/Tuscola Room of the MLK Union. Front row: Katherine Smith, Miranda Ploss, Ke’Ana Troutman, Jaida Moore, Lauren Turner, Natalie Fedder, Stephanie Markham, Zach White. Second row: Lauren Thomas, Amanda Wilkinson, Kelly Johnson, Katie Ifft, Dominic Renzetti, Jaime Lopez, Dion McNeal, Chacour Koop, Tim Deters. Third row: John Downen, Alex Hill, Dominic Baima, Jordon Pottorff, Bobby Galuski, Tim McHugh, Sean Copeland, Bryce Ricketts. Not pictured: Olivia Diggs, Al Warpinski.



New SCJ officers are, left to right, Sean Copeland, vice president; Brandyce Gordon, treasurer; Rachel Rodgers, president; Ashley Holstrom, events coordinator; Dominic Baima, secretary.


EIU students attend ACP/CMA conference,

Warbler, DEN win awards

November 2012

by Ava Nozicka

Twelve members of the DEN and the Warbler got the chance to mingle with fellow students, advisors and professionals at the 91st annual American Collegiate Press/ College Media Association convention in Chicago.

The convention was Nov. 1-3, and consisted of daily sessions that took place at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers on Columbus Street in Chicago.

Students had the opportunity to attend various sessions covering a wide range of topics, including advertising, yearbook, daily paper, marketing, online journals, and design.

“There are specific sessions for yearbook and for various aspects of newspaper whether it’s photography or design, but there are also general sessions for collegiate journalism,” Sally Renaud, advisor for the Warbler, said.

The conference also had critique sessions that allowed both organizations to have their publications critiqued by journalism teachers from other schools.

“I think any time you can meet with other collegiate journalists who do what you’re doing, I think any time you can talk to professionals, any time you can hear about how you can do your job better, you should go,” Renaud said.

According to the DEN, the Warbler won first place for the yearbook fewer than 300 pages category in the Associated Collegiate Press’ Best of Show.

This is the second year in a row that the Warbler has taken first place in Best of Show.

The Warbler was also a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press’ Pacemaker award, which is one of the most prestigious awards in student journalism.

“The Pacemaker award is one of the top awards given in both high school and college journalism, for overall excellence,” Renaud said.

Shea Lazansky, journalism major and photo editor for the Warbler, said she learned the importance of understanding environment for photos and learned the best way to create eye-catching photos.

“I went my freshman year as a new member and I went this year as photo editor so that I can learn the best way to manage my staff,” Lazansky said.

The DEN won third place in Best in Show for the four-year daily tabloid category.

Lola Burnham, advisor for the DEN, said the award was for the Associate Collegiate Press, a contest that is run on site where you take a newspaper and enter that specific issue.

“If they (students) are an editor for the DEN or the Warbler, this is just a way to hear from other people about trends in the field,” Burnham said.

Junior journalism major and DEN News Editor Rachel Rodgers said she wanted to acquire more knowledge to bring back to her staff and improve the quality of the DEN.

“I went to the CMA conference last year,” Rodgers said. “It’s a chance for the DEN and Warbler to get national recognition and also gives us a chance to interact with people from other newspapers.”

Rodgers also said the conference helps reinforce how being a daily newspaper is prestigious.

“”In this field, there’s always something to learn and the conference helps us improve and also shows us how well we’re doing,” Rodgers said. “We can learn and also showcase our own talents.”



Medcitynews CEO (and EIU journalism alum)
talks about journalism and how it's changed

October 2012

By Leon Fields

“When I left (EIU) I dreamed of being the Washington correspondent for a major daily or running one of those papers. Things just changed so much,” said Chris Seper, CEO of Medcitynews.

Chris SeperSeper, an EIU journalism graduate, leads one of the fastest-growing sites in healthcare and life sciences. The site explains its mission as offering “insight into what’s next and what matters with a mix of breaking news and analysis on startups and established industry leaders, personalities, policies and the most important deals.”

Seper attended Eastern Illinois University from 1991 to 1995 and was a double major in journalism and political science. He earned a master’s degree in political science in 1997.

Seper’s bio on medcity notes that he “drives the culture, oversees business and editorial directions, and manages the governance of the company.” He said when he began college, being the CEO of his own website was his dream job.

The EIU grad said he always had a passion for writing, which is why he became a journalism major - he wanted to work or run a newspaper company. “I was having a talk once with the editor in chief of The Plain Dealer. The chief said, ‘I understand you want to run this newspaper,’” Seper said. “No, I want to run whatever this becomes. That's when I knew things had changed for me.”

Before starting his website, Seper said that he needed financing. For a year he raised money from investors, landed a $30,000 grant and secured advertising from local companies. Seper and Medcity were recentlyfeatured on Newstex.

Seper, who had been online medical editor at The Plain Dealer, said he saw sites like TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Politico, GigaOm and others, and there was nothing like that in healthcare. “Here is where I figured out that everything is going digital and becoming an ‘online folk’ can lead to great things. This gave me the idea for Medcitynews.”

He said Eastern was the foundation for his new venture. “I credit classes like the media management class and comm law, plus the real-world atmosphere of the Daily Eastern News in making sure I understand every aspect of media and put me ahead when it came to the higher-level decision-making it would take to manage a change media world,” he said. “When I left college it was all print - the web came a few years later. But the lessons from EIU carried me through.”

Seper now enjoys life in Cleveland, Ohio, where Medcitynews is located. He also sits on the board of directors of The Civic Commons, a website where active citizens discuss current topics and civic engagement.

“People will tell you this is a hard time for media. And it is in terms of the change that's going on,” Seper said. “But, really, this is the greatest time to be in journalism. You can join a traditional pub or you can start your own. You need passion and to remember you're doing a 'job' for the people you're writing for. It can take you a long way.”


Chuck Burke named Alumnus of the Year

October 2012

Chuck Burke, senior editor/designer and chief typographer at the Chicago Tribune, has been named 2012 Alumnus of the Year by the Eastern Illinois University journalism department.

Chuck BurkeBurke, a 1998 EIU journalism graduate, will be honored at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12 during homecoming weekend.

Before joining the Tribune, Burke worked in California at the San Jose Mercury News, in Northwest Indiana at The Times and in Chicago’s south suburbs at Star Newspapers, a predecessor of the Southtown Star. He was editor-in-chief of The Daily Eastern News for fall semester 1998.

According to James Tidwell, chair of the EIU journalism department, recipients of the alumni award must:

• be a graduate of EIU with a journalism major or with significant media experience during their collegiate days;

• have attained professional experience and a positive reputation in the field;

• have continued to support the journalism department or student media programs following graduation.

“Without question Chuck Burke meets all the criteria,” Tidwell said. He has a national reputation in newspaper design circles and has a leadership role in the design, editing and presentation of the Tribune.

Tidwell also said Burke has returned to campus many times to speak to classes and student groups. “In spring 2011 he hosted a half-day workshop in the Tribune newsroom for our Advanced Publication Design class,” Tidwell said. “The students absolutely loved the experience. We really appreciate Chuck’s willingness to share his expertise with our students.”

Sally Renaud, chair of the department’s Outreach Committee, said Burke’s commitment to his profession and to sharing it with high school and college-age students has been exceptional. “He represents our department and our field so well,” she said. “From presenting sessions at high school conferences throughout the state to talks to Eastern’s Student Publications staffs, Chuck has been the perfect ambassador for our department and for journalism.”


IPA/EIU set high school journalism
workshop for June 2013

October 2012

Program Description The Illinois Press Foundation/Eastern Illinois University High School Journalism
Workshop is a two-week residential program that provides students an intimate look at journalism as a career.

The goal is to promote the journalism profession – and newspaper newsrooms – by sparking students' interest early. The workshop introduces students to the complete process of publishing newspapers: gathering information, writing news, editing it, designing and producing newspapers. Participants will produce three newspapers during the course of the workshop.

Instruction The first week is devoted to instruction and related exercises, including news-gathering field trips. Professional journalists provide most of the instruction. Dozens of reporters, editors, publishers, photographers and other journalists have taught in the program since 1993, representing more than 30 newspapers and news organizations throughout Illinois and from nearby states, including the Belleville News-Democrat, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Herald-News of Joliet, Citizen Newspapers of Chicago, Jet Magazine, National Public Radio, The Associated Press, Peoria Journal-Star, The News-Gazette in Champaign, the Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Journal-Gazette, Indianapolis Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights). The week culminates in the production of a weekly newspaper.

Internship In the second week, students intern in pairs at several newspapers. Sites typically include the
Herald & Review (Decatur), The News-Gazette (Champaign), The State Journal-Register (Springfield), The
Daily News (Robinson), The (Charleston) Times-Courier & (Mattoon) Journal-Gazette, and The Pantagraph
(Bloomington). For three days, students are driven to participating papers, where they work with reporters and other journalists on assignments. These have ranged from coverage of murder trials to interviewing the
governor to exploring county fairs. The remainder of the second week is devoted to production of two daily

Field trips For entertainment as well as instruction, students will participate in several other field trips.
Students attend several events that they will also cover, such as a professional theater production at the Little Theatre and a County Commission meeting. Students have also regularly toured the Ernie Pyle Museum, hiked through Turkey Run State Park and toured the Lincoln Log Cabin, once a working farm for Abraham Lincoln’s parents. Past trips have included tours of Lender's Bagels Bakery in Mattoon (said to be the largest bagel bakery in the world), The Oakland Noodle Co. (where students interviewed the owners), Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital (where students interviewed medical professionals), Coles County Courthouse (to meet judges and county officials), an Amish community, the Embarras River (for a canoe trip), and Lake Shelbyville (to go swimming).

Funding The bulk of funds is provided by the Illinois Press Foundation. The Dow Jones News Fund and the
McCormick Foundation are also significant contributors to the program. All expenses (including housing, meals and tuition, as well as transportation to the conference if needed) are paid from these funds.
Application requirements To be considered, students must complete an application form, which is
available from the Journalism Department, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Ave., Charleston, IL 61920.
Other requirements are (1) completion of the sophomore year in high school by the beginning of the workshop, (2) a 500-word essay by the student describing his/her career goals and how the workshop would help the student achieve those goals; (3) submission of three samples of the student's writing, preferably published nonfiction or graded exercises; (4) two letters of recommendation from the student's teachers/advisers. Final application deadline is May 1, but entries will be judged and internship slots may be filled earlier, depending on the quality of applications.

Need more information? Call Dr. Sally Renaud, workshop director, 2012 IPF/EIU High School Journalism
Workshop, phone at 217.581.6003, fax to 217.581.7188 or e-mail to

Download a pdf application here

IPA/EIU journalism camp wins AEJMC Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award

June 2012

A two-week residential journalism camp at Eastern Illinois University is this year’s recipient of the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award sponsored by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Illinois Press Foundation/Eastern Illinois University High School Journalism Workshop has been introducing young people to the world of journalism for 20 years and has served more than 350 students. The workshop has been chosen to receive the Knight award for its dedication to providing an authentic journalism experience for a diverse population as well as for its longevity.

The award will be presented Aug. 10 at AEJMC’s national conference in Chicago.

Nominated by its current director, Sally Renaud, associate professor of journalism at EIU, the two-week Dow Jones Newspaper Fund workshop was founded in 1993 by Eastern Illinois journalism faculty members Dave Reed, Minabere Ibelema and Glenn Robinson. Reed, now retired, was the director until 2004, and Joe Gisondi, associate professor of journalism, directed until 2007. Financial support for the workshop comes from the Illinois Press Foundation, the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, the McCormick Foundation and the newspapers where the students intern.

Reed’s concept was that working journalists should do all the teaching because he believed students would understand what journalism is all about if they personally get to know the professionals in such a personal way.

Those journalists — many who come back every year — have included Lisa Green, business editor at the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind, who has been with the workshop since the very beginning, and Ted Gregory, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who works with students on how to write in-depth stories.

“For two weeks dozens of professional journalists shepherd students through the work they do and love, and it rubs off on these 18 young people,” Renaud said.

Students get to tour the state Capitol with reporters who cover the state Legislature. They also spend time with staff from a live daily newscast from Eastern Illinois. Since Eastern has its own printing press, students also get to see the printing process in action.

In recent years, each workshop has published three newspapers and a multimedia package, and students get a chance to intern at a variety of professional newspapers.

“When these students see their creations coming off the press, when they practice what they have learned at their internships, they know their work has paid off, and their smiles and celebrations are justified. They have learned what all of us know: Journalism is exciting and rewarding,” Renaud said.

And Sierra Lowe, a 2011 workshop participant, backed that sentiment up.

“My two-week stay at Eastern was definitely an eye opening experience,” Lowe said. “It made me respect journalists even more so. It's a field that is evolving and this generation of journalists has such an opportunity to make sure it doesn't go overlooked and gets the respect it deserves.”

Lowe added the workshop was a reality check for her.

“It's not solely about getting my opinion out there, or controversy or even the awesome moment of seeing your byline in a paper, but it's about working together with a group to get the best overall product to inform and entertain the masses,” Lowe said.

Renaud said workshop staff members are always proud of the students and what they produce during the two weeks on campus.

“They knew nothing about journalism when they came to us, and now they have been journalists,” she said.

Sierra Lowe summed up her journalism adventure at Eastern Illinois this way:

“It was a great experience. I think about it and the people I met there all the time.”

This is the 25th anniversary of the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award, which is sponsored by the AEJMC Scholastic Journalism Division. The award recognizes any individual or organization that has made significant contributions to promoting diversity in high school or middle school media programs and is named after Robert P. Knight, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, who served as director of the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association from 1965 to 1992.


ACEJMC team recommends department reaccreditation

October 2011

A four-person on-site evaluation team representing the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication has recommended that the EIU Journalism Department be reaccredited.

During the campus visit Oct. 9-12, the evaluation team inspected facilities and equipment, visited classes, met with faculty members, students, administrators and representatives from other university departments.

In preparation for the visit, journalism faculty members prepared a comprehensive self-study sent to each member of the evaluation team, according to James Tidwell, chair of the department.

The self-study and the evaluation team’s work centers around nine standards: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; full-time and part-time faculty; scholarship: research, creative and professional activity; student services; resources, facilities and equipment; professional and public service; and assessment of learning outcomes.

The team found the department in compliance with all nine standards.

The report now goes to the ACEJMC Accrediting Committee when it meets April 17-18 in Chicago. Final approval rests with the full council when it meets April 27-28 in Washington, D.C.

Tidwell said the process takes place every six years. The EIU program was first accredited in 1982 and reaccredited in 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006. ACEJMC currently accredits 111 programs in journalism and mass communications.

The site team’s report praised the faculty members for significantly increasing their level of research/creative activity since the last accrediting visit in 2005, according to Tidwell. He said the report noted several other strengths of the program:

• “Students, faculty and others on campus all praise the warm and close relationships between faculty and students and the way that relationship enhances learning.”

• Assessment practices are firmly established, and the faculty uses the assessment results to change and improve classes and the overall program.”

• “The unit does an admirable amount of service work, including its support of scholastic journalism throughout the state of Illinois and the nation.”

• “Students have many opportunities for working on award-winning campus media.”

• “Facilities are better than those at many larger schools. The campus continues to invest technology resources in the unit.”

ACEJMC is made up academics from a number of educational organizations, along with members representing such groups as the American Society of News Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, the Radio-Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Public Relations Society of American and the American Advertising Federation.

Ann Brill, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, was chair of the EIU site team. Other members were Phillip Jeter, chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, Charlyne Berens, associate dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Merrill Rose, an independent communications consultant in New York City.


Dann Gire named 'Alumnus of the Year'

Dann Gire pictured on the cover of the Daily Herald's entertainment section.Photo courtesy The Daily Herald

October 2011

Dann Gire, long-time film critic for the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Ill., will be honored Friday, Oct. 21, as the 2011 Journalism Department Alumnus of the Year.

“Dann has established himself as one of the premier journalists in the Midwest and has been a great supporter of our program over the years,” stated department chair James Tidwell. “Any time we call on him to speak at an event on campus or in other parts of the state, Dann always says ‘yes.’ He’s a heck of a speaker and a great film critic.”

Gire is a featured speaker each year at the Embarras Valley Film Festival sponsored by EIU. Gire will be honored at a noon luncheon Oct. 21. Tidwell said Gire also will be a guest speaker in several journalism classes the day before.

Tidwell noted that although Gire graduated from EIU before a journalism major was established in 1975, “We’ve always thought of him as one of our own” because of his extensive experience with the school’s newspaper The Daily Eastern News. He served as sports editor, photography editor and co-editor-in-chief of theNews.

Recipients of the alumni award must be a graduate of EIU with a journalism major or with significant student media experience during his or her collegiate days, Tidwell said.

Madeleine Doubek, executive editor of the Daily Herald and a 1985 EIU journalism graduate, said Gire, despite being a “bigwig” movie critic, began filling in on a general assignment weekend rotation a few years ago when the paper started facing staffing challenges. “He covers breaking news and crime with gusto,” she explained. “Not many bigwigs would do the same. He’s a gem I’ve been honored to know.”

Retired journalism professor John David Reed said Gire was one of the first students he met when he came to Eastern in August 1972 as adviser to the Eastern News.

“He was a scrawny, wiry—and wired—shooter (photographer),” explained Reed. “And he learned all the great newspaper photographer habits—super work ethic, ceaseless nose for news, creativity in pursuit of same, absolute dedication to the task, perfect understanding of the most basic rule of newsgathering: You have to be there. Those qualities have served him well during a commendable career as a journalist, of course.”

Reed said he was not surprised that Gire would distinguish himself as an outstanding writer and eminent critic of film.“I watched him bug his editors about running his movie reviews, immerse himself in the art through such venues as the Eastern Film Society. And he excelled, right there in The Daily Eastern News.”

After graduating from Eastern with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech communication, Gire joined theDaily Herald in 1975 and has held positions of government reporter, crime reporter, metro reporter (assigned to the Cook County Criminal Courts), and film critic on the features staff. He has served as the newspaper’s film critic for 33 years.

In addition to his full-time work as a journalist, Gire teaches journalism at Aurora College. He previously taught journalism and advised the student newspaper at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Ill. “What pleases me most about Dann is his dedication through his adjunct teaching to the concept of service to others, of passing it forward, that lies at the heart of journalism,” explained Reed. “As this alumni award attests, Dann has earned a hearty KUDOS from all of us who care about the profession.”

Gire has won the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in Arts Criticism seven times. He has also won awards from the Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, The Associated Press, and other journalism organizations.

He is the president and a founding director for the Chicago Film Critics Association, a nonprofit organization with charitable and educational goals. He wrote the organization’s ethics code and founded the group’s Zappa Committee charged with monitoring First Amendment violations against filmmakers and recommending responses to those violations. He is also on staff as a contributing critic for Ebert Presents At the Movies on PBS.

Gire worked as film critic at Chicago’s Fox TV News from 1988 to 1991, and for four weeks this summer contributed film critiques for CBS Chicago’s “Monsters and Money in the Morning” TV news program.

He is married to Peggy Gire, a longtime music teacher in Schaumburg (Ill.) District 54. They have two daughters: Lauren Elaine Taylor, currently on tour as Rizzo in the national Broadway production of “Grease,” and Morgan Gire, who recently served as assistant director for the independent film production “Molly’s Girl.”


Journalism graduate focuses online
during visit to EIU classes

David Putney
David Putney gives the keynote address at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association Conference at EIU Sept. 22.

September 2011

The Journalism Department’s latest visiting professional spoke to several classes and met with staffs of the Warbler and The Daily Eastern News during his time on campus Sept. 20-22.

The visit by David Putney, senior web producer for PilotOnline, the website for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., was funded through the Fox-Thornburgh Visiting Professionals Program established in 2007 by 1971 EIU graduate Richard Fox, a retired hospital public relations and marketing director, to honor Dr. Daniel Thornburgh, the founding chairman of the department who died in 2011. Putney is the 12th journalist/public relations practitioner to visit campus since the program started in 2007.

Putney, a 1995 EIU journalism graduate and Peoria native, concluded his visit to campus Thursday evening, Sept. 22 by giving the keynote address to the Illinois Community College Journalism Association Conference hosted by the Journalism Department. Eighty-five community college journalists and their advisers from 13 schools attended the two-day conference Sept. 22-23.

Putney describes his job as “a jack-of-all-trades position.” He handles content, takes rewrites, plans coverage, designs and programs and works with reporting and editing teams.

Before taking his present position, he worked at The Pilot as a designer before founding Link, a daily publicationby The Pilot aimed at young readers.Putney previously worked as a copy editor/designerat theHerald Palladium, St. Joseph, Mich.; Sun Publications,Naperville, Ill.; and The Virgin Islands Daily News, Charlotte Amalie, USVI.

While a student at EIU Putney worked at The Daily Eastern News as news editor, opinion page editor andVerge editor, among other roles. Before transferring toEastern, Putney received an associate’s degree at Illinois Central College where he served as editor of the student newspaper.

CMA honors department chair,
DEN adviser at annual convention

October 2011

Two Eastern Illinois University journalism professors will be honored at the 90thAnnual National College Media Convention in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 26-30.

James Tidwell, chair of the department, will be inducted into the College Media Advisers Hall of Fame, and Lola Burnham, editorial adviser to The Daily Eastern News, will receive a four-year college newspaper Honor Roll Adviser Award from the organization.

The Honor Roll award is presented to a CMA member who has fewer than fives years’ experience in college media advising and has provided distinguished service to his or her students and profession.

Burnham, an assistant professor of journalism, has been the editorial adviser to The Daily Eastern News since fall 2008.

One nomination letter stated that Burnham deserved the award “because of her work with CMA, her strong advising and her commitment to college media development in the state.” The letter also noted, “As an adviser, Lola practices her duties using the CMA Code of Ethics. She critiques the paper after it comes out, and she works with the staff to provide training, leadership and mentorship.”

CMA Hall of Fame inductees must have contributed to college journalism education for 20 years or more while being active members of CMA. The award recognizes longtime members who have contributed to the betterment and value of student media programs of both the campus and nation. It also pays tribute to members who have devoted extensive service to CMA by serving in leadership roles and presenting programs and sessions at conventions.

Tidwell, a CMA member since 1975, served as student newspaper adviser at Tulsa (Okla.) Junior College and Indiana University Southeast before joining the EIU faculty in January 1987 where he serves as legal adviser to student media.

He has presented well over 100 legal sessions at college media conventions and workshops and has served as chair of the CMA Weekly Newspaper Committee, the Research Committee and the Media Law Committee.

“If ever there was a stalwart of CMA, Tidwell would be that person,” wrote Mark Witherspoon of Iowa State University in his nomination letter. “He has been steadfast in his support of CMA for decades, and he has shown his support in so many ways.

“He has been a mentor and confidant to many advisers throughout the years, and I am grateful to be included in that group of advisers. Every time I call on him with questions, usually legal in nature, he always provides me with thoughtful and helpful answers in a timely manner.”

Another nominator, Mark Goodman former director of the Student Press Law Center now at Kent State University, noted that he has known Tidwell since 1985. “James was then and remains today a tireless supporter of college and high school journalism and defender of media advisers in need.”

Continued Goodman: “I couldn’t begin to count how many sessions he has given at CMA conventions over the years, but my guess is that he may well have broken some organization record. And not only were his sessions numerous, they were uniformly substantive and useful.

“I recall dozens of (legal) sessions that James and I presented together where his advice was accurate, practical and often funny. One of the things I like best about James is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. The First Amendment, on the other hand, he is passionate about, and his work with CMA has always reflected that.”

Tidwell has previously won two other awards from CMA. He was awarded the Louis E. Ingelhart First Amendment Award in 1998 for extraordinary, long-term contributions in support of the First Amendment, and the Reid H. Montgomery Distinguished Service Award in 2010 given to a person, corporation or institution for extraordinary contributions to journalism or student media advising.

Three other past and present EIU journalism faculty members have been inducted into the CMA Hall of Fame: retired professor David Reed (1996), and current professors Les Hyder (1997) and John Ryan (2008).

BurnhamLola Burnham


James Tidwell

Journalism Department seeks reaccreditation
from ACEJMC; first accredited in 1982

October 2011

The Journalism Department will host four representatives from the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) Oct. 9-12 as it seeks national reaccreditation.

In preparation for the visit, journalism faculty members prepared a comprehensive self-study that has been sent to each member of the evaluation team, according to James Tidwell, chair of the department. He said the process takes place every six years. The EIU program was first accredited in 1982 and reaccredited in 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006. ACEJMC currently accredits 111 programs in journalism and mass communications.

While on campus, the site team members will inspect facilities and equipment, visit classes, meet with faculty members, students, administrators and representatives from other university departments. They will present their report and recommendations to EIU President William Perry on the last day of their visit. The site team report will then be considered by the ACEJMC Accrediting Committee at its meeting in Chicago in March. The entire council will make the final decision when it meets in Washington, D.C., in April.

The council, along with its accrediting committee, is made up academics from a number of educational organizations, along with members representing such groups as the American Society of News Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, the Radio-Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Public Relations Society of American and the American Advertising Federation.

“We think national accreditation is very important,” explained Tidwell. “It demonstrates that we meet strict standards for journalism education established by knowledgeable academics and media and public relations professionals. It makes it easier to sell our program to potential students and their parents and to promote our students with potential employers.”

Tidwell said the accreditation process focuses on nine standards established by ACEJMC: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; full-time and part-time/adjunct faculty; scholarship: research, creative and professional activity; student services: resources, facilities and equipment; professional and public service; and assessment of learning outcomes

Ann Brill, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, is the chair of the EIU site team. Other members are Phillip Jeter, chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, Charlyne Berens, associate dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Merrill Rose, an independent communications consultant in New York City.



Journalism professors, major featured on EIU website

August 2011

Journalism faculty and students are featured this fall on the EIU website.

Journalism major Dave Balson and Dr. Eunseong Kim, assistant professor of journalism, are

highlighted in stories about research at EIU. Balson presented his work, The Voices That Heat the Kettle: Racist Views Promoted by the Tea Party Movement's Favorite Media Figures, a study of racism within the increasingly popular Tea Party movement, at a national conference in New York. He did the research for his Race, Gender, and Media course, taught by Dr. Kim. See the story here

Dr. Janice Collins, assistant professor of journalism, is highlighted on the university's faculty development page. She is one of several EIU faculty who "exemplify the love of teaching found among the faculty as a whole." Dr. Collins, a multi-Emmy award winner, teaches broadcast writing, editing and producing. See the story here

EIU journalism professor Brian Poulter
earns AEJMC teaching scholarship

August 2011

Poulter’s exciting hands-on work last summer has won him the 2011 Scholarship of Application award given by the Small Programs Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The Scholarship of Application competition is designed to showcase work that journalism, advertising and public relations professors do outside of the classroom that enhance their teaching.Poulter

This particularly multi-media odyssey began June 1 in Charleston, Ill., and took Poulter into the Yukon Territoryand past the Arctic Circle on some of the roughest roads on the continent. Readers of the Decatur (Ill.) Herald-Review could follow along; so many did that Poulter’s stories consistently had the highest readership on the newspaper’s web site.

You can catch up on Poulter’s journey, and learn from his experience by checking out the archived stories and photos at

Poulter has been teaching photojournalism and related courses at EIU in Charleston, Ill., since 1992. He’s now using his unedited photos from the trip in his classes.

“I ask students to solve the same technical, journalistic and aesthetic problems I had to face in the field, under the same ultra tight deadlines I faced in the field,” Poulter said.

Poulter will discuss his work at an Aug. 9 pre-conference session at the AEJMC St. Louis conference on ways that SPIG can help faculty document excellent teaching and research.

Poulter’s next project – a motorcycle trip along the historic Oregon Trail while learning, shooting and editing with new video technology.


Bilbrey, Lair honored as "Journalists of the Year"
at student media/dept. banquet


April 2011

The editor of the Robinson Daily News and the outgoing editor of the Charleston-Mattoon Journal Gazette/Times-Courier were named Journalists of the Year by the Eastern Illinois University Journalism Department.

Greg Bilbrey, who has been editor of the Robinson newspaper for the past 10 years, and Bill Lair, who has led the Charleston-Mattoon newspapers for the past 30 years, were honored Friday, April 29, at the 52ndannual Journalism/Student Media Banquet at the Grand Ballroom of the University Union on the EIU campus, Charleston.

Bill Lair
Bill Lair

“Both of these editors have served their communities well as leaders of their respective newspapers and they devoted their lives to keeping their fellow citizens well informed,” said James Tidwell, chairman of the Journalism Department. “They represent the best of community journalism.”

The journalism faculty selected the two veteran editors for induction into the Journalism Department’s Hall of Fame for making an outstanding contribution to the field of journalism in the Eastern Illinois University service region.

“Greg Bilbrey has frequently volunteered to assist the journalism department, serving as a guest faculty member at high school summer workshops, judging contests and volunteering as an assistant to the adviser to the student newspaper at Casey-Westfield High School,” said John Ryan, chair of the Journalism Department’s Outreach and Service Committee, which makes the selection.

“Bill Lair has been a longtime friend of the journalism department. He’s taught classes in our program, spoken at workshops and hired scores of Eastern graduates, giving many of them their start in the news business,” Ryan said.

Greg Bilbrey

Bilbrey is a Western Kentucky University graduate. Before joining the Daily News in 2001, he was news editor at the Clark County Publishing Co. for nearly 14 years. In addition to being a guest faculty member at the EIU/Illinois Press Foundation Summer Journalism Workshop, he often presents at Indiana State University, leads seminars on demand for the Illinois Press Association and assists the adviser at the Casey-Westfield student newspaper.

Married for 25 years, Bilbrey and his wife, Noni, are the parents of one son, Will.

Lair is a 1970 Eastern graduate. He recently retired from the JG/T-C after working at the newspaper for more than 38 years. He rose through the ranks from sports editor, to news reporter/copy editor, to managing editor of the Times-Courier and then managing editor of both newspapers.

He will be named a Master Editor of the Southern Illinois Editorial Association on April 29. He’s won numerous awards for his work, he’s served on numerous civic committees and he has taught at both Eastern and Lake Land Community College.

Married for 41 years, Lair and his wife, Cheryl, are the parents of sons, David and Patrick, and daughter, Heather.

Past Journalists of the Year include:

•2010: Greg Bilbrey, editor, Robinson Daily News, and Bill Lair, managing editor, Mattoon Journal Gazette/Charleston Times-Courier.

•2009: Ray Long, Springfield bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, and Dave McKinney, Springfield bureau chief, Chicago Sun-Times.

• 2008: Madeleine Doubek, managing editor, The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights

• 2007: Jeff Nelson, retired managing editor, Lincoln (Ill.) Courier

• 2006: Cam Simpson, formerly with the Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal, is now a reporter with Bloomberg News Service.

• 2004: John Foreman, editor and publisher, News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana

• 2003: Les Brownlee, long-time Chicago newspaper and broadcast journalist

• 2002: David Shaul, former news director, WCIA (Channel 3) in Champaign

• 2001: William Hamel, retired publisher, Times-Courier and Journal Gazette, Charleston-Mattoon

Ray Long
Chicago Tribune state house reporter Ray Long discusses computer assisted reporting techniques with EIU journalism students on the EIU campus Saturday, March 26, 2010. Long is an EIU alumnus. John O'Connor of the Associated Press also presented information during the four-hour session. Photo/Brian Poulter
Chicago Tribune trip
EIU journalism students traveled to Chicago April 11 and 12 to meet with designers at the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago. Above, alumnus Chuck Burke, right, talks to (l-r)Emily Steele, Kristin Jording (hidden) and Colleen Harrigan.


Former DEN editor McDermott tells students

about legislative coverage


By Nicole Conness

After graduating from Eastern in 1987 and being editor of the Daily Eastern News, Kevin McDermott went on to cover two governors’ corruption trials and an Illinois senator now known as the president of the United States.

McDermott, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has been working in the Illinois bureau of the paper for 16 years. He spoke to several journalism classes at EIU on Feb. 21 at the invitation of friend and journalism instructor Dan Hagen.

Starting from the micro-level of covering police, city council and school board meetings, McDermott said it was a good training ground for covering legislative hearings at the Capitol in Illinois and political campaigns throughout United States.

He said it is important to incorporate all fundamental aspects of an issue or piece of legislation because most people do not have access to legislative hearings.

With more than 100 miles between him and his editors, McDermott said he has the freedom to choose what he writes about. While working with several editors, he informs them of what he is working on and what to expect at his 5 p.m. deadline. In addition, he often confers with the editorial page team at the paper to offer perspective on issues.

Although political and government reporting has made McDermott more cynical of government, his reporting has significant relevance on people’s lives that generates opinions throughout Missouri and Illinois.

Even when the state legislature is not in session, the political beat continues. Enterprise reporting on political contributions, corruption trials on former Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich and state spending takes precedence in the newsroom.

When McDermott is not writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he freelances for the University of Illinois political magazine. He enjoys writing for the magazine because it allows him to go more in depth on political issues.



Arizona Daily Star

Rashida Lyles-Cowan and Bradley Merkle study the Arizona Daily Star's front page coverage of the tragic shooting in Tucson. Journalism majors Lyles-Cowan, a senior, and Merkle, a sophomore, participated in a conference call Jan. 19, 2011, between former Daily Eastern News designer Mike Rice, who leads a visual team for graphics and design at the Daily Star, and a copy editing class at EIU. Photo by Jasmine Randle

EIU alum Mike Rice talks to J-students about
Arizona Daily Star coverage of shooting

By Elizabeth Edwards

“The story of the Tucson shooting is never going to end for us,” said Mike Rice, visual team leader of the Arizona Daily Star.

The Tucson shooting, where six people were killed and 13 wounded, including a U.S. representative, will live in infamy for the Tuscon community of 541,811 residents.

Rice, 1995 Eastern graduate who was a designer at the Daily Eastern News, talked to a copy editing class via conference call Jan. 19, about the newspaper’s obligation to “mirror the Tucson community.”

“The Arizona Daily Star was conscious of its audience when deciding what picture and story to cover,” Rice said.

His newspaper understands that residents of Tucson were emotional about the shooting and his newspaper staff took their raw emotions into consideration.

For example, the newspaper ran only a small shot of the suspected shooter, Jared Loughner, on the front page in respect for the community.

“The community would not want to see a big mug shot of the shooter while they eat their Cheerios in the morning,” Rice said.

Rice said that his newspaper is the “daily record” of the Tucson community and must always keep its audience in mind.



SCJ induction, Dec. 2010

SCJ inductees are: back, left to right, Doug Graham, Ellie Sternaman, Sam Wilmes, Seth Schroeder, Allison Twaits, Crystal Alston, Melissa Sturtevant, Sara Hill; front row, Dave Balson, Rachel Rodgers, Kelsey Karstrand, Cyndi Francois, Kim Foster, Ashley Holstrom, Beth Steele and Julia Carlucci.


Society of Collegiate Journalists inducts new members

EIU students were inducted into the Society of Collegiate Journalists on Dec. 7, 2010, in ceremonies in the 1895 Room at the MLK Jr. Student Union.



Students research to be presented in New York

January 2011

Six students from the fall 2010 journalism class “Race, Gender and the Media” have had research papers accepted for presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research March 30-April 2 in Ithaca, N.Y.

Dr. Eunseong Kim, assistant professor of journalism, taught the class and was the mentor for the research projects. The Honors College will pay the expenses of the students to attend the conference.

“This is an unbelievable accomplishment for Dr. Kim and her students,” said department chair James Tidwell. “Having six papers from the same class accepted for this national conference is a rare occurrence. We’re thrilled that the EIU Journalism Department can be a university leader in promoting undergraduate research.”

The authors and titles of the papers accepted:

• Allison Twaits: “Ruling the Pages: How Do Men’s and Women’s Magazines Deliver Messages to Their Audiences”

• David Balson: “The Voices That Heat the Kettle: Racist Views Promoted by the Tea Party Movement’s Favorite Media Figures”

• Desiree Morris: “Giving Voices to the Voiceless: Are Women and Racial Minorities Represented in News Stories?”

• Jaime Hofmann: “Portrayals of Homosexuals in Television Sitcoms”

• LaMar Holliday: “The ‘Race’ for Newsroom Diversity: An Investigation of Broadcast Newsrooms in Indiana”

• Shauna Laudant: “Addressing Women’s Health Issues: What and How of Health Information in Women’s Magazines"



WEIU wins Emmy No. 2

October 2010


The daily 30-minute live newscast produced by students at WEIU-TV won a Regional Emmy for best college newscast for the second straight year Oct. 9.

“The second year in a row is great for the facility, but even better for the university,” said Kelly Runyon, news director, whose personal goal is to strive for an Emmy-quality production every night. Runyon is a 1992 EIU journalism graduate.

A dozen students accompanied Runyon to the ceremonies of the Mid- America Regional Emmy Awards for the states of Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois. The University of Missouri was the other finalist in the best college newscast category.

In national competition, John Twork, a 2010 journalism graduate from Bloomington Ill., was presented the second annual Jim Nantz Award as the top collegiate sports broadcaster in the United States. The award, sports broadcasting’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, is presented by Sportscasters Talent Agency of America.

Other finalists for the Jim Nantz Award came from Syracuse, East Tennessee State, Rutgers and Ohio University. “As talented as the inaugural field was last year, this year’s field was deeper which made the selection process even more challenging,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “What John Twork does especially well is put his listeners inside the stadium or arena by not only describing the action, but also the sights, sounds and emotions of the players, coaches and fans. His play-by-play is a story.”

He is now a graduate student at Illinois State University and works in the ISU sports information department.

WEIU-TV/FM, Twork and a number of other broadcasting students won a number of awards in the 2010 Student Silver Dome Awards presented by the Illinois Broadcasters Association Oct. 8 at Illinois State University.

The awards are for content aired during the 2009-10 school year. WEIU News Watch won three first-place awards for best television newscast, best television weathercast and best long form television programming. WEIU-FM won first place for best radio promotion.

Twork won four individual awards: first place for best radio public service announcement; first place for best radio advertising spot, second place for best radio sports story, and third place for best radio live game report. Zach Nugent, a December 2009 journalism graduate, won second place for best television sports package.



Prof. Joe Gisondi's sports' writing text adopted by universities

October 2010

In the six short months following the release of his sports writing textbook, Joe Gisondi, an Eastern journalism professor, has enjoyed recognition from 20 different universities that have already adopted it into their curriculums.

Gisondi’s book, The Field Guide to Covering Sports, includes handouts he has regularly employed in his sports writing classes over the years and will be integrated into the course for the next three semesters.

The publisher of the book is Congressional Quarterly Press. Gisondi said he had not originally intended to publish a book but stumbled into the process after transferring his class handouts to a personal blog, which expanded and attracted readership.

Eventually, his publisher suggested he record his expertise in a textbook that aspiring sports reporters could refer to on the go.

“It is a guide you can put in your backpack and use,” Gisondi said.

The textbook is broken down into three different parts, the first of which addresses getting started and also offers tips and topics, such as writing stories, interviews, developing feature writing and blogging.

Part two provides details on 20 different sports, from the most popular like baseball, basketball and football, to sports that have a less mainstream audience, such as rowing, lacrosse and rugby.

The last part of the book focuses on what Gisondi refers to as “primers,” which focus on sports information directors and how to work with them.

It also explains how to avoid clichés, maintain ethics, broadcast games on the radio and cover fantasy sports.

“(The book) is a must-read for sports journalism students and beginning sports reporters,” states Michelle Kaufman, sports writer for the Miami Herald and adjunct instructor at the University of Miami.

“Newcomers to the trade will get valuable tips on covering a range of sports, interviewing, even blogging.

“And it doesn’t read like a textbook. Instead, it is a collection of anecdotes, real-life examples, and ‘Sports Insider’ advice from well-known sports journalists. Readers of this book will feel like they got personal career guidance from some of the most respected names in the business.”

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