1980s Class Notes

Lisa Keefe (BSJ84, MSJ85)

Lisa Keefe has been promoted to editor-in-chief of Meatingplace, overseeing all its editorial operations including its business wire service, magazine, multimedia and social media efforts, and new product development. Previously she was editor of the magazine.

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Peter Jacobi (BSJ52, MSJ53) – Medill Professor and Associate Dean

Peter Jacobi (BSJ52, MSJ53), former longtime Medill professor and associate dean, died on December 24, 2019. He was 89. Jacobi was a member of the inaugural class of the Medill Hall of Achievement of 1997 and served on the Medill faculty from 1955 to 1981. He joined the journalism faculty at Indiana University in 1985.

Jacobi’s two guidebooks, “The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It, Write It” and “Writing with Style: The News Story and the Feature,” are standard reference sources for journalists. In 2006 Jacobi received the School of Continuing Studies Teaching Excellence Award from Indiana University.

Jacobi was professor emeritus of journalism at Indiana University and a regular reviewer/contributor to The Herald-Times in Bloomington up until his death.

The final installment of his local newspaper column, “Music Beat,” appeared on Dec. 15, 2019 and previewed that afternoon’s Bloomington Chamber Singers’ performance of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah.”

Peter Paul Jacobi was born March 15, 1930, in Berlin and came to the United States at age 8.

Jacobi joined the Medill faculty in 1955, working his way up from a professional lecturer to his position as associate dean. After leaving Medill in 1985, he worked as a consultant before joining the Indiana faculty where the taught until receiving emeritus status in 2017.
Jacobi was a member of the American Association of University Professors, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Society of Professional Journalists, Arts Midwest, the Bloomington Community Arts Commission and the Indiana Arts Commission, where he was chairman from 1990 to 1993.

He is survived by two sons, Keith Jacobi and Wyn Jacobi, and three grandchildren. Jacobi’s wife, Hattie, whom he met more than 70 years ago, died on Sept. 30, 2019.

Faculty remembrances of Peter Jacobi:
Roger Boye, Associate Professor Emeritus-in-Service
Peter Jacobi was a master teacher, a brilliant lecturer, the proverbial “scholar and a gentleman.” Generations of Medill students owe so much to this man.
I once heard him give a lecture in mid summer in an un-airconditioned room with no slides or visual aids to nearly 100 people who listened in rapt attention for 90 minutes. He was that good.
In 1972, he did a piece for Quill magazine on what it means to be a teacher of journalism, still the best article of its kind ever written. Subconsciously, he must have been describing himself when he wrote:
“To be a journalism teacher at college or high school level, one must be alert to life and living, an embracer of imagination, open to suggestion, free and careful with advice, scholarly in one’s approach to constant and persistent learning.

“A teacher who truly teaches is unsparing of time and the expenditure of energy toward students, helpful, encouraging, young in thought and receptivity, gently authoritative, flexible, never satisfied with himself.
“The journalism teacher has learned to practice his profession and continues to practice it; he does not teach from textbooks. He’s thought about journalism’s glories and its flaws. He has the missionary zeal to improve a human activity that he loves.”
Just a few weeks before the 1978 national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the speaker for the awards banquet cancelled, leaving organizers scrambling for a replacement. They asked Peter Jacobi based entirely on his reputation; they had never before heard him speak. And as the big event drew closer, they began second-guessing their decision. But Peter did not let them down. He received a rousing standing ovation from several hundred journalists—the only one of six major speakers during that convention so honored. The Quill magazine ran his speech as its cover story in January 1979.
“In our search for the abnormal, the unusual, the eccentric, the different, don’t just look for those people and happenings that are abnormally bad, usually awful, eccentrically negative, differently evil,” he told the convention. “Look for what and who are abnormally good, unusually useful, abnormally fascinating, differently inspirational. Look for good news, in other words, not just bad. But look for news more than we look for pap.”
He also called on journalists to “love words. Sure, appreciate pictures, film, tape. But love words. As long as we remember the value of words and fight viciously against cheapening them, then we’re likely to treat the press with the kind of respect that defeats abuse. Looking toward tomorrow, abuse abuse. In fact, stamp it out.”

David Nelson, Associate Professor Emeritus
In 1964 I learned to take risks in writing: Peter Jacobi taught that class. In 1968 I learned that in any creative craft it’s OK to make a fool of yourself as you experiment and grow in that effort: Peter Jacobi taught that class. When I learned of his death, I remembered that Prof. Jacobi introduced me to Beethoven. Naturally, I played “Missa Solemnis” in tribute.

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Medill alum goes from journalist to entrepreneur with a set of cookware

By: Kaitlyn Thompson (BSJ11, IMC17)

In 2018, Medill alumna Sierra Tishgart (BSJ12) left her dream job as a food writer and editor at New York Magazine for – cookware.

 About a year ago, Tishgart had what she thought was a simple desire to become a more confident cook. She knew in order to motivate herself to cook more, she first had to replace her chipping set of pots and pans. Her instincts as a trained journalist led her to research first. A few Google searches later, she found herself quickly overwhelmed by the many cookware options available. From the type of material, to number of pieces, to the colors, Tishgart learned the possibilities for cookware were endless. In addition, most of the options she found were unnecessarily cost-prohibitive, too complicated to use or downright ugly.

 Tishgart couldn’t accept the fact that finding the perfect cookware had to be so complicated. So, she took the matter into her own hands. Tishgart invited her friend (and co-founder) Maddy Moelis to help create a better cookware solution, one that was custom-built down to every last detail. They named it Great Jones, a line of beautiful yet practical pots and pans intended to help people, “feel equipped and empowered to cook more frequently.”

 Over the course nine months, Tishgart and Moelis worked to bring Great Jones to life. In November 2018, they launched Great Jones online with a five-piece cookware set – the basic pieces Tishgart believes every cook needs in order to cook successfully at home. Since launch, the entrepreneurs have been celebrated by Forbes (named to their “30 Under 30” list) and others for modernizing the cookware shopping experience from start-to finish.

 Kaitlyn Thompson (BSJ11, IMC17) recently spoke with the co-founder and Medill alumna about what it was like to go from magazine journalist to accidental entrepreneur. This is what Tishgart had to say about the adventure, condensed from an interview and in her own words.

 Thompson: I think it’s fair to say you’ve been on quite a journey over the past year. If you could sum up creating Great Jones cookware, how would you describe it?

Tishgart: Our primary goal in creating our own line of cookware was to make people feel more confident cooking at home. For me, many things make me feel insecure when I try to cook at home. I’ve struggled with not knowing what pan to use, how to prepare the dish, or even just trying to get the perfect Instagram shot of my food. None of it left me feeling very confident in the kitchen. The irony is before I even tried to start cooking more, I couldn’t even find good tools to start – the right pots and pans. I knew if I didn’t feel confident in the kitchen, I was probably not alone.

Thompson: In the article you wrote in March 2019 for Bon Appétit, you talk about what it was like to quit your job and build a business (later to be called Great Jones) but to have to keep the business a secret. Now, the secret’s out! What’s it like to see people talking about your company?

Tishgart: It’s simply wild. It still feels a bit surreal to see Great Jones living and breathing. One year ago, no one held our products in their hands. Now, people are using the cookware, and it’s so fun to see the many ways they make the products work for them. For example, I love to see people use our cookware as bakeware. All of our pots and pans can go in the oven, so it’s fun to watch others make them multi-use.

Thompson: Early on, you decided to bring on a business partner – your friend Maddy Moelis. What made you decide you wanted a co-founder to help launch Great Jones?

Tishgart: I knew I had certain skills that Great Jones would need, like my journalism background and my relationships with chefs and other food editors, but I also knew I had some gaps. I brought Maddy on board because I knew she could fill those gaps, having learned lessons from working at Warby Parker and Zola in particular.  As co-founders, we’ve put a lot of work into learning what we thrive at, what we do best independently, and what we do well together to make ourselves the best business leaders. Our company is changing rapidly. Our first hire was someone to run our social media accounts, but since then, we’ve brought on operations, customer experience, experiential marketing, data analytics. It’s been a great ride to see the growth and change with Maddy by my side.

Thompson: What do you think your time at Medill and Northwestern did to prepare you to start your own company?

Tishgart: I believe journalists make for great entrepreneurs. At its core, being an entrepreneur is about approaching strangers and pitching ideas. One of the first skills any journalist learns is how to ask total strangers for time, advice and help. Medill pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to sell myself and my ideas. I also think Medill instilled in me an ability to do really thorough research, something I use daily in my work on Great Jones.

Thompson: What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself in the process of launching your own business?

Tishgart: I’ve learned the extent of my work ethic. Creating and running a company is so much work. I’ve also learned how rewarding it is to have the opportunity to not just create a set of products, but a strong workplace culture where people can feel supported. We have a team of all women right now, and I love that Great Jones is a safe workplace where everyone can grow and thrive. Finally, I have actually become a better cook! Perhaps more important than just improving my skills, I cook more. Our cookware has opened up the door to do exactly what I had always hoped: to make cooking a part of my everyday routine.

Thompson: As we close our time together, what advice would you give to Medill alums looking to start their own businesses?

Tishgart: I would encourage any potential entrepreneur, whether they are connected to Medill or not, to ask themselves why they are the right person to start the business or tell the story. I believe every entrepreneur needs to have a very compelling answer to that question. Ideas are everywhere, but what positioned Maddy and me for success with Great Jones was that we really made sense for this project. I spent five years immersed in the food world, and Maddy had a deep knowledge of the startup space, plus she knew cookware. When you know the answer is that you are the best person to bring that company or idea to life, then there’s one thing left to do. Go for it!

Tishgart and her business partner Moelis both reside in New York City. For more on Great Jones’ line of modern and accessible cookware, click here

Kaitlyn Thompson is a marketing strategist, passionate storyteller, global citizen, green tea connoisseur and chili cook-off champion always asking “why.”

Cover photo: from left: Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis