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Stephanie Edgerly Wins 2020 Outstanding JMCQ Award

Medill Associate Professor and Director of Research Stephanie Edgerly and Emily K. Vraga won the 22020 Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly (JMCQ) award for their article, “Deciding What’s News: News-ness as an Audience Concept for the Hybrid Media Environment.”

The typical way news has been defined is from a journalist’s point of view. This study proposes a new way of addressing the definition of “news” from the point of view of readers. The article places the audience’s sensemaking processes at the center to better understand how consumers define what media content counts as news and offers an essential framework for addressing the fluidity of news consumption. This framework opens new pathways for understanding the future of journalism studies internationally.

This annual award recognizes an article that makes significant contributions to theory and methodology in journalism and mass communication. The winner is selected by Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication members, the JMCQ editorial review board, and the editorial team of the journal. The authors of the winning article receive a certificate as well as $1,000 cash award during the AEJMC annual convention.

Read the articles here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1077699020916808
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1077699020906492

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1990s Featured Legacies Legacies

Tom Perrotta (BSJ98)

Thomas “Tom” Perrotta, 44,  of Brooklyn, NY, passed away peacefully at home on January 6, 2021. He was the beloved husband of Rachel Kane and father to Paul and Sean. Born in Providence, he was the son of Norma (Rattenni) Perrotta and the late Leo Perrotta.

In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by his siblings Leo J. Perrotta (Debbie) of Portsmouth, Michael Perrotta (Rhonda) of Cranston, Lisa Hanch (David Lefort) of North Providence, Patricia Martineau (John) of Johnston and John Perrotta of North Providence. He also leaves 2 nieces and 3 nephews.

Tom attended North Providence High School and received his undergraduate degree from Medill. He became a freelance sportswriter, specializing in tennis, and wrote for several publications, including the Wall Street Journal. He traveled extensively around the world to cover tennis tournaments. It was his “dream job,” but his first love was his family. He treasured his visits to Rhode Island, returning often for holidays and other family gatherings, summertime visits to Charlestown beach and stops at Mr. Lemon for lemonade.

Tom was a loving and generous person who always went out of his way to help friends and colleagues. His memory will be cherished by all who knew him.

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/providence/name/thomas-perrotta-obituary?pid=197496652

Read a tribute from Sports Illustrated: https://www.si.com/tennis/2021/01/13/mailbag-tennis-writer-tom-perrotta-tribute-2021-season

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Medill News

Prof. Joe Matthewson Publishes Fifth Book “Ethical Journalism: Adopting the Ethics of Care”

Joe Matthewson published his fifth book, “Ethical Journalism: Adopting the Ethics of Care,” published by Routledge (August 31, 2021)

In the book, Matthewson argues that that our democracy’s continuing pernicious shortcomings of racial inequity, economic disparity and climate change are simply unacceptable and must be more actively addressed by journalism, to mobilize public opinion to in turn persuade government and business leaders and other thought leaders to take effective action to ameliorate these shortcomings and eventually overcome them.

The template for this new initiative would be a distinctly American philosophy called the Ethics of Care, first formulated by feminist academic philosophers in the 1980s; it holds that emotions, not reason, actually govern human relationships (first postulated by Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume) and expects all people to actively assist family, friends, neighbors and perhaps a broader population when they’re in need. Empathy v. reason. These writers emphatically (and very persuasively) reject the thinking of the rational moral philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative.

Joe Matthewson head shot.
Prof. Joe Matthewson

“When I encountered the philosophy of ethics of care, I was taken by the very humane approach to people’s relationships with each other, based on emotion rather than reasoning,” Matthewson said. “This philosophy, first articulated by feminist philosophers in the 1980s, postulates—quite correctly, in my view—that we human beings reach out to help family, friends and neighbors in need because of our feelings for them, not because we stop and apply the reason-based moral phi

losophy of what’s right and what can be universally applied to others in the same situation.”

Further, he added, “At the same time, when I ask my students what their aspirations are (as I always do in a little personal information questionnaire), many if not most of them reply that they want to make a difference, change the world, tackle problems like race discrimination. Don’t most practicing journalists today feel the same? They’re not in it for the money; they want to make an impact, and they’re in a position to do so. Even in the face of dishonest, corrupting “news” and social media, our public discourse is still driven by ethical journalism. No big societal problem like racial inequity, economic disparity or climate change can be successfully addressed without truthful, fact-based public information. So I sat down to write.”

Mathewson is a former Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and a practicing lawyer in Chicago. Mathewson also covered business for The Journal, was a reporter for WBBM-TV in Chicago, press secretary to Illinois Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie. He was a Cook County commissioner and a director of several community banks, was an officer of a minority-owned broker-dealer, and was a securities arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers. He also served ten years as a trustee of Dartmouth College.

To purchase the book, please visit: https://www.routledge.com/Ethical-Journalism-Adopting-the-Ethics-of-Care/Mathewson/p/book/9780367690779

20% Discount Available – enter the code FLY21 at
checkout!

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Student work from spring course Reading and Reporting LGBTQ Health

Students in the spring 2021 Reading and Reporting LGBTQ Health course with Associate Prof. Stephen William Thrasher wrote and produced impressive stories developed in partnership with the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) and its faculty.

Jude Cramer (BSJ23) got their final project professionally published by Into magazine. 

“Trans Artists Are The Past, Present and Future of Drag” by Jude Cramer, published by Into magazine

Photo from Cramer’s article courtesy of Die Anna. 

More Student Work

Interactive

“Queer in Quarantine. Capturing Northwestern students’ thoughts on sexuality and gender after a year in isolation” by Maia Spoto

Print + images (links to PDFs)

“Help! The White Heteropatriarchy Took My Penis! How Queer Asian Only Fans Creators Deal With Stigma” by Alex Chun

“alice sparkly kat want s us to make astrology our own again: if western astrology is connected to oppressive structures just like other western spiritual traditions, how do we practice it ethically?” by Susanna Kemp

Audio Podcasts

“Cishet Girlworld” by Molly Lubbers (23 minutes)

“Queer Representation” [and finding it in the Peanuts and Glee]  by Margo Milanowski (12 minutes)

Print only (links to PDFs) 

“‘Only the first step:’ Chicago-area LGBTQ coalition gets SOGI data bill to Governor’s desk” by James Pollard

“Queer Curation and Queer Regional Imaginary in Queer South-Asian Literary Collectionsby Saira Singh

(Note: this is an academic paper, not a story, and includes an example of how the students were asked to read a partner’s work and an example of how they were asked to reflect on a text from the course in their work. Here, Saira reflects on a text from Imagining Queer Methods.)

Special thanks to Huffington Post editor Noah Michaelson, ISGMH Associate Director Jagadīśa-devaśrī Dācus , and ISGM professor Kathryn Macapagal for being guest critics in helping the students develop their projects.

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Home My Medill Story

American OZ – Living the Life by Micheal Sean Comeford (MSJ83)

Classic Amusement owner George D’Olivo is a former pro-wrestler who went by Beautiful Bo Paradise in his pro-wrestling days. It didn’t take him long to figure out that a journalist working in his carnival was problematic. Carnivals are about fantasies. Journalists crush fantasies. Soon, Mr. Paradise saw me as Mr. Trouble in Paradise.

Mike in front of rollercoaster.
Michael Sean Comerford

No carnival owner will hire a writer like you, he said. And the “new face” of the American carny is a seasonal Mexican migrant worker. You don’t speak Spanish. Your traveling carnival project, he said, wasn’t well thought out. He may have even used the word “stupid.”

The more problems he raised, surprisingly, the more I felt like I was shooting sitting ducks at a carnival. Every obstacle presented a solution. Firstly, some Mexicans speak English, and I’ll get to know them. After the season ends, I’ll go to Mexico to see how they live in “winter quarters.”

If no carnival owner hires Mike the writer, then they’ll hire Mike the carny.

“Gone were the plans to spend the year with Classic,” I wrote in American OZ. “Gone too were open, honest interviews. From that morning forward, people wouldn’t know I was writing about them. Against my will, I became a spy.”

I became a “ride jockey” running rides and a “jointee” running games in California, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Florida – where I worked in a freak show but they didn’t let me on stage “because they didn’t see the inner freak in me.”

After the season, I journeyed down to the mostly lawless foothills of Veracruz, Mexico to meet with workers I knew up north. The small town of Tlapacoyan is a feeder town that sends most of its men north to traveling carnivals every year. As a result, it’s nearly empty of men most of the year.

Living on carnival wages, I hitchhiked 13,700 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Alaska to Florida. I became the #1 hitchhiker in North America that year. In all, I covered 21,570 miles via bus, train, and hitchhiking.

During the year, I wrote an ongoing blog for The Huffington Post, my own blog https://eyeslikecarnivals.com/, and I wrote a 2013 essay for Northwestern magazine’s column “Purple Prose” http://ow.ly/uhk750FktlS. I wrote the Purple Prose column at a McDonald’s outside the State Fair of Texas, where I was running a carnival game of dubious repute.

New York and Chicago publishing houses didn’t want a “carnival” book. And “hitchhiking” books still are publishing poison. I worked with a literary agent, but we parted ways when the big advance didn’t materialize.

Through six years of rejections and rewrites, the book grew more compelling until I self-published American OZ: An Astonishing Year Inside Traveling Carnivals at State Fairs & Festivals: Hitchhiking From California to New York, Alaska to Mexico in the summer of 2020. It remained a #1 Amazon bestseller well into this year.

The hidden core of American OZ became clearer to me with the rewrites. All the facts and quotes remained, but coworkers grew to represent the working poor, without healthcare, living in unsanitary conditions, and subject to labor abuses on the road. The stories fleshed out the humanity of people seeking love and meaning on the road. The year developed a story arc with deeper meanings and universal themes.

If I felt anxious about my loved ones far away from the carnival, I dug down to mine those feelings for American OZ. If I was tired, broke and feeling abused, it was a good guess I wasn’t the only one. American OZ took on an inner life.

It’s not that the book would not have seen the light of day without advances in self-publishing. George Orwell gained praise for writing Down and Out in Paris and London. Medill’s own practitioner of the “journalism of empathy,” Alex Kotlowicz, won the 2020 Lucas Prize for An American Summer, a chronicle of gun violence in Chicago. They successfully wrote about the harsh edges of society.

Yet it was the long, hard road writing American OZ that taught me that living the life made writing the life come to life.

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1990s Class Notes Featured Class Notes

Joanne C. Gersnter (MSJ95)

Joanne C. Gerstner was elected to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for its 2021 class. She joins the two other female sports media already elected to the Hall, and she is the first female sports writer. She is being honored for her award-winning career and leadership to advocate and promote women in sports media.

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Books

American OZ: An Astonishing Year Inside Traveling Carnivals at State Fairs & Festivals: Hitchhiking From California to New York, Alaska to Mexico

Michael Sean Comerford (MSJ83)

American OZ is a rollicking, gritty, adventurous story of life in the secretive subculture of traveling carnivals. You’ll never see your state fair or street fest the same way again.

Michael Sean Comerford writes a bold, inspiring true story of a year working behind the scenes with the colorful characters and legends of carnivals.

It’s a new classic American road story as he hitchhikes to shows in California, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Florida where he works in a freak show. He travels to the lawless foothills of Mexico to see the new face of the American carny.Learn about their hidden world among us. The deeper you read the more you’ll see. A #1 Amazon bestseller, it’s available everywhere books are sold, including audiobooks.

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Home Medill News

Journalists Katherine Lewis and Chandra Thomas Whitfield awarded Medill Garage Media Entrepreneur Fellowship

Medill, in partnership with The Garage, Northwestern’s entrepreneurial incubator, has awarded the 2021 Medill and The Garage Media Entrepreneur Fellowship to Katherine Lewis and Chandra Thomas Whitfield.

Lewis and Whitfield are long-time journalists, having written for and worked with organizations such as Atlanta Magazine, In These Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post and The New York Times. They plan to use the fellowship to launch The Center for Independent Journalists (CIJ), an education, professional development, support and advocacy organization for independent journalists of color.

“BIPOC freelance journalists produce outstanding work and often struggle to make a living, with few resources centering on our needs,” said Lewis. “Journalists of color and women are more likely to build careers independently, and are frequently exploited and underpaid. The pandemic exacerbated this trend. CIJ will provide education in business development, cash flow, contracts, negotiation, prioritization and time management, as well as community support and mentorship.”

“We need to continually innovate to overcome the obstacles facing contemporary media, particularly on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “That is why talented entrepreneurs like Katherine and Chandra are so important and why Medill is proud to support them in their efforts.”

The one-year fellowship supports entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups—with an emphasis on women and people of color—who are working on innovation in the media industry. As part of the fellowship, Lewis and Whitfield will receive an $80,000 stipend for the year, and access to a variety of resources across Northwestern at Medill, The Garage, the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the University at-large to help them to continue to expand their work.

“I know it sounds cliché but words cannot adequately express what it means to me as a veteran journalist to not only be acknowledged by — but to also be affiliated with — the Medill School and The Garage at Northwestern University,” said Whitfield. “It is an honor, a privilege and definitely a highlight of my career. This is more than just a professional development opportunity for Katherine and me; it is also an opportunity for us to channel our passion, concerns and many years of journalism experience into creating an organization that we firmly believe can fill a huge void and address a long unaddressed need in our industry.”

Throughout its journalism and integrated marketing communications programs, Medill emphasizes the importance of technological innovation and telling the stories of diverse audiences.

The Garage at Northwestern is a community and physical space for every Northwestern student interested in entrepreneurship to learn, iterate and grow. The 11,000 square foot space, carved out of the North Campus parking structure, is currently home to more than 60 student-founded startups and projects.

“Katherine and Chandra are accomplished, seasoned journalists and promising entrepreneurs,” said Melissa Kaufman, founding executive director of The Garage. “We look forward to helping them launch their venture and welcoming them as a resource to our student-founders.”

“Out of an impressive field of candidates, Katherine and Chandra stood out not only for their accomplishments, but for their focus on supporting journalists in the evolving media ecosystem through The Center for Independent Journalists,” said Mike Raab, associate director at The Garage, who helped to select Lewis and Whitfield.

Katherine Lewis

Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning journalist and author based in the Washington, D.C. area who writes about education, equity, mental health, parenting, science and social justice for publications including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Parents and The Washington Post. Her 2015 story on the school-to-prison pipeline became Mother Jones’ most-read article ever, and led to her bestselling 2018 book, “The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever — And What to Do About It.” Her current long-form narrative project on racial justice in education is supported by the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism and the MIT Knight Science Journalism fellowship. As a biracial journalist (Asian American and White), she’s been active in the Asian American Journalists Association for more than 20 years. Before becoming a freelancer in 2008, she worked as a national correspondent for Newhouse News Service and Bloomberg News.

Chandra Thomas Whitfield

Chandra Thomas Whitfield is a multiple award-winning multimedia journalist whose work has appeared in a wide variety of media outlets, including NBCNews.com, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Undefeated, Essence, Ebony, People, Newsweek, The Root, The Grio, TIME.com, NPR.org and the Atlanta affiliate of NPR. As a 2019-2020 Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Journalism Fellow, she served as host and producer of “In The Gap,” a podcast for In These Times magazine about how the gender pay gap affects the lives — and livelihoods — of Black women in America. Whitfield has also been named “Journalist of the Year” by both the Atlanta Press Club and the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and received honors from the Association for Women in Communications, the Colorado Association of Black Journalists and Mental Health America. A proud New Orleans native and Clark Atlanta University graduate, she is also an alum of a diverse mix of  other journalism fellowship programs, including with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, the Education Writers Association, Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, Soros Justice Media, Kiplinger Public Affairs at the Ohio State University, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism programs, respectively. A feature story that she penned for Atlanta Magazine made the Atlanta Press Club’s “Atlanta’s Top 10 Favorite Stories of the Past 50 Years” list and it is also widely credited with contributing to a change in Georgia law and a teen’s early release from a 10-year prison sentence.

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2010s Class Notes

Parisa Durrani (IMC2013)

After starting her career (post-IMC) as the Director of Strategy for Canada’s most awarded technology agency, Parisa Durrani is now the President of BASMA Beauty. BASMA Beauty launched this spring and their first product – The Foundation Stick – has been dubbed a “game-changer” by Beyonce’s makeup artist. It has also been featured in NYLON Magazine, Byrdie, Refiner29 and Bustle.

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1970s Legacies

Susan L. Pedigo (BSJ70)

Susan L. Pedigo passed away Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at Central Dupage Hospital. She was born on October 13, 1948 in Berkeley, California.

Sue began her work career with Sears Roebuck and held communications and management positions with Watson Wyatt, The Segal Company, UBS Global Asset Management, 52 Communications and others.

She was very active in professional associations, including the Association for Women in Communications and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, and served as President of both.

Sue loved spending time each Fall in the Wisconsin Northwoods with husband and friends. She was a fabulous cook and devoted “cat lady”.

She is survived by her beloved husband of 46 years, Robin Holt of Glen Ellyn, brother-in-law Courtney Brian Holt of Grafton New Hampshire and sister-in-law Christine Holt Winnell of Vienna, West Virginia.

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/chicagotribune/name/susan-pedigo-obituary?id=5785987