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Al Borcover (MSJ57)

Republished from the Chicago Tribune 

Alfred Borcover was the Tribune’s travel editor in the 1980s and ’90s, a time when travel sections were a robust element of Sunday newspapers and writers covered the globe in search of interesting stories.

“Back in the day, Al took readers to places near and far with an easygoing style that made them feel that they were his traveling companions,” said Carolyn McGuire, a retired Tribune associate Travel editor. “Between assignments he was always available to give advice to anyone who asked how to beat jet lag or the best hotel to stay in — you name it.”

Borcover, 92, died of natural causes on Jan. 24 at the Warren Barr Lieberman long-term care facility in Skokie, said his wife of 34 years, Linda. A longtime Evanston resident, Borcover had been battling a range of health issues and had been in hospice care.

Born Alfred Seymour Borcover in Bellaire, Ohio, Borcover was the son of a Russian-born father and a mother who had immigrated to the U.S. from Austria. He received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in 1953 and then served for two years in the U.S. Air Force, where he was a first lieutenant and served in Morocco and at a radar station in Maine, his family said.

In 1957, he received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Two years later he joined the Tribune, briefly as a reporter before becoming a copy editor.

Borcover joined the Tribune’s Travel section in 1963 and for the next 10 years was an assistant travel editor, while also writing long articles about various destinations. His first Travel section article, published July 1963, took readers to Vilas County, in north-central Wisconsin, which he described as a “scenic wonderland of 1,300 lakes and thousands of acres of towering forests.”

Borcover’s stories included a focus on affordable rail travel while he also visited far-flung locales such as Tunisia and Israel. During this time he provided the content for “Arthur Frommer’s Dollar-Wise Guide to Chicago,” which was published in 1967. Tribune book critic Clarence Petersen called it “authoritative, well-written, fascinating and up-to-date,” and a book “to remind us natives of some of the attractions of home.”

A series he developed in 1976 on Bicentennial travel destinations, including Yellowstone National Park, the Arizona desert, Glacier Bay in Alaska and the Grand Canyon, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

Borcover was named the Tribune’s Travel editor in 1979. In addition to leading the section and assigning stories to writers, he continued to file reports from around the world and also wrote a weekly column.

In 1986, he broke a story about scams that had been launched in Chicago by sham vacation brokers who took consumers’ fees but then denied them trips on the dates they desired. Ultimately the brokers were targeted by the Federal Trade Commission and sued by the state attorney general’s office before the state General Assembly passed legislation cracking down on such travel promoters.

Borcover continued focusing on travel scams, and his columns were distributed around the country through Tribune wire services.

“Though he was based here in Chicago, his syndicated stories and columns traveled as widely as he did,” said Randy Curwen, who succeeded Borcover as the Tribune’s Travel editor. “As a travel writer, editor and columnist, Al certainly knew his way around the world. And everybody in the travel world knew Al.”

In addition to basic information on destinations such as maps and costs, Borcover offered personal observations in his stories.

“What struck me … was that I didn’t feel as if I were in South America,” Borcover wrote in March 1983 on a trip to Buenos Aires. “The city’s ambience and architecture — from the colorful Italian district of La Boca with its brightly painted homes to the grandiose scale of Avenida 9 de Julio — were definitely European. The undiluted ethnicity of the few gracious residents I had met, and others I overheard, left me with the quick impression that this melting-pot country had not melted as in the U.S. Language of origin had not been buried, but preserved.”

Retired Tribune foreign correspondent R.C. “Dick” Longworth recalled Borcover’s “always upbeat and good-natured” personality.

“Al was one of the nicest guys in the Tribune newsroom,” Longworth said. “He was also a real pro, a graceful writer and a fine editor whose own sense of fun and adventure infused the paper’s Travel section.”

After visiting 60 countries, Borcover stepped down as Travel editor in 1993 and retired from the Tribune in February 1994.

“People always ask: What’s your favorite place?” Borcover wrote in his farewell column. “I never have an adequate answer. There are just too many places in the world to love, and I’m not finished seeing all that I want to see. There’s no end in sight.”

Borcover continued to write about travel for another 17 years as a freelancer, including a biweekly column for the Travel section.

Shortly after his final byline in the Tribune in 2011, Borcover began volunteering at O’Hare International Airport with Travelers Aid, working at an information desk.

“He loved volunteering to work on the travel desk at O’Hare, and would go every week, for a time, to sit at that desk in one of the terminals and offer advice and help to travelers,” said former Tribune correspondent Storer “Bob” Rowley, a longtime friend.

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Books

My Fighting Family: Borders and Bloodlines and the Battles That Made Us

Morgan Campbell (BSJ99)

Morgan Campbell comes from “a fighting family,” a connection and clash that reaches back to Chicago in the 1930s. His parents’ families were both part of the Great Migration from the U.S. rural south to the industrial north, but a history of perceived slights and social schisms solidified a feud that only intensified over the century.

Morgan’s maternal grandfather, Claude Jones—a legendary grudge-holder and fixture of the Chicago jazz scene—was recruited to play in Toronto and eventually settled in Canada in the mid-1960s. Morgan’s paternal grandmother, Granny Mary, however, remained stateside, a distance her resentments would only grow to fill.

Bearing witness to these tensions was young Morgan, an aspiring writer, budding athlete, and slow-jam scholar whose American roots landed him an outsider status that exposed the profound gap between Canada’s multicultural reputation and its very different reality.

Having grown up bouncing between these disparate identities—Black and Canadian, Canadian and American, Campbell and Jones—Morgan has crafted a witty, wise, rich, and soulful illumination of the journey to find clarity in all that conflict.
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Books

Coyotes Among US

Kerry Luft (BSJ87)

Coyotes Among Us is an eye-opening volume of research and photographs exploring one of North America’s most persistent—and misunderstood—predators. The coyote. Even its image conjures up more myth than fact. From its depictions as the “trickster” in ancient fables to its portrayal as a threat to humans and their pets in modern news sources, coyotes are rarely shown in a favorable light. Now, the Urban Coyote Research Project pulls back the curtain on the defamed coyote, revealing the surprising truth about this unique creature. Though harassed and hunted for generations, today the coyote persists and even thrives. With an innate ability to adjust to new climates and environments, the coyote has developed an expansive range. Once confined to the American West, it now lives in forty-nine states, across lower Canada, throughout Mexico, and all the way to Costa Rica. Its habitat ranges from rural prairie to urban overpasses; it is the largest animal to regularly live wild within city limits. The coyote continues to overcome the ceaseless intrusion of urban development to create a bright and flourishing future, providing its human neighbors a surprising number of benefits. With stunning images of coyotes within their surprising habitats, Coyotes Among Us draws from decades of experience to dispel coyote myths, highlight the benefits of living with coyotes, and embrace the coyote as a brilliant survivor against all odds.

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2000s Class Notes Featured Class Notes Uncategorized

Michelle Edgar (BSJ05)

Michelle Edgar has built a career at the intersection of social impact, entertainment, sports, fashion, and culture. As a connector and founder, she has worked closely with talent, management, brands, and business leaders to ideate, strategize and build impactful marketing campaigns. As a strategic marketing executive with an emphasis on driving value for IP, talent and brands, Michelle has launched talent-focused global campaigns on behalf of both brands and agencies.

In December, she joined the Compton Unified School District as the senior director of business partnerships and schools bringing programs, resources and funding to the district across entertainment, arts, sports, technology and STEM. Last fall, she joined the Santa Monica Arts Commission as living a life of service and helping shape community across a city landscape is a priority along with creating opportunities for all ages and stages and walks of life. This month January, she will be an adjunct professor at Northwestern Law teaching a Sports Law course on Endorsements, Name Image, and Likeness for college athletes. She additionally is a SBJ correspondent.

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1990s Class Notes Featured Class Notes

Leslie Krohn (MSJ93)

Leslie Krohn was named Executive Vice President and Chief Brand and Communications Officer at The Joint Commission Enterprise, a global driver of quality improvement and patient safety in healthcare, in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. She was previously Chief Communications Officer at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL.

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1990s Class Notes

Fr Paul Siewers (MSJ92)

Alf Siewers (now Father Paul), MSJ ’82, was ordained to the priesthood in August 2023, in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He also continues to be Associate Professor of English Literary Studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg PA, where he lives with his family. He formerly was Urban Affairs Writer at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Home My Medill Story

Mariana Alfaro (BSJ18, MSJ18): Politics Breaking News Reporter at The Washington Post

What is your current role and what are your main responsibilities?

I’m currently a politics breaking news reporter at The Washington Post. My main responsibility is covering all the breaking news in politics, whether it’s in the White House, Congress, or campaign events. I work with a team of four reporters, and we are constantly monitoring lawmakers and events. We also send alerts when significant events like Biden signing a bill occur.

Did you always want to go into breaking news and political reporting, or did your interests change during your time at Medill?

No, I didn’t initially plan to pursue breaking news reporting. It was something I discovered when I landed this job. I always knew I enjoyed fast-paced work, and my attention span is well-suited for breaking news. However, I didn’t anticipate becoming a political reporter. Growing up in El Salvador, I wasn’t exposed to U.S. politics beyond knowing that Obama was the president. But during my time at Medill, I participated in the Medill On the Hill program and fell in love with American politics, especially during the 2016 election. I ended up doing internships in politics in Texas and covering the city hall in New York, however, I realized that I wanted to come back to DC because of the strong Salvadoran community and the opportunities it offered.

How did you envision your career path when you started at Medill, and how did it change once you graduated?

When I first started at Medill, I thought I was going to spend four years in the U.S. and then go back to Latin America and work as a foreign correspondent for an American outlet. I already had the idea that I wouldn’t be able to stay here. But the more I learned about American politics, the more I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I realized my passions aligned with covering this topic, and every day at work felt exciting because I was so invested in what I was doing. At that point, I knew I had to do my best to stay. I took a class with Professor Whitaker, who is now the Dean of Medill, about the specific visa I’m on. I researched it, spoke to experts, and realized that it was possible for me to stay. I’m glad I had the opportunity to delve into that visa topic because it allowed me to remain in the country. My experiences at Medill changed the path I wanted to take for the rest of my life. It only took one quarter when I got the opportunity to take classes in DC for the Medill On the Hill program, where I  tried something new and broadened my horizons. I don’t know if I would be here if I hadn’t gone to Medill and tried to succeed.

How did your experience at Medill shape your approach to reporting?

One professor who greatly influenced my reporting approach is Professor Peter Slevin. He taught me to look beyond the surface and consider the bigger picture when covering politics. Instead of focusing solely on the immediate news, he encouraged us to understand the underlying factors that led to a particular event. This perspective has stuck with me, even in breaking news situations, I aim to provide readers with context and let them form their own opinions. Many other professors at Medill emphasized this approach, and I’m grateful for the valuable lessons I learned. Additionally, my time at The Daily Northwestern, where I started my journalism career, taught me important skills in managing a newsroom and covering breaking news. 

How has the Medill network supported you throughout your career?

My Medill network has been invaluable to me. When I applied for my first job at The Washington Post, I reached out to a friend who had been my RA during the Cherubs summer program in 2013. She is a Medill alumni and was on the team I was applying to at The Post. She provided me with insights into the job, interview tips, and helped me prepare in ways that made me become a good candidate for the position. We still talk regularly, and I’m grateful for her guidance. There are also many Northwestern alumni at The Post, and having that common bond has created a sense of community. I rely on my Medill connections for advice, support, and professional opportunities. They are like family to me.

Can you share an experience that stands out from your time at Medill?

With Medill courses, I got the opportunity to travel to France and South Africa, where we reported on immigration. At some moment, it dawned on me that we always talk about immigration as if it’s this big crisis going on in the world. As an immigrant myself, these two trips made me realize that there’s so much more context to immigration than what the media portrays. There’s so much more that we don’t take into consideration when we’re writing these articles. Being in South Africa gave me insights into the stories of these Zimbabwean immigrants trying to rebuild their lives. It made me think a lot about Central American immigrants in the United States and made me realize that at some point, I want to work in some sort of field that lets me cover immigration patterns worldwide. To get there, I have to cover a wide variety of things to understand where people are coming from and their positions, and it’s something I’m still pursuing. 

From your experiences, do you have any advice you would give to someone who’s currently attending or choosing to attend Medill? 

Growing up in El Salvador, when I said I wanted to go to journalism school, everyone was like, “Oh, good luck with that. There’s no job,” especially as a non-American. We’re often told that there’s no path to success. But I’ve clearly seen it happen to me and many other international students. So my advice is not to let the doubters get in your way of succeeding. There are many ways to have a successful and happy career. As an international student, you just have to put your best work forward, put in the effort, try your best, keep the connections going, talk to editors, send your resume to everyone, and sell your story and your experience. Don’t think that there’s no spot for you in American journalism because there really is. So my main message is don’t give up, but also understand that it takes a lot of work. If you already have the idea of being a journalist in America, it’s definitely doable. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

My best advice to journalism students right now is to seize as many opportunities as you can to experiment with digital and online journalism. The traditional ways we’ve been taught are evolving, and we’re moving away from print as the main product. So it’s important to gain skills in audio journalism, TV and radio hits, and even platforms like TikTok. You might not use all of these skills, but it’s better to have them when you enter the real world and realize that newsrooms are diversifying how they deliver news. 

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Home Medill News More News My Medill Story

Investigative reporter Kristin Thorne brings her Medill skills to another level: making a true crime series come to life

“Can you imagine waking up every day and not knowing where someone you loved is, even if they’re dead?” Thorne asked.

Kristin Thorne, an investigative reporter for WABC-TV Eyewitness News (MSJ05), has made a name for herself in the journalism industry with her in-depth reporting on local and national issues. Kristin’s latest project, a true-crime series called “Missing”, has gained attention and critical acclaim since its debut in December 2021.

Thorne joined the Eyewitness News team in January 2012, after working as a reporter at News 12 Westchester and WHTM-TV ABC 27 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She was promoted to the 7 On Your Side Investigates team in January 2022 after serving 10 years as the station’s Long Island Correspondent.

Thorne was initially inspired to shine a light on the stories of missing people after covering the disappearance of Gabby Petito. As the lead reporter for all of ABC News on this case, Thorne put her investigative skills to work, following the investigation to Florida to cover the search. At one of the press conferences, Joe Petito, Gabby’s father, looked over at the media and said, as Thorne recounted, “You need to do a better job of covering missing people, because more people should be getting the attention as my daughter did.”

“I remember having this lightning bolt moment where I thought, he’s absolutely right,” Thorne said.

Today, Thorne creates, writes, and produces “Missing”, which investigates the disappearances of people from the New York City area. Each episode explores the story of a person who has gone missing. 

As a journalist, Thorne has utilized the skills she has learned over the years, such as investigation and research, and describes herself as a detective and journalist.

“I am working as a detective for these families,” she said. “I search, investigate, knock on doors, doing anything a detective would do.”

For each case, Thorne puts together clues that lead to the missing person, and although she hasn’t found anybody yet, she believes in many of these cases, people have been killed, and she assumes that their bodies have been hidden, so she is tracking down murderers. 

“That’s what I’m doing, I’m putting together clues that are going to lead me to the person who disposed of this person’s body,” Thorne said. 

The alleged murderers from these cases have gotten away with their actions for many years, yet Thorne still has hope.

“Do I expect the person who killed these individuals to come forward? No, I don’t,” she said. “They’ve gotten away with it for this many years. What I’m hoping is that the people around them, after this amount of time, may have a piece of heart left in them that they can come forward and say, ‘I didn’t tell the truth back then.’”

While working on the next episodes of “Missing”, Thorne is still investigating and providing updates on past cases. 

“These investigations keep going,” Thorne said. “It’s very challenging, but they’re always in my head.”

Thorne struggled to find the first case that she worked on. She called private investigators throughout New York City and ended up finding a private investigator on Long Island who got her in touch with the family of Leanne Marie Hausberg, a 14-year-old girl who went missing in 1999. She is the first episode of “Missing” and the youngest victim that Thorne has ever worked on. This family took a chance with Thorne without even knowing who she was, but because of this, the Hausberg family led her to the next cases she worked on. 

“I always tell people I had no idea how easy it is to disappear,” Thorne said. “Even with cameras and phones, women have disappeared into thin air in New York City. And it’s not crazy, it happens all the time.”

Thorne’s passion for journalism began at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to earn her master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Medill. Thorne now shares her expertise with aspiring journalists as an adjunct professor at Hofstra University, teaching journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication.

“Medill formed me, it gave me the foundation that I needed to be in this line of work, and I still go back to concepts and techniques that I learned from my professors at Medill,” Thorne said. 

When Thorne first got to Medill, she thought about doing production, but she was not sure if she wanted to be on air. Thorne refers back to former faculty member Anne Johnsos, who told her to try being on air, and if not, she could go back to production. After giving it a try, she decided that was exactly what she wanted to do. 

“That’s why I love the series,” Thorne said. “It allows me to do everything, I’m in the series, and I produce it, so it allows me to use all those skills.”

Thorne’s dedication to her work has not gone unnoticed, as “Missing” was recently nominated for Best Local TV News Series by the New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and won a New York Emmy Award in 2022 for best crime program. She has also earned an Emmy Award and numerous Emmy nominations, as well as two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and several Folio awards, which honor the best of Long Island journalism. With her commitment to investigative reporting and compelling storytelling, Thorne has established herself as one of the most respected journalists in the industry today.

You can watch Missing on Hulu, on the ABC7 New York app on Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google TV and at www.ABC7NY.com/missing. Missing’s third season will premiere in May.

 

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1940s Legacies

Ruth Margaret Jackson (BSJ47)

Margaret “Ruthie” Jackson, 96, of the Lake Geneva area passed away peacefully just five days before her 97 birthday on March 14, 2023, at Geneva Lake Manor.

Margaret Ruth Jackson was born on March 19th, 1926 in Low Moor, Iowa, to the late William R and Margaret (Saltmarsh) Blake.  Margaret, or Ruthie as she was known to friends and family, attended High School in Clinton, Iowa.  After High School Ruthie then attended Northwestern University’s School of Journalism from which she graduated in 1947.   After graduation Ruthie worked at the DM Register.

On July 31, 1948, Ruthie married Lloyd G. Jackson and lived in Iowa City while Lloyd attended Law School.  While Lloyd served in Korea, Ruthie earned her Masters Degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa.  Ruthie was a talented writer and raised her five children in Iowa.

​​Ruthie is survived by her four children:  David (Lillian) Jackson, Carrie (John) Jackson, Jeff Jackson, and James (Karen) Jackson.  Eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also survive her.  Ruthie was preceded in death by her husband Lloyd, her son Scott Jackson, and her only sister Hortense Blake.

Ruthie’s family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Geneva Manor Staff.  Ruthie lived her last four and half years at the manor.  Her days were filled with love, caring, and compassion.  Many memorable walks, Uno and Bingo games were shared with the staff, residents, and her beloved son James.

Obituary

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1950s Featured Legacies Legacies

Justine N. Fleming (BSJ55)

Justine was an avid sports fan, she closely followed the White Sox, college basketball, the Bulls and anything on ESPN.  Most recently she volunteered at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in the gift shop and enjoyed developing relationships with patients and their families.  She had a particular interest in journalism and fondly remembered her college days at Northwestern University where she met her husband.  She was very grateful in her later years for the caring assistance provided by neighbors and family friends.  She enjoyed the constant companionship of many cats, most recently her orange tabby Polly, who was with her when she passed away.
She is survived by her sons, Steven (Elise) Fleming of Denver, CO and Vincent (Elisabeth) Fleming of Reno, NV. Also sister Theresa (Robert) Krahl and niece Tracy (Andy) Desmedt.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Donald Kingsley Fleming.

Obituary