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Major survey of news consumption highlights challenges for entire industry

A sweeping, in-depth survey of the news consumption habits of Chicago-area residents by researchers at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University captures the tectonic shift to smartphone usage from television and print newspapers, and finds that half of consumers believe no one should pay for journalism.

The survey of 1,004 people, one of the largest examinations ever of news consumption habits in the Chicago area, identifies numerous notable findings. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, or 62%, said they use their smartphones to get local news all the time or often, compared to 52% who watch news on television all the time or often. Thirteen percent of respondents said they read traditional newspapers and magazines often or all the time, while only a limited number of residents (19%) pay or donate money for access to local journalism.

In one of the survey’s most significant findings, Medill’s researchers identified a lack of public awareness of the financially perilous state of local news. A majority of those surveyed (54%) believe local news outlets are doing “somewhat well” financially. Another 17% said they are doing “very well,” meaning that in total, 71% of respondents don’t know the news business is in crisis. Research by the Medill Local News Initiative has chronicled in detail the alarming pace at which news organizations under financial duress are shrinking or disappearing, creating “news
deserts” in communities across the country.

The disconnect between performance and awareness has profound implications for the future of journalism because many local newsrooms need to persuade more consumers to become paying customers for digital news to make up for weak online advertising revenue. But audiences not only don’t believe the news business is suffering, they are skeptical about who, if anyone, should pay for news. About half (51%) of Chicago-area residents said no one should pay for news. Another 27% of respondents said those who can pay should pay.

Much smaller numbers said those who read the most should pay, or everyone should pay. “The most solid pillar of local news is reader revenue, digital subscriptions, or memberships,” said Tim Franklin, Senior Associate Dean at Medill and one of the authors of the survey. “If half of people think that no one should have to pay for news, that shows the news business model has some headwinds.”

The survey, published as a 64-page report, “The Medill Survey: How the Chicago Area Gets its News,” was conducted by faculty of the Medill School with funding by the MacArthur Foundation. The authors are Medill Professor Stephanie Edgerly, Associate Dean of Research; Assistant Professor Yu Xu; along with Franklin, who is also John M. Mutz Chair in Local News and Director of the Medill Local News Initiative. NORC at the University of Chicago, on Medill’s behalf, surveyed adults throughout the 14-county metro area, including parts of southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana, via a mixture of phone and web methods. The margin of error was +/- 4.66%.

While the survey focused on the Chicago region, the results may bea microcosm of the fast-changing landscape for local news across the country. The study’s goal was to examine the current state of the public’s interest in and reliance on local news, as well as readership, viewership and listenership habits. The survey also explored other views on journalism, including motivations for consuming news and attitudes related to the trustworthiness of reporters to perform their roles well.

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

The public generally remains engaged in following news events. About half (53%) of adults consume local news once or multiple times a day.

There are strong generational differences in reader interest, with almost two-thirds (62%) of adults ages 60+ consuming local news once or multiple times daily, compared to just 39% of people ages 18-29.

The generational difference is also profound for television viewership: While 66% of adults 60+ watch local TV news daily, that number drops to only 22% for 18-29 year-olds.

Chicago-area consumers are fairly positive about what they consume. About half (53%) trust local news media to get things right, a higher portion than found nationally (44%), according to a different study of local news.

While most respondents (85%) have never met a local journalist, 43% said they were interested in attending a meet-and-greet with local reporters.

A principal goal of the study is to give news organizations, journalists, philanthropists, scholars and other interested parties a better understanding of consumers’ behaviors. “Armed with these insights, key stakeholders can explore new pathways to better meet the public’s news needs and explore new business models to support the local journalism our communities need,” Edgerly said.

While the Medill report confirms the impact of technological change on local news consumption habits, it also suggests that some basic assumptions by journalists and civic leaders about how the public values local news may no longer be true. Industry leaders have made passionate arguments in defense of financially struggling newspapers, warning that democratic traditions are at stake because journalists are watchdogs of public interest whose work binds citizens to
communities. But that perspective isn’t widely recognized.

The survey found that the main reason people said they consume local news and information is to meet the needs of everyday life. Specifically, 60% of respondents consume news because it “helps me save and manage money,” while 52% consume news because it “helps me stay healthy.” Far down the list are “helps me feel connected to my community” (15%) as well as “helps me take action to address issues I care about” (12%) and “helps me stay informed to be a better citizen” (10%).

“The big push by philanthropy and policymakers right now to provide money for local news is in a democracy framework: More robust local news helps improve the democratic institutions of a community and the country,” Franklin said. “This survey suggests that message isn’t taking hold with the public yet and there’s more work to do to make the public aware of what’s at stake with the loss of local news. While we as journalists attach altruistic reasons for our work and why people come to local news, many of them are tuning in or reading in a transactional way.”

The report includes a conclusion urging stakeholders with an interest in a free and vigorous press to play a role in elevating local news at a moment when it is under siege. The report also features a brief history of Chicago journalism to offer further perspective on the important findings of the survey.

“How the Chicago Area Gets Its News” is a product of the Medill Local News Initiative, a research and development project aimed at bolstering the sustainability of local news.

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Medill’s Fight to Save Local News

Local and regional newspapers, many of them more than 100 years old, going out of business. Broadcast media shrinking. Online startups folding after blowing through millions of dollars in initial funding. And throughout the industry, journalists losing jobs.

In recent years, through its Local News Initiative, the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications has gone beyond its traditional role of undergraduate and graduate education, launching a number of outreach programs to assist media professionals in combating the industry’s troubling trends and to help high schools educate young journalists.

“The role of the modern journalism school cannot simply be the training of future journalists and marketers. The industries that we serve are in such turmoil that if our students are to have jobs, to have industries to go into, those industries need leadership, research and someone from outside the industry to help them think outside of the box and chart a path forward,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “So it’s in our vested interest to step outside of what our traditional role was and provide the leadership, the innovation, the creative thinking to enable these organizations and entities to continue. Otherwise, if they implode and cease to function, there will be no place for our students to go.”

This special edition of the Medill magazine takes a look at the Local News Initiative and its outreach programs.

If you want to know the state of journalism in the U.S. today, your best source is the website of Medill’s Local News Initiative, localnewsinitiative.northwestern.edu.

From the sobering info contained in an annual report on the state of local news to success stories that illustrate what’s working, the site provides an up-to-date look at the journalism industry. But for those willing to drill a bit deeper, the site also details the pathbreaking work of the Local News Initiative, a key project of Medill.

Founded in 2017, the LNI is an innovative research and development project with the goal of reinventing the relationship between news organizations and audiences while developing new approaches to local news business models. The LNI is led by Professor Tim Franklin, Senior Associate Dean and John M. Mutz Chair in Local News and Director of the Medill Local News Initiative. Franklin came to Medill from the Poynter Institute after a distinguished career in which he served as the top editor of The Indianapolis Star, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun.

“A goal of the Local News Initiative is to do what Medill and a university can uniquely do: impactful research about the
local news industry and local news audiences,” Franklin said.

Unquestionably the most visible product of the LNI has been its annual report on the state of local news, which is led by Visiting Professor Penny Abernathy. The 2023 report, which came out last November, garnered headlines across the country with its grim finding that the U.S. was losing 2.5 local newspapers a week and that 204 counties now have no access or very limited access to local news — “news deserts.” In addition, using metrics developed by Medill’s data scientists, researchers and faculty members, the report identified another 228 counties at risk of becoming news deserts.

However, the report, the LNI website, and the LNI itself now also shine a light on local news bright spots, those media outlets that are succeeding in attracting audiences, doing high-quality journalism — and even making money — in today’s challenging media environment. Creating more of those successes is also a key goal of the LNI.

“We want people to know the challenges around local news — and they are considerable — but we also want to be inspiring new ideas to help local news outlets figure out new business models going forward. And we want to work directly with news organizations to help them become sustainable over the long term,” Franklin said.

To do that, the LNI has created or expanded a number of programs aimed at bolstering local news (see related stories on following pages). While a number of the programs are focused on the Chicago area, the LNI’s research and work includes news organizations across the U.S. The Medill Subscriber Engagement Index, done in conjunction with the Spiegel Research Center, includes more than 100 news organizations from across the country and provides local digital readership and benchmarking data to new outlets big and small for free.

In doing so, Medill hopes to develop models for local news that, while probably different from what media have done in the past, will enable journalism to continue to benefit society, said Dean Charles Whitaker.

“Is that possible? I absolutely think it’s possible. Do I think we’re going to save local news as it has traditionally existed? No. But the goal is to determine what local news and journalism should look like in the rest of the 21st century,” Whitaker said.

“The goal is to preserve vehicles of information that will function as a way for our communities to see themselves, that will serve as another pillar of democracy that will be a bulwark against authoritarianism,” Whitaker added. “I’m agnostic about what form that takes, I just want us to help figure out what that form is. The goal is to ensure local
news, a reliable source of credible information that citizens can turn to, that we can agree upon and that is trusted by everyone, in order to preserve democracy.”

Support for the Local News Initiative and the launch of its programs has come from major grants from the McCormick Foundation, Knight Foundation, Lilly Endowment, other foundations and significant gifts from John Mutz (BSJ57, MSJ58) and Mark Ferguson (BSJ80). Medill now is seeking additional funding from other organizations and from alumni.

After an initial grant of $300,000 from the Lilly Endowment and the Mutz gift, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation made a grant of $1 million in 2019 and then followed up with a $2.4 million grant in 2022 to launch the Local
News Accelerator.

In addition to Lilly and McCormick, the Local News Initiative has received grants and gifts from the Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Microsoft, Google, SNPA Foundation, Myrta Pulliam Charitable Trust and the KAS USA Foundation.

In 2017, Mutz contributed $250,000 to help launch the Local News Initiative and then followed up with a $2 million gift in 2020 to endow a professorship in local news. Tim Franklin,

Medill’s senior associate dean and professor, is the John M. Mutz Chair in Local News and the Director of the Local News Initiative.

While a student at Medill, Mutz worked on the copy desk at the Indianapolis News. However, he did not go into journalism, entering politics after a short stint in public relations. He served in the Indiana legislature and was elected lieutenant governor of the state before then going into private business and philanthropy. He was the president of PSI Energy, the largest utility in Indiana, and then headed the Lilly Endowment Inc., one of the world’s largest private foundations. Two of Mutz’s children and two of his grandchildren also graduated from Northwestern.

“One of the things that the Lilly Endowment did when I was president was to encourage the creation of community foundations and we eventually seeded enough community foundations in every county in Indiana. That involvement, as well as running for office, made it crystal clear to me how important a reliable, sustainable — and I might say profitable — local news source is for a community,”
Mutz said.

To make a gift or for more information on how to support the Local News Initiative programs, contact Kyle Daniels, associate director of development, at kyle.daniels@northwestern.edu or 847.467.3736.

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Unlocking Social Impact: The Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI)

Have you heard of the Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI)?

If not, it’s time to get acquainted with this powerhouse of impact-driven marketing right here at Northwestern University.

With more than 100 students and 15 clients, this year CMI has the largest cohort of students involved. 

What is CMI?

CMI isn’t just any student-run committee; it’s a force for good in the community. Since its founding in 2008, CMI has been dedicated to providing pro-bono marketing services for non-profit organizations in the Chicago area. Led by graduate students in Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications program, CMI leverages classroom knowledge to tackle real-world challenges faced by non-profits.

What Does CMI Do?

From brand strategy to digital marketing and public relations, CMI offers a wide range of services aimed at amplifying the voices of non-profits. By partnering with organizations like the American Legion, Lambs Farm and Openlands, CMI helps them extend their reach and deepen their impact within the community.

In 2023, CMI made waves with its transformative work for Sarah’s Circle, a nonprofit organization with a mission of serving women who are homeless or in need of a safe space in Chicago. By redesigning marketing materials and crafting an innovative social media strategy, CMI elevated Sarah’s Circle’s brand and bolstered its donor relationships, leaving a lasting impact on the organization and the lives it touches.

CMI is currently collaborating with Lambs Farm, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, on a transformative rebranding project. With a focus on dispelling misconceptions and elevating awareness of its mission, Lambs Farm seeks to transition to “The Lambs” and revamp its branding across various touchpoints. CMI’s role involves crafting a comprehensive marketing strategy, developing rebranding content and conducting a social media audit to support Lambs Farm in communicating its impact effectively to the community. 

Meet the Minds Behind CMI

Behind CMI’s success are the dedicated individuals who drive its mission forward. From program management to client partnerships and communications, CMI’s executive board is a diverse team of passionate IMC graduate students committed to making a difference.

“The CMI Team for 2024 is working on a range of causes from education to veteran welfare. Our student teams are extremely passionate and hoping to make a difference wherever possible. Small steps, together, will ensure large impact.” – Anoushka Jaipuria, CMI Program Director ’24.

“Being part of CMI means turning passion into purpose. Every project is an opportunity to make a difference, to amplify voices, and to leave a lasting impact.” – Laila Sofia Garza Kamar, CMI 2024 External Communications Director ’24.

Connect with CMI

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/cause-marketing-initative-northwestern-medill/

Instagram: @medillcmi

Website:  https://cmi.medill.northwestern.edu/

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Medill Announces New Bay Area Alumni Club Leadership Board

Medill welcomes three alumni to serve as board members of the new-and-improved Medill Club of the Bay Area.  Maria Hunt (BSJ90) and Carly Schwartz (BSJ07) and Chanel Vargas will provide expert guidance and local assistance with programming, including local events and communications.

As Medill continues to grow its presence in San Francisco and more students are spending time in Northwestern’s satellite campus at 44 W. Montgomery, we hope to expand our alumni programming thematically – and geographically. With the Covid exodus from downtown still echoing, we will be looking to host events outside of central San Francisco, where many Medillians reside and work.

We need your help. If you have an idea for an outing or event, please post a note to the Medill Club of the Bay Area Facebook page or send an email to me at b-clarke@northwestern.edu and I’ll share with the board.

Similarly, if you are willing to speak to, or better yet, host students at your company, we are always looking for off-site opportunities for both our journalism and integrated marketing communications students.

More about our new club leaders:

Maria is a California-based journalist, brand content strategist and author with two book credits: “The Bubbly Bar” and “Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West.”

While earning her degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Maria learned about designing and managing high end culinary events, fine French and Italian wines and the art of bartending. These experiences prepared Maria for a career as an award-winning food journalist and restaurant critic at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In the Bay Area, Maria has created successful content and social media marketing programs to drive revenue and engagement for brands including Houzz, Rodan + Fields, and One Medical.  She designs cultural and educational events for Northwestern University alumni and students, as well as writing cultural stories for The Guardian, Dwell, OLTRE, Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Esquire. Maria shares her wine and food adventures, new recipes and pairing ideas on her website, the bubblygirl.com and on Instagram @thebubblygirl.

Carly is a writer, editor, and media entrepreneur with nearly two decades of experience as a professional storyteller. She’s currently a consultant with Google’s moonshot division, and she served as editor in chief of the San Francisco Examiner and founding editor of HuffPost’s SF bureau. Her writing has appeared in Quartz, VICE News, GOOD magazine, San Francisco magazine, and Burning Man’s Black Rock Beacon, among other outlets, and Editor & Publisher magazine named her one of ten “women to watch” in 2021. Her first book, a memoir about her adventures overcoming addiction and depression while living in two very different communes, will be released later this year. She lives in San Francisco’s Mission District with her best friend, a three-year-old Boston terrier named Nacho.

Chanel is a journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2017, Chanel served as a breaking news writer in Hearst Digital Media’s New York office. Following her stint in NYC, Chanel returned home to California and carved out her beat in the wellness and entertainment space. Her work can be found in various publications including POPSUGAR, Well + Good, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Elle, SELF, Town & Country, Bustle, and more. When she’s not writing and reporting, Chanel loves taking long nature walks, exploring the SF food scene, reading novels, and performing improv comedy with her house team.

Want to help with events and club programming? E-mail b-clarke@northwestern.edu. 

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12 Writers Accepted for Inaugural George R.R. Martin Summer Workshop

Twelve writers have been accepted into the inaugural George R.R. Martin Summer Intensive Writing Workshop at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The workshop will take place in Evanston in July.

Medill received almost 400 workshop applications from accomplished journalists around the world. The inaugural group of twelve fellows includes Pulitzer Prize, Peabody and Emmy Award winners, and journalists who have reported from war zones around the world, covered politics, food, classical music, religion, and more. They hail from the United States, England, Malaysia, and South Korea.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more talented and passionate group of writers for our inaugural workshop,” said Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, senior lecturer and George R.R. Martin Chair in Storytelling. “Many are journalists who have wanted to write their first novel for years — several have toiled away on them in their spare time while working as full-time journalists.”

Over the course of the seven-day workshop, fellows will attend craft-focused classes on the various aspects of writing a novel, workshop their book chapters with instructors who are award-winning novelists themselves, attend firesides with visiting authors, have the opportunity to meet literary agents, and also have concentrated writing time.

“Medill is thrilled to be helping these journalists craft their first fiction stories,” Tan said. “We look forward to helping them share their debut novels with the world.”

Participants include:

Honey Ahmad

honey_ahmad_150x200.jpgAhmad is a Malaysian screenwriter, podcaster and food journalist. She was on the writing team for Emmy-nominated “Saladin,” Malaysia’s first fully-animated series. She has written and produced over 8,000 hours of food content, including a food drama series called “I Eat KL,” which the Asian Wall Street Journal called “a mouth-watering soap opera.” Ahmad’s first film that she co-wrote, “Motif,” featured a female cop on the trail of a small-town murder. She reimagined Walinong Sari into an animation short which has won film fest awards in LA, New York, Mexico, Chile and Japan. She also hosts the “Two Book Nerds Talking” podcast.

Lisa Armstrong

lisa_armstrong_150x200.jpgArmstrong is an award-winning journalist and professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported from several countries, including Sierra Leone, Kenya and the Philippines, and reported from Haiti from 2010 to 2014, through grants from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and NYU. She has been featured on NPR and the BBC, discussing rape in the camps in Haiti and HIV/AIDS in the aftermath of the earthquake. Armstrong’s work has been published in The Intercept, the New Yorker and other outlets. She has produced and directed documentaries, including one for CBS News about the role that poor mental health care provided by for-profit companies has played in an increase in suicides in state prisons. She directed a documentary about a young man who was incarcerated in an adult prison when he was 16, which was featured in the Social Impact track at SXSW.

Tara Bahrampour

tara_bahrampour_150x200.jpg

Bahrampour was a staff writer from 2004 to 2023 at The Washington Post, where she covered beats including immigration, education, aging and demography, and reported on war and political upheaval in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Republic of Georgia. She also has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure and other publications, and has taught journalism at New York University and at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs in Tbilisi. Bahrampour is the author of “To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America,” a memoir about growing up in Iran, fleeing the Islamic revolution as a child and returning as an adult. Prior to becoming a journalist, she wrote short stories and vowed to one day return to fiction. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Ernabel Demillo (MSJ93)

ernabel_demillo_150x200.jpgDemillo hosts and reports for CUNY-TV’s Emmy-award winning “Asian American Life.” Her work has received multiple awards, including an Emmy in 2020 for her short documentary on a Philippine-based feeding program. Prior, she spent a decade as a reporter and anchor on the Emmy-award winning FOX-5 morning news show, “Good Day New York.” Demillo was a reporter for the Orange County Newschannel in California and the CBS-affiliate in Sacramento. She is also a tenured journalism professor at Saint Peter’s University and now serves as chair of the Department of Communication and Media Culture. Demillo is the recipient of a grant from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium in partnership with Slice of Culture to help fill the void of local news in Hudson County, New Jersey. She received her BA in Journalism and International Relations from the University of Southern California and her MSJ from Medill in 1993.

Monica Eng

monica_eng_150x200.jpgEng is an award-winning, veteran Chicago reporter. She has worked in Chicago journalism for more than three decades starting at the Chicago Sun-Times and moving to the Chicago Tribune and WBEZ. She has served as an Axios Chicago reporter since the summer of 2021. Eng’s great-grandfather came to Chicago in 1911 and opened Chinese restaurants that served as the inspiration for her first attempt at fiction.

Angie Jaime (BSJ11)

angie_jaime_150x200.jpgJaime is the youngest daughter in a tight-knit family, as Mexicans from Guanajuato, of Otomi and Purépecha heritage, who share a legacy of post-colonialism and migration. She is a graduate of Medill whose work has been published by Teen Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, Vice, i-D and more. Most recently, she served as the first-ever Head of Creator Content for The Los Angeles Times. Through culture-shifting journalism, Jaime strives to create digital and physical spaces that are more civically engaged, accessible and reflective of the real world. Her work explores how communities at the margins survive and thrive in the Western world; and the ways cultural phenomena, art and technology can affect populations in disparate ways. Occasionally, she writes personal essays.

Anne Midgette

anne_midgette_150x200.jpgMidgette was the classical music critic of The Washington Post, where she established herself as one of the leading voices in her field. She also wrote on the visual arts and did significant work on #MeToo. Before the Post, she became the first woman to write classical music reviews on a regular basis for The New York Times where she contributed reviews and features on music and theater. A graduate of Yale University, Midgette started her career as a journalist during the 11 years she lived in Germany. She is co-author of “The King and I,” a candid book about Luciano Pavarotti written with his manager, Herbert Breslin, and “My Nine Lives,” written with the pianist Leon Fleisher, who lost the use of his right hand and then regained it three decades later. She is working on a historical novel about the woman who built pianos for Beethoven.

Anna Lekas Miller

anna_lekasmiller_150x200.jpgLekas Miller is a journalist who began her work in Palestine, covering daily life under Israel’s occupation for The Daily Beast, before moving to Lebanon—and then Turkey and Iraq—to cover the Syrian civil war, the refugee exodus to Europe and the rise and fall of the Islamic State for Vanity Fair, Deutsche Welle and other publications. Her favorite stories center around love and romance, particularly the ones that show the way that love can flourish in even the darkest places. Her first book, “Love Across Borders,” is a collection of real-life love stories of people who have been displaced by conflict and separated by borders, fighting for their happily ever after in a world that is divided by passports and papers. She plans to write a novel that follows the emotional journey of a young Palestinian journalist navigating life in London while still being tied to the Middle East.

Tracy Mumford

tracy_mumford_150x200.jpgMumford is a writer and podcast producer, currently bouncing between Minnesota and places closer to an ocean. She started in public radio and now produces a morning news show with The New York Times audio team. Her work in various mediums has won a Peabody Award — and fourth place at the Minnesota State Fair quilt competition (category 205). During the pandemic, Mumford sculpted eight wire-and-mortar tentacles bursting out of her front yard; they’re still standing. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Robert Pierre

robert_pierre_150x200.jpgPierre’s work centers the voices and lived experience of people and communities that have been historically marginalized. A former reporter and editor at The Washington Post, he was the initial impetus behind the 2006 groundbreaking series and later book, “Being A Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril.” He was on the Metro reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre in 2007. Pierre is the co-author of “A Day Late and A Dollar Short: High Hopes and Deferred Dreams in Obama’s ‘Post-Racial’ America.” He owns Bald Cypress Media and has provided media solutions to clients including UNCF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Pierre has taught at Dillard University, Georgetown University and Howard University. Pierre graduated from Louisiana State University.

Mike Rezendes

mike_rezendes_150x200.jpgRezendes is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist with the global investigations team at The Associated Press. His recent work includes an examination of child sex abuse in the Mormon Church and financial corruption in the Catholic Church. Rezendes is also a television writer, a screenwriter and a biographer. He is currently at work on a biography of the late Jimmy Breslin, the legendary New York reporter who gave voice to the powerless and helped create the New Journalism. Previously, he worked for The Boston Globe Spotlight Team where he shared two Pulitzer Prizes, one for revealing the cover-up of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and one for covering the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Rezendes was running the marathon when the bombs exploded and worked into the night covering the tragedy. In 2015, Rezendes was played by Mark Ruffalo in the Academy Award-winning movie, “Spotlight.”

Josh Smith

josh_smith_150x200.jpgSmith is Reuters’ bureau chief in Seoul, where he oversees a team of more than 20 journalists covering both South and North Korea. He joined Reuters in 2016 in Afghanistan, then moved to Seoul amid the “fire and fury” of 2017. Smith went on to cover the Trump-Kim summits, lead a rare reporting trip to Pyongyang, and reveal the scale of North Korea’s pandemic border walls. First arriving in Kabul for the military affairs newspaper Stars and Stripes in 2013, Smith spent nearly five years chronicling the West’s attempts to extricate itself from the conflict and the increasing toll on the Afghan population. He has also reported on security affairs from Russia, Europe, Central Asia and Iraq, where he accompanied Shi’ite militias to the frontlines of the battle against Islamic State militants, and in 2019 he reported on the Hong Kong protests, including from inside the occupied Polytechnic University.

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Medill Hall of Achievement 2024

Seven alumni joined the 2024 Hall of Achievement class at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. This is the highest honor Medill bestows on its graduates.

“These seven individuals have distinguished themselves with exceptional accomplishments in their fields, from media to top brands to government,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “It is a pleasure to be able to recognize their impressive contributions with induction into the Hall of Achievement.”

Jonathan Eig (BSJ86)

150x200-jonathan-eig.jpgEig is the author of six books, four of them New York Times best sellers. His most recent book, published in 2023, “King: A Life” won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and has been longlisted for the National Book Award and named one of the best books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine. “King: A Life” also recently garnered the New-York Historical Society’s annual Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History, endowing Eig with the title of American Historian Laureate.

In addition, Eig’s previous work, “Ali: A Life,” won a 2018 PEN America Literary Award and his debut book “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig” received the Casey Award. Eig’s fourth book, “The Birth of the Pill,” will soon be staged as a theatrical production by TimeLine Theatre in Chicago.

Eig worked for his hometown newspaper, The Rockland County (N.Y.) Journal News at age 16 and went on to report for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Dallas Morning News, Chicago Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

He’s appeared on the Today Show, NPR’s Fresh Air, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Eig served as a producer on the PBS documentary Muhammad Ali, directed by Ken Burns. Eig has spoken at the National Cathedral, the Apollo Theater and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Eig was a “Cherub” in the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute before enrolling at Medill.

Lisa Franchetti (BSJ85)

150x200-lisa-franchetti-updated.jpgAdm. Lisa Franchetti assumed the duties as Chief of Naval Operations Nov. 2, 2023. She is the first woman to serve as Chief Naval Officer and the first woman to serve as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She was the second woman promoted to four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.

Franchetti is a surface warfare officer who received her commission in 1985 through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Program at Northwestern.

Her personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Defense Superior Service Medal, five awards of the Legion of Merit, six awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, four awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Franchetti’s operational tours include auxiliaries officer and first division officer on USS Shenandoah (AD 44); navigator and jumboization coordinator onboard USS Monongahela (AO 178); operations officer on USS Moosbrugger (DD 980); combat systems officer and chief staff officer for Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2; executive officer of USS Stout (DDG 55); and assistant surface operations officer on USS George Washington Strike Group. She commanded USS Ross (DDG 71) and DESRON-21, embarked on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). She also served as commander of Pacific Partnership 2010, embarked on USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

Ashore, Franchetti’s assignments include commander, Naval Reserve Center Central Point, Oregon; aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; protocol officer for the commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; 4th Battalion officer at the U.S. Naval Academy; division chief, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation, on the Joint Staff, J7; deputy director of International Engagement and executive assistant to N3/N5 on the Navy staff; and military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.

Her flag officer assignments include commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea; commander, Carrier Strike Group 9; commander, Carrier Strike Group 15; chief of staff, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5) Joint Staff; commander, U.S. 6th Fleet/commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO/deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa; deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development, N7; director for Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5), Joint Staff; and Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Joe Fryer (BSJ00)

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A decade into his tenure at NBC News, Fryer works both in the traditional TV side of the business, and in the streaming world.

He anchors the morning hours of NBC News NOW, the network’s fast-growing streaming platform. He’s also the feature anchor of “Saturday TODAY,” where he hosts PopStart and other segments on the weekend show. His reporting is featured regularly on TODAY, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC.

Fryer joined the network in 2013 and spent seven years as a Los Angeles-based correspondent before moving to New York in 2020.

At NBC, Fryer also teaches writing classes within the network and developed a storytelling course for NBCU Academy, a multiplatform training and development program. He is a faculty member of the NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop, a weeklong annual event hosted by the National Press Photographers Association.

Prior to joining NBC, Fryer reported for several local stations including KING-TV in Seattle, KARE-TV in Minneapolis and WTVF-TV in Nashville. Early in his career, he also worked at WKYT-TV in Lexington, Ky. and WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wis.

Upon graduating from Medill, Fryer received the Gary Cummings Memorial Award.

During his career, he has been honored with four national Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for writing. Further, he has won 19 regional Emmys, 11 regional Murrows, two National Headliners and three Sigma Delta Chi Awards.  At the network level, he has been nominated for four national Emmys. In 2022, he was named “Journalist of the Year” by the Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists (NLGJA) and won a GLAAD Media Award for his reporting on HIV/AIDS.

Kimberley Crews Goode (BSJ87)

150x200-kimberley-goode.jpgGoode serves as the chief communications and social impact officer of BMO where she leads communications, media relations, government affairs and community engagement.

Prior to joining BMO, Goode served leadership roles for companies including American Express, Prudential Financial, Kellogg Company, Northwestern Mutual and Blue Shield of California. She has helped organizations through milestones such as Y2K, global mergers and a vaccine rollout for California. As a corporate executive, she has been recognized as one of the Most Influential Women and among the Top 100 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America by Savoy magazine and as an Outstanding Woman in Marketing and Communications by Ebony magazine.

Goode started her career as a journalist for the Grand Rapids Press and earned induction into the PR Week Hall of Fame for her work in strategic communications. She also was named Communicator of the Year for the International Association of Business Communicators.

Goode has championed diversity in PR through her work in the Page Society, a professional association for the highest ranking leaders in the field. She served as a member of the board for many years, led diversity programs and mentored women and people of color who are now leading communications for global organizations.

Goode leverages her expertise to help organizations manage reputation through board service. She serves as a corporate director for Providence Health Plan and sits on several nonprofit boards, including the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, which is one of the largest awards for women authors in North America.

Michael Lazerow (BSJ96, MSJ96)

150x200-michael-lazerow.jpgLazerow is an entrepreneur who co-founded Buddy Media, a software company that was acquired by Salesforce.com for $745 million, where he served as chief strategy officer. He has invested in more than 100 early-stage companies, including Facebook, Scopely and Liquid Death.

Lazerow has received awards and honors, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young, Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, #1 on the Silicon Alley 100, and the Ad Age Digital A-List.

Currently Lazerow is a co-founder and general partner of Velvet Sea Ventures, a multi-stage venture capital firm that provides seed-to-growth stage capital investments and strategic support.

As a philanthropist, he and his wife Kass established the Kass and Michael Lazerow Family Foundation and were recognized with the Game Changer Award by Cycle for Survival for their leadership in helping to raise more than $350 million for breakthrough cancer research programs. The couple was also awarded the Leader of the Future Award by the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute.

Lazerow is a long-time member of Medill’s Board of Advisers.

Jerry Tarde (BSJ78)

150x200-jerry-tarde.jpgTarde is the chairman and editor-in-chief of Golf Digest and global head of golf strategy and content for Warner Bros. Discovery. Tarde became an intern at Golf Digest in 1977 and was named editor in 1984 and is now the longest serving chief editor in media.

Tarde was given a Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association for his journalism on discrimination in private clubs. He also received lifetime achievement awards from the PGA of America, Augusta National Golf Club, the National Golf Foundation and the Metropolitan (N.Y.) Golf Association. He earned nine first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, including for best column four times in the five years between 2018 to 2023.

The Jerry Tarde Courage Award in his name is given annually by the African American Golf Expo to an industry leader for commitment to people of color in golf. Tarde serves as a national trustee of The First Tee and is on the board of Planet Word, a literacy museum in Washington, D.C.

Carlos Zepeda (IMC98)

150x200-carlos-zepeda.jpgZepeda is senior vice president, Consumer Connections, Insights and Strategy for Moet Hennessy USA. He joined Moet Hennessy as vice president for Belvedere Vodka in 2014, and subsequently held some strategy and transformation roles both in marketing and enterprise-wide focused embedding the 2030 Strategy for the US market.

Prior to Moet Hennessy, he was vice president of Marketing for Havaianas, leading the expansion of the Brazilian brand in the US.

He previously held several marketing roles at PepsiCo over a span of 10 years where he led marketing for Diet Pepsi, Starbucks Frappuccino Ready-to-Drink, and customer marketing for the Foodservice division. He served as chair of Adelante, PepsiCo’s LatinX employee resource group in the US.

Earlier in his career, Zepeda held consulting positions at Ernst & Young’s Customer Connections practice and at Peppers and Rogers Group.

Zepeda a board member of ANA’s Educational Foundation and an advisory board member of Fashion Institute of Technology’s global marketing program.

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Steve Albini (BSJ85)

Reprinted from Pitchfork.com
Photo credit: Casey Mitchell

Steve Albini, an icon of indie rock as both a producer and performer, died on Tuesday, May 7, of a heart attack, staff at his recording studio, Electrical Audio, confirmed to Pitchfork. As well as fronting underground rock lynchpins including Shellac and Big Black, Albini was a legend of the recording studio, though he preferred the term “engineer” to “producer.” He recorded Nirvana’s In Utero, Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, and countless more classic albums, and remained an outspoken critic of exploitative music industry practices until his final years. Shellac were preparing to tour their first album in a decade, To All Trains, which is scheduled for release next week. Steve Albini was 61 years old.

Despite his insistence that he would work with any artist who paid his fee, Albini’s catalog as a self-described audio engineer encompasses a swath of alternative rock that is practically a genre unto itself. After early work on Surfer Rosa, Slint’s Tweez, and the Breeders’ Pod, he became synonymous with brutal, live-sounding analog production that carried palpable raw energy. His unparalleled résumé in the late 1980s and 1990s includes the Jesus Lizard’s influential early albums, the Wedding Present’s Seamonsters, Brainiac’s Hissing Prigs in Static Couture, and records by Low, Dirty Three, Helmet, Boss Hog, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Hum, Superchunk, and dozens more. His influence rang through to the next generations of rock, punk, and metal at home and abroad, many of whom he went on to produce—the likes of Mogwai, Mclusky, Cloud Nothings, Mono, Ty Segall, and Sunn O))). He also recorded enduring greats of the singer-songwriter canon: Joanna Newsom’s Ys, Nina Nastasia’s early records, and much of the Jason Molina catalog among them.

Albini was born in Pasadena, California, and lived a peripatetic childhood before his family settled in Missoula, Montana. As a teenager, his discovery of Ramones transformed what he described, to Jeremy Gordon for The Guardian, as a “normal Montana childhood” into an altogether wilder entity. In the subsequent years, while studying journalism in Illinois, he was drawn into the Chicago punk scene that his music would come to both defy and define. Albini spent his days at the record store Wax Trax, buying every record that “looked interesting” and talking to “everybody with a funny haircut,” he told NPR.

“It was an extremely active, very fertile scene where everybody was participating on every level,” Albini said of Chicago’s music scene. “The community that I joined when I came to Chicago enabled me to continue on with a life in music. I didn’t do this by myself. I did this as a participant in a scene, in a community, in a culture, and when I see somebody extracting from that rather than participating in it as a peer, it makes me think less of that person.… My participation in all of this is going to come to an end at some point. The only thing that I can say for myself is that, along the way, it was a cool thing that I participated in, and on the way out, I want to make sure that I don’t take it with me.”

He began recording as Big Black in the early 1980s, channeling antisocial, sometimes violent themes through buzzsaw riffs and histrionic barks, grunts, and whelps, at first backed only by a drum machine (which remained a constant, pounding presence) and soon joined by Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati and Santiago Durango; Dave Riley replaced Pezzati on bass for the band’s two landmark studio albums, Atomizer and Songs About Fucking. In his spare time, Albini would pen screeds in the 1980s zine Matter, admonishing bands in neighboring scenes and cementing the firebrand reputation that established him as an eminent rock grouch and refusenik.

After Big Black, Albini formed the short-lived Rapeman—a name he came to regret, despite the sardonic intent—before founding Shellac in the early 1990s, with Bob Weston and Todd Trainer. After a string of EPs through his longtime home of Touch and Go and Drag City, the band extensively toured (including an all-but-residency at Primavera Sound, the only music festival Albini was happy to play) and released five beloved albums: 1994’s At Action Park, 1998’s Terraform, 2000’s 1000 Hurts, 2007’s Excellent Italian Greyhound, and 2014’s Dude Incredible.

Albini has long been admired for sticking to his principles and questioning music industry standards, especially in the recording studio. He never took royalties from records on which he worked—including Nirvana’s In Utero, which has sold over 15 million copies—despite that being industry custom, and he kept his day rates low, especially for a producer with his pedigree. At Electrical Audio, his recording studio where he and staff members helped lay bricks in the construction process, Albini was famous for handing artists a yellow legal pad on the first day and instructing them to map out a written description of every song they were going to record. This was his way of avoiding future miscommunications and guaranteeing that artists maximized the in-studio time for which they paid. “The recording part is the part that matters to me—that I’m making a document that records a piece of our culture, the life’s work of the musicians that are hiring me,” he told The Guardian. “I take that part very seriously. I want the music to outlive all of us.”

Several bands have recounted experiences when Albini was behind the board reading a book or playing Scrabble during their recording sessions. As Albini explained it, this method helped keep his senses sharp and widened his perspective. “When I first started making records I would sit in front of the console concentrating on the music every second. I found out the hard way that I tended to fiddle with things unnecessarily and records ended up sounding tweaked and weird. I developed a couple of techniques to avoid this,” he explained in a Reddit AMA. “This has proven to be a really good threshold, so that if anything sounds weird or someone says something you immediately give it your full attention and your concentration hasn’t been ruined by staring at the speakers and straining all day.”

Throughout his career, Albini courted controversy through provocative band names (Rapeman, Run N***er Run), song titles ( “Pray I Don’t Kill You F***ot,” “My Black Ass”), and offhand statements (“I want to strangle Odd Future”). While he refused to apologize for his choice in names and jokes, in Michael Azerrad’s 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life, Albini made it clear that he believed his real stances on race, gender, LGBTQ rights, and politics were obvious. “I have less respect for the man who bullies his girlfriend and calls her ‘Ms’ than a guy who treats women reasonably and respectfully and calls them ‘Yo! Bitch,’” Albini told Azerrad. “The point of all this is to change the way you live your life, not the way you speak.”

Later in life, however, Albini repeatedly apologized for his past controversies, realizing that intent and moral clarity went only so far. “A lot of things I said and did from an ignorant position of comfort and privilege are clearly awful and I regret them. It’s nobody’s obligation to overlook that, and I do feel an obligation to redeem myself,” Albini wrote on X in 2021. “If anything, we were trying to underscore the banality, the everyday nonchalance toward our common history with the atrocious, all while laboring under the tacit *mistaken* notion that things were getting better. I’m overdue for a conversation about my role in inspiring ‘edgelord’ shit. Believe me, I’ve met my share of punishers at gigs and I sympathize with anybody who isn’t me but still had to suffer them.” He talked in depth about his regrets with The Guardian, MEL Magazine, and others.

Amid all of his ongoing work, Albini was a remarkable poker player. In 2022, he won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet after beating 773 other players in the $1,500 entry H.O.R.S.E. competition for a huge prize of $196,089. While most players dressed in button-up shirts and plain tees, Albini wore a furry, white hat shaped like a bear and a red Jack O’ Nuts shirt, saying the Athens noise-rock musicians “bring me luck.” He won another WSOP gold bracelet in 2018 for beating 310 players in seven card stud to the tune of $105,629. Back then, he was wearing a Cocaine Piss shirt during the big win. He had a massive grin on his face in the photos documenting both wins.

When asked how his career would be regarded if he ever retired, Albini told The Guardian, “I don’t give a shit. I’m doing it, and that’s what matters to me—the fact that I get to keep doing it. That’s the whole basis of it. I was doing it yesterday, and I’m gonna do it tomorrow, and I’m gonna carry on doing it.”

https://pitchfork.com/news/steve-albini-storied-producer-and-icon-of-the-rock-underground-dies-at-61/

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Roderick S.A. Oram (MSJ75)

As published in the New Zealand Herald:

Longtime financial and climate journalist Rod Oram was much loved and respected in the local business and media community.

Oram, who was a journalist for more than 40 years, died on Tuesday afternoon, after having a heart attack while cycling last weekend.

He was the inaugural editor of the Business Herald when it was launched as a distinct unit in 1997.

Born in the United Kingdom, Oram spent 20 years as an international financial journalist in Europe and North America, and travelled extensively in those continents and in Asia.

From 1975 to 1979, he held various journalist positions in Canada and from 1979, until joining the New Zealand Herald, he held a variety of posts at the Financial Times in London and New York City.

Fran O’Sullivan, NZME’s senior business correspondent and a longtime colleague and friend of Oram, recalled his passion for his work.

“I first met Rod Oram when I travelled to London on a Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarship in the early 1990s. I was then editor of National Business Review – he was city editor at the Financial Times,” she recalled.

“His bubbling enthusiasm was contagious – right from the start. I like to think I also excited him with the derring-do that was possible in New Zealand business journalism at that time; particularly on the investigative front.

“We next met when Ivan Fallon was headhunting business journalists to join Wilson and Horton (predecessor of NZME) to launch the Business Herald. Rod set out to create the Business Herald as – what he used to call – a ‘beacon of hope’ for top-notch journalism in New Zealand.

“I will never forget his opening gambit – ‘well hello” – down the phone, as he navigated the frustrations of leading a team within a general newspaper environment as opposed to a dedicated financial newspaper.

“He ultimately left the Herald and became a brand in his own right – specialising in particular in the climate sphere.

“But he never lost that contagious enthusiasm – whether it was talking about his plan to reach 100 (sadly not to be); his great bike adventures across central Asia, travelling to the COP meetings under his own steam or talking about the family he cherished. Agree with him or not, he is a great loss to civil discourse in this country. He will be missed.”

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B.F. Helman (BSJ69)

BF (Bernard Frederick) Helman died peacefully Friday, Mar. 29, in suburban St. Louis, after a long illness. He was 76.

Actor, poet, writer, film expert and enthusiastic observer of politics, BF was truly a Renaissance man, with sharp wit and endless curiosity.

He was born in Granite City, IL, where his parents owned and operated a popular women’s clothing store, Helman’s.

He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a concentration in advertising followed by an advanced degree in Communications at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

BF held several positions in Chicago but his passion was the theater. He had numerous stage roles, and extensive on camera and voice over work, locally and nationally. He appeared in commercials and high profile corporate projects. A long time specialty was dramatic and comedic roles in syndicated radio dramas and programs.

BF’s passion project above all others was the Defiant Theatre Company in Chicago, where he acted and supported the group in countless other ways.

After more than 40 years, BF grew tired of the cruel Chicago winters and endless urban chaos. He relocated to St. Louis where he spent his last 10 years. He acted in Community Theater and actively participated in ROMEO groups, “really old guys eating out.”

His extended family in St. Louis, including his closest friend the late Barry Freedman, made sure BF was on the guest list for holidays and important occasions.

His friend group, locally and around the country, supported him during his illness: Johnny Heller, Don Rubin, Barbara Weiner, Allen Levin, Marshall Dyer, Barry Murov, Hedy Ehrlich, Ava Ehrlich and a close group of cousins.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Morris and Reeva Helman. He is survived by his brother Howard Helman (Phyllis), of Redondo Beach, CA, numerous cousins and theater friends all over the country.

https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/st-louis-mo/bf-helman-11748492

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Marjorie L. Greenberger (BSJ45)

Marjorie Livingston Greenberger, 100, passed away peacefully in her home in Corvallis, Oregon on March 13th. She is survived by her beloved children and grandchildren: Ellen Parker, Joseph Greenberger, Michael Greenberger, and Ann Greenberger; she was the grandmother of Andrew Parker and Lily Parker; great-grandmother of Hollis June Parker. Marjorie is predeceased by her husband Dr. Maurice Greenberger of Canton, Ohio; her brother Clifford Livingston of Merrill, Wisconsin; and her sister Helene (Livingston) Byrns of Madison, Wisconsin.

Marjorie grew up in Merrill, Wisconsin. She attended Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, worked as a reporter, then taught English at Merrill High School. Marjorie married Dr. Maurice Greenberger and moved to Canton, Ohio where they raised their four children. She earned a Master’s degree in English from the University of Akron and taught for many years in their English Department.

Throughout her life, Marjorie’s siblings and their families gathered for summers on Merrill’s Lake Pesobic. Marjorie returned to the home that was always close to her heart and lived in Merrill for another 15 years before moving to Oregon to be near her children and grandchildren.

Marjorie was a gardener, avid reader, chocolate lover, and supported local libraries. She will always be remembered for her intelligence, gentle nature, and love for her family.

Condolences may be sent in care of: Fisher Funeral Home, 306 SW Washington Street, Albany, Oregon 97321.

The family suggests memorial donations to T.B. Scott Free Library or Merrill Historical Society.

https://www.fisherfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Marjorie-Livingston-Greenberger?obId=31109375