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Medill Alums Win 2020 Pulitzer Prizes – Individual and Teams

Congratulations to Medill alumnus Brian M. Rosenthal (BSJ11) of The New York Times on receiving the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for his work on the New York City taxi industry. His reporting found that drivers had been the victim of predatory lending resulting in nearly a thousand bankruptcies and several suicides. His series has led to the proposal of a $500 million bailout for drivers.

Rosenthal has been an investigative reporter on the Metro desk of The New York Times since May 2017. He covered state government for The Houston Chronicle between 2014 and 2016 and for The Seattle Times between 2011 and 2013. While in Houston, he was on the team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for a series that exposed that Texas was systematically denying special education services to tens of thousands of children with disabilities. While in Seattle, he was part of a reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of a mudslide that killed 43 people. He also has won a George A. Polk Award and the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

Read Rosenthal’s comments about the win:

In addition to Rosenthal, Evan Hill (BSJ07), a member of the New York Times Visual Investigations team, was lead reporter on a New York Times investigation into the Russian bombing of Syrian civilians that won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, as well as a George Polk Award for international reporting on February 19. The Pulitzer jury recognized the Visual Investigations team for two stories that proved, for the first time, that the Russian Air Force was responsible for a series of attacks on hospitals and other civilian sites in opposition-held Syria.

Andy Wolfson, (MSJ78), a reporter in Louisville at The Courier Journal, was a member of a team that won a 2020 Pulitzer for breaking news reporting for a story about hundreds of pardons issued by a lame duck governor, including for murderers, rapists and campaign supporters.

Also honored May 4 as part of a Pulitzer-winning team was Lori Montgomery (BSJ84), now deputy national editor at The Washington Post. The Post’s staff won the Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting for a series that showed the effects of extreme temperatures to the planet (found here:

Photo Credits

Rosenthal photo:
Hill photo: Evan Hill 

Montgomery photo:

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Medill News Highlights – May 2020

Northwestern’s 2020 Commencement will be Virtual with Student Option to Return for On-Site Ceremony Next Year

Read the announcement by President Schapiro.

Presentation of the John Bartlow Martin award for public interest magazine journalism and conversation with winner

Join us as Medill’s Helen Gurley Brown Magazine Professor Patti Wolter presents the 2020 John Bartlow Martin Award to Lizzie Presser  of ProPublica for her story “The Dispossessed.” A conversation with Presser will follow. Presser is a journalist writing about inequality and how social policy is experienced. She was previously a contributing writer at The California Sunday Magazine. “The Dispossessed,” published in partnership with ProPublica and The New Yorker, is an investigation into the unjust repossession of African American-owned property through three different legal mechanisms in North Carolina. It won a George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting in 2020. Presser has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and a Livingston Award.

Register for the 5/27 Zoom presentation.

Medill team wins Best Article Award from American Academy of Advertising

Online retailers must strike a balance between recommending relevant items to users and providing sponsored recommendations from advertisers. Recognizing this problem, a team at Medill IMC’s Spiegel Research Center developed an algorithm that improves user utility while reducing ad revenue by a small amount. The team consisting of Professor Ed Malthouse, postdoctoral fellows Khadija Ali Vakeel and Yasaman Kamyab Hessary, research fellow Morana Fudurić and Professor Robin Burke from University of Colorado Boulder were recently recognized for their work, receiving the 2019 Best Article Award in the Journal of Advertising from the American Academy of Advertising. The award was instituted in 1988 to honor the best article published each year.

Read the abstract

NNN Wins SPJ Award

The Northwestern News Network (NNN)  took first place in Best Newscast category of the Region 5 SPJ student contest and will now move on to the national SPJ competition. Joey took first place General News Reporting category for a story she did as a reporter, not as an intern,  for the NBC affiliate in Bakersfield, California last summer. Region 5 comprises chapters in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Prof. Jack Doppelt Co-Produces Election Report

What began as “Can American Democracy Survive the 2020 Elections? The Role of Media, Law, Norms, and Technology in Assuring Acceptance of Election Results,” evolved to “Fair Elections During a Crisis: Urgent Recommendations in Law, Media, Politics and Tech to Advance the Legitimacy of, and the Public’s Confidence in, the November 2020 U.S. Elections.  Read a New Yorker article about the report. Read the report.

Participate in the Medill Centennial Alumni Photo Gallery          

We plan to feature testimonials and photos from 100+ alumni on our Centennial website, launching this summer.  If you want to participate, please submit your quote and photo using this form! We would love to include you.

Lightfoot photo: WBEZ 

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New York Times Reporter Azam Ahmed awarded the 2019 James Foley Medill Medal for Courage


Azam Ahmed, New York Times bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, has won the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his investigation of gang murder across Latin America. In his series “Kill, or Be Killed: Latin America’s Homicide Crisis,” Ahmed chronicled the rampant and unchecked gang violence in the region.

“No one deserves this recognition more than Azam,” said New York Times International Managing Editor Greg Winter. “He has put himself on the frontlines for years, from Afghanistan to Honduras, to document the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. He does so with compassion, exceptional insight and compelling narratives that draw readers in and remind them, in the most intimate ways, of what people around the world confront on a daily basis.”

In Mexico and Honduras, Ahmed witnessed shootouts and cartel killings. In Brazil, he tracked down police officers who were members of illegal death squads and persuaded them not just to talk, but also to confess to murders and other crimes. After nine members of a Mormon family were killed in remote Mexican mountains, Ahmed traveled to the scene and discovered evidence that had been overlooked, including spent shell casings and a child’s shoe, to create a more accurate picture of what had happened than what the authorities presented.

“Year after year as I read the entries, I think the stories can’t get any more harrowing; the world can’t get any more dangerous for journalists,” said founding judge and Medill Professor Emeritus Donna Leff (BSJ70, MSJ71). “But there seems to be no end to the violence for the subjects and peril for the reporters telling their stories. What stood out in Azam’s work was the riveting, graceful language and the vivid narrative in a deep portfolio that embraced the whole of his domain–Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.”

Ahmed spent 17 months interviewing one of Mexico’s deadliest hired killers who worked for the cartels. Ahmed exposed closely guarded secrets of the underworld, including an assassin training camp. In Honduras, Ahmed lived inside gang territory for weeks. In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, one of the deadliest cities in the world, Ahmed chronicled the siege of a neighborhood with vivid descriptions of shootouts, gang incursions and last-minute pleas to stop the killing.

“Much in the spirit of James Foley himself, Azam is a daring, gifted and skilled journalist,” said co-judge Brett Pulley (MSJ87), Bloomberg’s Atlanta bureau chief and Medill Board of Advisers member. “In story after story, he demonstrates a willingness to venture into society’s heart of darkness to illuminate the places and people who are integral to some of the globe’s most vexing issues and confounding and violent occurrences. His body of work stood tall above a field of entries that in their own right were tremendously impressive, important and powerful.”

Before moving to Mexico, Ahmed worked for nearly three years in Afghanistan covering the war there. He accompanied the Afghan security forces as they struggled to take over security from U.S. forces, and more broadly wrote about the deterioration of the United States’ longest-running war.

“As I read one arresting story after the next from Azam’s impressive portfolio, I could hardly believe this was the work of a single journalist,” said co-judge and Medill faculty member Ceci Rodgers (MSJ81). “Through his detailed reporting and his access to the inner workings of the drug gangs in Latin America, Azam opens a world to readers in a way that contextualizes the horrors driving migrants to the U.S. border to seek asylum. Beautifully crafted narratives and compelling characters draw us in and make us care.”

Honorable Mention

This year’s honorable mention also won high praise from the judges. In “Outsourcing Migration,” Associated Press reporters Maggie Michael, Lori Hinnant and Renata Brito exposed the devastating effects of restrictive European and U.S. immigration policies that have resulted in asylum-seekers being sent back to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—the very countries many of them are fleeing. The year-long project, funded in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, documented the abuse of people fleeing violence, and the benefits gained by mafia, militia and even the Libyan coast guard, which was paid by the EU to warehouse migrants.

Virtual Event

The judges will present the award to Ahmed and he will share his journey via webinar on Thursday, July 16 at 5 p.m. Central Time. Joining the event will be special guest Diane Foley, mother of Medill alumnus James Foley (MSJ08) and founder and president of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Visit this link to participate in the webinar.

About the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism 

The award is named in honor of Medill alumnus James Foley, who was captured while reporting in Syria in 2012 and killed by ISIS extremists in 2014.

The 2019 medal is given for work published during the 2019 calendar year to an individual or team of journalists, working for a U.S.-based media outlet, who best displayed moral, physical, ethical, financial or political courage in the pursuit of a story or series of stories.

The selection committee included Bloomberg’s Atlanta Bureau Chief and Medill Board of Advisers member Brett Pulley, Medill Professor Emeritus Donna Leff and Medill Director of Global Journalism Learning Ceci Rodgers.

The 2018 award was given to Max Bearak, Nairobi Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, for his reporting in 2018 from sub-Saharan Africa. Bearak’s stories from Congo, Niger and Zimbabwe chronicled a wide range of extreme events that required intense bravery in dangerous situations without being reckless or putting himself at the center of the story, said the judges, who were unanimous in their decision.


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Medill inducts Six Women into its 2020 Hall of Achievement Class

Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications welcomes six inductees into its Hall of Achievement this year. The all-female class celebrates 150 years of co-education at Northwestern. Medill’s Hall of Achievement was established in 1997 to honor Medill alumni whose distinctive careers have had positive effects on their fields.

“Northwestern’s 150 Years of Women is a celebration of catalysts — individuals who take risks, chart their own course and inspire change,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “Each of this year’s inductees is a pioneer and innovator in her field. We are honored to call them alumnae and induct them into this year’s class.”

Jeanie Caggiano (COMM82, MSA83)

Jeanie CaggianoJeanie Caggiano is an executive vice president and executive creative director at Leo Burnett Chicago. Currently, she is the lead for UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealth Group and Feeding America, among other clients. In addition to UnitedHealth, she is best known for her two Allstate campaigns: “Mayhem” and the “Our Stand” campaign featuring Dennis Haysbert. She has contributed writing to Disney, McDonald’s, Hallmark Cards, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Morgan Stanley. In February 2019, the women’s media group She Runs It (formerly Advertising Women of New York) named Caggiano a “Trailblazing Mother” at the Working Mothers of the Year awards.

A member of the 2016 Cannes Lions Outdoor Jury, Caggiano also has judged film and direction at the One Show, chaired the OBIE Awards jury, judged London International (mainline and Health & Wellness), the Facebook Awards and more.

Cindy Chupack (BSJ87)

Cindy ChupackCindy Chupack has won two Emmys and three Golden Globes as a TV writer/producer whose credits include “Sex and the City,” “Better Things,” “Divorce,” Modern Family,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and most recently, Showtime’s darkly comic hour, “I’m Dying Up Here.” In 2018, she directed her first episode of television for “I’m Dying Up Here” and her first feature, OTHERHOOD, starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman.

Chupack has written about dating and relationships for many magazines, has been published in The New York Times’ Modern Love column and is the author of two comic memoirs: “The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays” and “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife”.

Chupack grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Right after graduating from Medill, she moved to New York City to work in advertising. She sold her first humorous essay to a women’s magazine in 1990, and the piece was spotted by a TV producer who encouraged her to pursue comedy writing, which she’s been doing ever since.

Mary Dedinsky (BSJ69, MSJ70)

Mary DedinskiMary Dedinsky is the director of the journalism program and associate professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q). A long-time editor and reporter, Dedinsky was the first woman to be named managing editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. At the Sun-Times, she was also an education reporter, investigative reporter, editorial writer, metropolitan editor and director of editorial operations. For her work at the Sun-Times, she was elected to the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. She has twice served as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

After the Sun-Times, Dedinsky became associate dean and associate professor of journalism at Medill where she taught media management to graduate students and news writing to undergraduates for 10 years. She also directed the Teaching Media Program, now called Journalism Residency, in which undergraduate students work for a quarter at media outlet or communications company. She has consulted for the Associated Press and numerous newspaper companies, among other things facilitating a major reorganization of a client’s editorial staff.

Helene Elliott (BSJ77)

Helene ElliottHelene Elliott was the first female journalist to be honored by the Hall of Fame of a major professional North American sport when she was given the Elmer Ferguson award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.

She began her career at the Chicago Sun-Times and later went to Newsday before joining the Los Angeles Times, where she has worked since 1989. She has covered 16 Olympics, as well as countless Stanley Cup Finals, in addition to covering the World Series, men’s and women’s World Cup soccer tournaments, the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl and other events.

Elliott also won the Best Breaking News Story award from the Associated Press Sports Editors for her story on the labor agreement that ended the National Hockey League lockout in 2005. She became a general sports columnist in 2006.

Maudlyne Ihejirika (MSJ87)

Maudlyne IhejirikaMaudlyne Ihejirika is an award-winning Chicago Sun-Times urban affairs columnist/reporter with 30 years of experience in journalism, public relations and government. Recently named among the Power 25, an annual ranking of the 25 most powerful women in Chicago journalism, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa before attending Medill. She currently writes the Sun-Times “Chicago Chronicles,” long-form columns on “people and places that make Chicago tick.” She is the author of “Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War,” a tale of her family’s survival of the brutal Nigerian-Biafran War, and miracles that brought them to the U.S.

Ihejirika is president of both the Chicago Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter. She is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, and a member of the prestigious Council of 100 at Northwestern.

Kary Mcllwain (MSA86)

Kary McillwainAs chief marketing and communications officer for Lurie Children’s Hospital, McIlwain leads marketing for the hospital and Lurie Children’s Foundation as well as all media relations and strategic communications. Her team is responsible for all owned, earned and paid media, CRM and direct marketing efforts, annual giving physician marketing and driving awareness, preference, volume, donations, reputation and reach for the top-ranked children’s hospital.

Lurie Children’s represents a capstone on a 25 plus year career in advertising. As President and CEO of Y&R Chicago, McIlwain was responsible for the strategy and operations of a full-service digital and traditional agency. Under McIlwain’ s leadership, Y&R grew exponentially, reinvented its digital offering, created a digital content studio, revamped its creative product and was named top 10 “Creative Heavyweights” by Creativity magazine.

Medill will honor the Hall of Achievement class of 2020 in the spring of 2021 in Evanston.

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Medill selects alumnus Jeremy Gilbert as Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy

Endowed chair holder charged with leading journalism in digital age
July 6, 2020

Medill welcomes alumnus Jeremy Gilbert (BSJ00, MSJ00) as the new director of strategic initiatives at The Washington Post, as Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy.

At The Washington Post, Gilbert directed a lab dedicated to experimental storytelling that aimed to create unique digital products and stories. In 2016, he built The Post’s first artificial intelligence storytelling system, called Heliograf, which used machine generated text to expand elections and Olympics coverage. Gilbert also helped to create The Post’s first augmented and virtual reality projects — the most recent of which, 12 Seconds of Gunfire, debuted at the Tribeca film festival and won a Webby.

In his position as Knight Chair, Gilbert is tasked with creating new knowledge and advances in media strategy and exploring how new technologies can further the creation, consumption and distribution of media. The Knight Chair helps Medill graduate and undergraduate students explore how new and emerging ways of delivering news and information on digital platforms and provides hands-on, full-time instruction to undergraduate and graduate students.

“Technology continuously transforms how we tell stories—every generation and sometimes multiple times in a single generation,” said Gilbert. “I am looking forward to using my time at Medill to experiment with and explore the new techniques and approaches that will shape the next generation of media and storytellers.”

Gilbert has a long history at Northwestern and Medill. Starting as an assistant professor in 2008 before moving up to associate professor, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in interactive storytelling, multimedia presentation, user experience design, innovation projects, and journalism and technology. He also served as a faculty adviser for undergraduate students participating in Journalism Residency, Medill’s quarter-long course that allows students to work in the media industry. He was as a founding faculty member at the Knight News Innovation Lab, helped advise Design for America and the Daily Northwestern and was a core faculty member at the Segal Design Institute.

“We are very excited to have Jeremy return to the Medill faculty,” said Dean Charles Whitaker. “He is a talented teacher, a visionary news executive and an inspiring leader. His expertise in using cutting-edge technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways will build on the work that Medill is already doing with the Local News Initiative, the Knight Lab and the Bay Area Immersion Program and will help us prepare students and the industries we serve explore the challenges and possibilities of the digital frontier.”

Former Medill Dean Ken Bode was the first Knight Chair at Medill when it was established as the Knight Chair in Broadcasting in 1999 by the Knight Foundation. The focus of the chair was later changed, and, in 2009, Medill Professor Owen Youngman was named Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy—a position which he held until his retirement earlier this year.

The Knight Foundation has established endowed chairs in journalism at top universities nationwide as part of its focus on sustaining democracy by leading journalism to its best possible future in the 21st century.

“Medill student journalists will benefit from Jeremy’s work at the intersection of journalism, technology and design as they prepare to create journalism’s future,” said LaSharah Bunting, director of journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Lori Edmo selected as 2020 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient

Medill and the Native American Journalists Association have selected Lori Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock) as the 2020 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient. Edmo is editor of Sho-Ban News.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting effect on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities. It is given jointly by NAJA and Medill to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country. The annual award also includes a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to speak with Medill faculty and students to further advance the representation of Indigenous journalists.

“I am proud to continue our collaboration with NAJA in recognizing journalistic contributions of Native Americans,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “Lori is doing the important work of elevating stories of Indigenous communities, which need to be included in mainstream media.”

Edmo’s nomination was reviewed and selected by the NAJA Major Awards Selection Committee. She was selected based on the award criteria, which includes her body of journalistic work, her contributions to society, recognition from peers and the community, contributions to the advancement of Native Americans in the field of journalism, and commitment to NAJA and its values.

“Lori is an award-winning journalist who has been fearless in her reporting of tribal issues,” said Patty Loew, Medill professor and director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern. “In 2003, Lori was fired for reporting on tribal council issues leading to the removal of the chairwoman and the controversy surrounding it, which showed that she doesn’t back down from threatening situations, even in her own tribal community. Her coverage and integrity are legendary.”

Edmo has worked as the Sho-Ban News editor for more than 25 years and is a graduate of the University of Montana, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. She is a former NAJA president and served 10 years on the board of directors.

Edmo was a journalist in residence at the University of Idaho School of Communication (now known as School of Journalism and Mass Media) under a grant from the Freedom Forum. While there, she worked on a Native journalism project titled “Idaho Natives” that upper-level journalism students published.

She has also worked as copy editor for the Idaho State Journal, publications manager at the UCLA American Indian Studies Center and communications coordinator at The Museum at Warm Springs in Oregon.

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition for my work,” said Edmo. “I became a storyteller because it’s instilled in my tribal culture. I have been fortunate to spend my life learning about tribal history, my family history and culture, along with learning the Bannock language that is endangered. It’s important to tell the stories of our Nanewe (tribal people).”

Because of the interest in tribal history, in 2008 and again in 2018, the Sho-Ban News did special publications on the 140th and 150th anniversary of the Fort Bridger Treaty that both the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and Eastern Shoshone in Wyoming share. The publications featured interviews on the significance of the treaty and areas of importance to each tribe.

The Sho-Ban News has published a color magazine during the annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival every year that features stories about tribal elders, artists and related events.

Edmo also helps with tribal cultural events, specifically the Annual Return of the Boise Valley People that is conducted to help educate the public about the original people of the valley and tribal ancestors.

Edmo’s contributions to Native American journalism will be highlighted during a virtual award ceremony hosted by Medill at a date to be determined.

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Director of Sports Journalism J.A. Adande and three-time NBA champion B.J. Armstrong embark on podcast “Beyond the Last Dance”

By Grace Chang (BSJ23)

“The Last Dance” docuseries, which set ratings records on ESPN last spring, explored Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls through hours of never-before-seen footage, with interviews ranging from actress Carmen Electra to former President Barack Obama.

The show re-released on Netflix in July and has become the most watched ESPN documentary ever, also winning an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary Series.

But according to J.A. Adande (Medill ’92), the series left viewers clamoring for more.

Under a partnership between Audible and the National Basketball Association, three-time NBA champion B.J. Armstrong and Director of Sports Journalism at Medill J.A. Adande released the “Beyond the Last Dance” podcast. The podcast released on August 31, shortly after the launch of Audible’s new membership program Audible Plus.

“I never envisioned that I would still be talking about those things some 25, 30 years later, but here we are,” said Armstrong. “It’s been interesting to go back in time for a little bit and rehash some of the things or re-contextualize some of those events as they occurred.”

Armstrong is currently the executive vice president and managing executive of basketball at Wasserman, a sports marketing agency based in Los Angeles.

The podcast’s senior producer, Cher Vincent, said that “Beyond the Last Dance” expands on topics introduced in the 10 episodes of the docuseries by adding more interviews and storylines from the era.

“We kind of wanted to take away moments that we felt were ideas that were brought up in the series, but I think there was still more to explain and dig in deeper,” Vincent said. “‘The Last Dance’ wasn’t the end result. It was a starting point.”

The podcast outlines 10 themes, which parallel the 10 episodes of “The Last Dance.” Some topics the podcast will expand upon include Jordan’s competitive drive, making a “business mogul and endorsement king” out of an athlete and, most recently, the influence of foreign players like Toni Kukoč on the NBA, Adande said.

Each podcast episode follows a similar format, with an opening essay from Adande featuring interview archives, a discussion and interview co-hosted by Armstrong and a closing essay.

Adande, who covered the Bulls while writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in the early 1990s, said that what he enjoyed most about the docuseries was the interviews and the new footage. In creating the podcast, Adande wanted to draw more from the interviews, he added.

“Anytime there was something that was new for me that I learned, even though I’d been around for a lot of this firsthand, I think if it could surprise and interest me… it’ll be surprising and interesting for the audience as well,” Adande said.

Adande said while this is his first time writing and hosting a podcast, he has enjoyed the process.

Looking forward, he’s hoping the podcast continues to improve and he’s excited for the episode about athlete activism.

“The improvement as we go along — it’s noticeable to me and I think it’d be noticeable to people as well,” Adande said. “I mean we were sort of learning our way around this the first couple episodes and we really settled in.”

Originally published in the Daily Northwestern on Sept. 27, 2020:

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Cecilia Vaisman Award for Multimedia Reporters recognizes outstanding reporting on Hispanic and Latinx communities

María Inés Zamudio is the recipient of the 2020 Cecilia Vaisman Award from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Zamudio covers immigration for WBEZ, the Chicago NPR affiliate.

The Vaisman award honors an individual working in audio or video journalism who works every day to shed light on the various issues affecting Hispanic and Latinx communities inside and outside the United States and is an active member of the NAJH. It is given jointly by NAJH and Medill, and includes a $5,000 cash prize. The award is named for Medill faculty member Cecilia Vaisman who died in 2015.

“María Inés’ reporting brings to her listeners a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the Latinx and other immigrant communities in Chicago,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “These are critically important stories to bring attention to as our city and nation grapple with what it means to be a diverse and inclusive society. I’m delighted we get to honor María Inés’ work with this award that is so meaningful to Medill.”

Zamudio’s nomination was reviewed and selected by a jury of Medill and NAHJ representatives, including members of the NAHJ Chicago chapter. The award criteria was determined by the jury.

“I am honored to receive this award, and to represent the communities I report on in doing so. I love the work that I do and having that work recognized by Medill and the NAHJ is humbling,” said Zamudio. “I hope more Hispanic and Latinx communities and journalists get the recognition they deserve.”

Zamudio is an investigative journalist and part of the race, class and communities team at WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR news source. Prior to her time at WBEZ, Zamudio worked for American Public Media’s investigative team.

In 2015, Zamudio and a team of reporters from NPR’s Latino USA received a Peabody National Award for their coverage of Central American migrants. Zamudio’s story was reported from the Mexico-Guatemala border and it focused on the danger women from Central American while traveling through Mexico as they try to reach the United States.

She’s also worked for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Chicago Reporter magazine as an investigative reporter. Zamudio’s work has appeared in The Associated Press, New York Times, National Public Radio, NBC 5 Chicago, Telemundo and Univision among others.

“NAHJ is elated to celebrate María Inés Zamudio as the 2020 Vaisman award recipient,” said Hugo Balta, two-time NAHJ President. “Her service in media honors the work and legacy of Cecilia Vaisman to ensure representation of Hispanic and Latino communities in the news does not remain a monolith.”

Zamudio’s contributions will be highlighted during a virtual award ceremony hosted by Medill Nov. 11 in partnership with NAHJ.

Register for the award ceremony. 

Medill News

Stephanie Edgerly receives University’s annual Walder Award

By Lila Reynolds (BSJ19)

Stephanie Edgerly, associate professor of journalism, has been named the 19th recipient of the Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. Edgerly is a pioneer within her field, conducting research on how features of new media alter the way audiences consume news and impact political engagement.

The award, which recognizes excellence in research at Northwestern, was established in 2002 by alumnus Dr. Joseph A. Walder and is gifted annually by the University provost.

“The Walder Award recognizes the excellent research of Stephanie Edgerly,” said Provost Kathleen Hagerty. “I am pleased to present this award to such an outstanding faculty member.”

Edgerly is the second faculty member from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications to receive the Walder Award, and the first from the journalism department.

“To be included among the impressive researchers who have won the Walder Award is truly an honor,” Edgerly said. “It’s additionally meaningful to be the first journalism professor to receive the award.”

In addition to her appointment in Medill, Edgerly is a faculty associate at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research.

Edgerly’s current research focuses on how people make decisions about what is news and their strategies for verifying information on social media. Working with the U.S. Department of State, she has presented her research to government officials, journalism organizations and the public through six speaking opportunities across the world.

In past research, Edgerly has identified and made sense of “news avoiders,” a group that largely engages with alternate forms of new media, in an effort to implement strategies to engage different individuals and help them better understand the news landscape. Her findings shed light on political and civic participation among U.S. adults.

Past projects have examined the impact of funny news talk shows (like “The Daily Show”), YouTube video activism in political movements (i.e., the Occupy movement) and online news searching behavior.

Edgerly earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She received a B.A. in communication and political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Edgerly identifies the urgency to stay current and actionable as an advantage to researching media in Medill.

“What I love about being a media researcher is being able to observe a contemporary trend or behavior and saying, ‘I want to know more about that, how can I design a study about that trend?’” Edgerly said.

Edgerly is a speaker in the U.S. State Department’s International Information Program and a fellow in the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication. She also is a member of several professional associations including the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and the International Communication Association.

Joseph Walder earned his master’s degree in chemistry from Northwestern in 1972, as well as a doctoral degree in 1975. He also has established a permanently endowed professorship at Northwestern, the Irving M. Klotz Research Professorship. The complete list of award recipients can be found on the Office of the Provost website.

Originally published on Northwestern Now.

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Medill Board of Advisers adds four new members

Four leaders in the fields of journalism and marketing have joined the Medill BOA 

“Our board members are a tremendous resource for the school and its leadership,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “I look forward to working with these new members in the years ahead and to the contributions they will make to Medill.”

New Board of Advisers members include:

bradley-akubuiro125x156.jpgBradley Akubuiro (BSJ11) is the chief spokesperson and senior director of global media relations for The Boeing Company, the largest aerospace manufacturer in the world. In this role, he is responsible for leading Boeing’s team of company spokespeople enterprise wide in their efforts to advance and protect the company’s interests around the globe. Akubuiro has provided leadership and counsel through the company’s response to COVID-19, the national conversation around race and several news making challenges and milestones in its effort to return the grounded 737 MAX to commercial service.

Prior to joining Boeing, Akubuiro served as director of corporate communications and public affairs for United Technologies Corporation (UTC) where he led the global corporate media relations and public affairs functions for the $77B Fortune 50 company. In an earlier role, he was deputy communications leader for the global military jet engines business at Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies.

marcia-davis125x156.jpgMarcia Davis is the supervising editor of race and identity at National Public Radio. She joined NPR in June 2020. A native of St. Louis, she spent more than 20 years as an editor and writer at The Washington Post.

At The Washington Post, Davis edited for Metro, Style, National and The Washington Post magazine. On the National Desk, she led coverage of the federal government, including breaking stories on mismanagement at the General Services Administration and stories on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She edited several columns, including the Federal Eye, In the Loop and the Federal Diary.

She also helped to lead the coverage of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in St. Louis. That death was a significant point in the history of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
As the District of Columbia political editor, she supervised reporters who covered Mayor Adrian Fenty. And while editing for Style, she helped lead the award-winning series “Being a Black Man.”

Davis attended Medill in the 1980s before finishing her degree at Roosevelt University.

matt-murray125x156.jpgMatt Murray (BSJ87, MSJ88) is editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, responsible for all global newsgathering and editorial operations.

Murray previously served as executive editor since 2017, and had been deputy editor in chief since 2013. He joined Dow Jones & Company in 1994 as a reporter for the Pittsburgh bureau.

He is the author of “The Father and the Son” and collaborated on memoirs by former New York City fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

emily-ramshaw125x156.jpgEmily Ramshaw (BSJ03), is co-founder and CEO of The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy. Most recently, Ramshaw was the editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, a Peabody Award-winning, 10-year-old news startup that boasts the largest statehouse bureau in the nation, powers the pages of newspapers across Texas and the nation, and is considered the gold standard for sustainability in local news. She is also the youngest person ever to be named to the board of the Pulitzer Prize, where she is serving a nine-year term.

Before helping to found the Texas Tribune a decade ago, Ramshaw was an award-winning investigative reporter at The Dallas Morning News, where she broke national stories about sexual abuse inside Texas’ youth lock-ups, reported from inside a West Texas polygamist compound and uncovered “fight clubs” at state institutions for people with disabilities.