October 2008

October Chicago Headline Club Newsletter






President’s Message

Dear Chicago Headline Club members,

Fall is here and we are in the midst of many changes:

A CHC committee is reviewing bids to overhaul our Web site and make it more user-friendly.

A committee, co-chaired by Niki Dizon of the Associated Press and me, is reviewing, changing and updating our annual Lisagor Awards categories to fit the growing needs of our evolving multimedia world.

The Headline Club board voted to combine the Lifetime Achievement Awards with the Lisagor Awards banquet to create one bigger, better event that will truly honor the most accomplished in our industry.

We listened to your complaints about last year’s over-priced drinks and have found a new amazing location (with slightly less expensive drinks) to host this year’s annual banquet. Mark your calendar for the 2008 Lisagor and Lifetime awards banquet that will be held Friday, April 24, 2009 at the impressive Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson Blvd. (www.ulcc.org)

Happy Fall! Please enjoy the newsletter.

Your President,

Dawn Reiss



For more information about CHC, go to www.headlineclub.org.





Leading feminist attorney to talk about her life and her life with Brownlee

The Chicago Headline Club’s annual Les Brownlee Series kicks off this month with what promises to be a rousing and interesting talk by Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, the widow of the legendary journalist and professor. MacDougall will talk about how Brownlee broke race barriers in education, the military and the media from


6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16

Columbia College, Room 219, auditorium

33 E. Congress Pkwy. (The building’s entrance is around the corner on Wabash Avenue.)


Admission is free to the public.


Brownlee broke the color barrier in the Society of Professional Journalists by becoming the organization’s first African American member in 1947.


MacDougall is shaping her own legacy as an honored and trail-blazing attorney, and will tell stories about her extraordinary life when she kicks off the CHC’s 2008 Les Brownlee series.


MacDougall has fought for women’s rights throughout her legal career. She was propelled into action in 1972 when the Supreme Court ruled in Forbush v. Wallace that married women must use their husbands’ surnames on their drivers’ licenses, stating inaccurately that the common law required a woman’s “legal name” to be that of her husband’s. MacDougall then filed a case to “establish” her name in circuit court, and in May 1972 she took the decree to the press. Forbush, she discovered, had been based on the false legal premise that a woman’s name automatically changed because of marriage.


Her writings and legal battles brought her to the fore of the women’s legal movement, which resulted in victories giving married women the right to choose their own names, to use surnames they invent and to vote in their own names.


Earlier this year, MacDougall was honored by the Veteran Feminists of America’s Salute to Feminists Lawyers. The event featured a special tribute to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


The Les Brownlee Series puts the spotlight on Les Brownlee, who survived a courageous journey through a childhood marred by racism and poverty to achieve a lifetime of accomplishments. Despite many early setbacks, Brownlee’s potential talents were recognized by many, including good friend Arthur Nielsen and mentor Sinclair Lewis, who contributed to his success by offering guidance and opportunities.


Brownlee climbed from a football star at the University of Wisconsin to the U.S. Army’s first black commissioned artillery officer to the first black reporter for both a major Chicago newspaper and television station. In his autobiography, “Les Brownlee: The Autobiography of a Pioneering African American Journalist,” he shared his experiences of racial discrimination in every aspect of his personal and professional lives. Despite these unjust restraints, Brownlee remained determined and succeeded in breaking down race barriers and achieved enormous success. Brownlee died in 2005 of lung cancer.


The Chicago Headline Club honors Brownlee’s legacy each year with a series of programs about topical journalism issues. Other programs are being planned for November and December.


Questions? E-mail Kathy Catrambone, CHC executive director, chc.kathy@gmail.com.



First Amendment Forum Oct. 23

Former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson II, who created the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy earlier this year with a strong focus on the necessity for a free press to inform the public in a democracy, will moderate the annual First Amendment Forum


6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23

McCormick Freedom Museum in the Tribune Tower

435 N. Michigan Ave.


The topic at the seventh annual event: What do journalists want the next U.S. president and administration to do to insure a free news media?


Panelists will include the Illinois First Amendment Center, which won a national award from the Society of Professional Journalists at this year’s convention, and several local experts in freedom of information issues.


Admission is free and the public is welcome. Co-sponsored by the Chicago Headline Club, Chicago Journalists Association and International Press Club.


Questions? E-mail Susan S. Stevens, Headline Club vice president, Freedom of Information, susanstevens@aol.com.


SPJ on financial bailout

Where does SPJ think about Congress’s $700 billion aid package for troubled Wall Street financial firms? You can read the society’s statement at http://www.spj.org/news.asp?REF=844#844 .


Burger Night moves to new evening, new time

The Headline Club’s monthly Burger Nights that you have grown to love to attend are moving to a new night this season. Join us now on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a TGIF, a night earlier. The next Burger Night will be held Nov. 6.


We will still meet at Billy Goat’s on lower Michigan Avenue, and the first beer is still on the Headline Club’s dime. See you


5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6

Billy Goat Tavern

430 N. Michigan Ave., lower level


Our special guests: Everyone who covered the November elections. Come and swap stories from the campaign trail. RSVPs are not required.


Membership questions?

Do you have a question about your membership? Contact Laura Putre, Headline Club vice president, membership, putre2@yahoo.com.




Starting with this e-newsletter, The Headline Club is proud to highlight one of our many outstanding members. If you know someone who should be profiled, please e-mail Kathy Catrambone, CHC executive director, chc.kathy@gmail.com.


Casey Bukro crusader for environment, a ‘pit bull of ethics’

By Brian Pitts

Headline Club member

Long before going green became more than a fashion statement, Casey Bukro knew the importance of a clean environment. The Chicago Headline Club past president and former Chicago Tribune reporter and editor became the first full-time environment specialist at a major metropolitan newspaper in the United States. Bukro blazed trails by covering big-time breaking news such as the Three Mile nuclear accident, the Times Beach and Love Canal toxic waste stories, and the Alaska oil spill disaster. He received numerous awards for his environmental reporting.

“Casey was a real go-getter and very ambitious,” said Rudy Unger, who worked with him at the Chicago Tribune with him as a reporter and rewriteman during Bukro’s 45-year career there.

Before the Tribune hired him, Bukro worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago as a reporter and editor where he learned how to cover hard news and calmly assess a chaotic scene. It is a skill that Bukro, a graduate of the then Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, tried to pass on to cub reporters as he became one of the “drill sergeants” in leadership at the legendary news service.

One of Bukro’s newbie’s was investigative journalist Seymour “Sy” Hersh, a 1970 Pulitzer Prize winner who regularly contributes to the New Yorker on military and security matters. Early in Hersh’s career, he was a reporter working the streets and Bukro was a rewriteman who took stories or notes from reporters.

Hersh remembers one of his first assignments covering a horrific fire in Englewood where five people had died. The bodies were laid out in front of the house when he arrived on the scene. The fire was of a suspicious nature.

After getting the facts, a rattled Hersh called Bukro to dictate his notes from the smoldering scene. Bukro was able to calm him down by helping him keep his mind on the story by asking him questions to clarify the facts. This helped him focus on the details of the story, rather than the emotional trauma he had just experienced.

“He was very confident and strong,” Hersh said, “and great to dictate to.”

That confidence helped Bukro to write about one of the biggest environmental issues of his career.
One of Bukro’s duties as a Chicago Tribune assistant day city editor in the lat 1960s was to distribute mail to the correct reporter. The mail contained books, reports and press releases from various organizations describing water pollution problems across the country with particular concern for the Great Lakes. At the time, Lake Erie was considered a dead lake because it was so polluted.

Normally, Bukro would have given this material to the Tribune’s science writer, but he was busy with other assignments. So Bukro decided to investigate the issues himself, putting in extra hours after his regular workday and on weekends.

His efforts resulted in a nine-part series on water pollution, describing where water comes from and how it gets polluted, locally and nationally. Bukro was then granted a leave of absence to join the late Bill Jones in writing a series of articles on pollution of the grate Lakes. The groundbreaking “Save Our Lake” series resulted in state and national laws against water pollution. This also helped the Tribune establish a reputation for in-depth public service investigations.

For the “Save Our Lake” series, Bukro and Jones won the Tribune’s 1967 Beck Award, the Tribune’s highest editorial honor. In 1970, Bukro was named the Tribune’s first full-time environment specialist.

Bukro won the 1975 Environmental Quality Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwest regional office.

“I just had to write those early water pollution pieces because I recognized how importance the topic was,” he said. “I did not know at the time that it would lead to a career.

Bukro’s advice to students about to start their careers: Pursue your interest and tell editors what you’d like to cover, even if it means using your personal time to do it.

Despite the positive changes that resulted from his tenacious reporting, Burko said he is disappointed that many of the issues he wrote about years ago continue to be issues today from energy dependence to alternative fuel sources.

Bukro’s passion for a better world is also evident when it comes to ethics in journalism. A longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and its local chapter, the Chicago Headline Club, Bukro wrote the SPJ code of ethics to help improve the credibility of journalists across the United States. The SPJ adopted the code in 1973, and over the years it has updated it.

“It became clear very early that if people don’t believe what you are saying, you were not fulfilling a vital role in democracy to inform the public,” said Bukro, who has been a member of the Headline Club since 1960, club president in 1970-71, and ethics chair from 1995 to 2007. “If people don’t believe you, what good is that? Journalists must be believed to be effective.”

Bukro took his dedication to improving journalism ethics to another level. He co-founded the Ethics AdviceLine for journalists, a free hotline that gives ethics guidance to journalists. AdviceLine is a partnership between the Headline Club and Loyola University Chicago. What makes AdviceLine unique compared with other journalism ethics hotlines is that journalists are not talking to other journalists. They are talking to academic ethics experts such as David Ozar of Loyola, who specializes in a variety of professional ethics such as legal and medical ethics.

“Casey is an unsung hero on the ethics front,” said Susan S. Stevens, Headline Club vice president, freedom of information, and one of the journalists who works with AdviceLine. “He is the pit bull of ethics.”
Bukro retired from the Tribune in June 2007, after spending his last seven years there as the overnight editor.

His favorite memories come from “being at the ringside of history – right when it is being made” and telling people about it.

– Brian Pitts is assistant director of public relations at law firm Mayer Brown and a freelance sports correspondent for the Daily Herald.


CHC well represented at SPJ convention

By Susan S. Stevens

Headline Club Vice President, Freedom of Information


Attending a Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) convention can be compared to dining at a daylong buffet with too many juicy choices. You attend one workshop after another – often making hard choices among the several that interest you but are held simultaneously. In between the workshops, speeches, awards luncheons and dinners are sprinkled in for good measure.


Every time, I return home exhausted, but exhilarated. The annual convention held in Atlanta this fall was no exception.


Many Chicago area journalists and students shared the experience. (We invite them all to serve on a Headline Club committee. Please contact Kathy Catrambone at chc.kathy@gmail.com.)

They are:


Mubasher Ahmad, The Muslim Sunrise, Glen Ellyn;

Mother Martine Guibert and Sister Marie-Ann Bodin, Fraternite Notre Dame, Chicago;

Kristen Coultree, University of Georgia, Chicago;

Sougata Deb & Stephanie A. Deb, Loyola University of Chicago;

Howard Dubin, Manufacturers News, Evanston;

Karen Ford, National Writers Union, New York and Chicago;

Stephen Gregory, The Epoch Times, Chicago;

Kaylee King, Columbia College of Chicago;

Beth Konrad, Loyola University of Chicago and Headline Club’s vice president, programs and president-elect;

Cristina Larson, University of Iowa, Chicago;

Mark Lawton, Pioneer Press, Chicago;

Megan Loiselle, University of Illinois, Lindenhurst, Ill.;

Suzanne Mahler, Marketwire, Chicago;

Shawn Malayter, DePaul University, Chicago;

Molly McDonough, ABA Journal, Chicago;

Melissa Patterson, University of Central Florida, Chicago;

John D. Paul, University of Illinois, Mahomet, Ill. (former AP Chicago broadcast chief);

Howard Schlossberg, Columbia College of Chicago; and

Whitney B. Wyckoff, University of Illinois, Des Plaines.


My favorite session was given by our own former CHC president and SPJ board member, Molly McDonough, and Ron Sylvester of the Wichita Eagle. For details, see http://60sitesin60minutes.blogspot.com/. (I am stunned because they say I need a Facebook page and a blog and to Twitter. Just to start!) You can read a lot more about the convention at www.spj.org.


Those of us who attended the convention also worked at business sessions, electing officers and passing resolutions. Dave Aikens, a reporter for Times Media, St.Cloud, Minn., is the new president. CHC delegates voted with the majority supporting a resolution urging Congress to adopt a shield law.


Region 5 Conference

At our Region 5 meeting, we discussed the annual spring regional conference, which is a mini-convention that also will have interesting workshops. Save April 3-4, 2009, for the regional conference that will be held in Indianapolis.


Lifetime Achievement winner dies

Ray Coffey, who received a Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for his work, died Oct. 3. He was 79.


Mr. Coffey began his award-winning career in 1953 in the Chicago bureau of United Press. He was with the Chicago Daily News from 1961 until 1978. He served a stint at the Chicago Tribune before working for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1987 through 1999, first as managing editor and then as editorial page editor and columnist.


The Headline Club offers its condolences to the Coffey family.






Community Media Workshop: Getting Published, What You Need To Know

Community Media Workshop and the Chicago chapter of the National Writers Union (NWU) will present Getting Published, What You Need To Know, a panel discussion featuring Chicago-area book publishers.


Cynthia Sherry, editorial director of Chicago Review Press; Sharon Woodhouse, publisher of Lake Claremont Press; and Nancy Reid, Great Plains Press will discuss the kinds of books they are interested in publishing, how they work with writers, and the current outlook for the book-publishing industry.


6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29

Columbia College Film Row Center, Room 504

1104 S. Wabash Ave.


The panel is free to the public. RSVP at Diana@newstips.org. Questions? Call 312-369-7783.