A victory for students, surveys and goodbyes …

The Chicago Headline Club’s July Newsletter

STUDENTS’ VICTORY – A judge has ruled that Loyola Phoenix students are covered by the Illinois shield law a ruling that might bode well for Northwestern students who worked on Project Innocence. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Cannon quashed subpoenas June 21 after ruling that the Illinois Reporter’s Privilege Act protects both professional and student journalists from revealing sources and information in court.

Blaine Kimrey of the law firm Lathrop & Gage and counsel for The Loyola Phoenix, said the judge never questioned a student newspaper being within the shield law’s scope. He said the case is the first he is aware of that specifically extends the act’s protection to student journalists. Read more

The Chicago Headline Club board is elated the judge ruled this way in the Loyola Phoenix case. Now, if the judge will use that precedent to rule the same way in the Medill Project Innocence case! The Headline Club for two years has objected to subpoenas issued by the state’s attorney’s office for Northwestern journalism students’ records and other files related to their investigation of a murder case, maintaining student journalists are covered by the shield law. The judge scheduled hearings on that for 9:30 a.m. July 26.

ACCESS SURVEY – We are still trying to set up meetings with state, county and city officials to discuss our huge survey that found Chicago journalists face dismal cooperation when trying to obtain information. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office has expressed interest in a meeting. Not so with Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s staffs. Work continues.

ANOTHER SURVEY – DePaul Professor Andrea Lyon is researching the effects of media and in particular legal commentators on the criminal justice system.  A former public defender, Lyon has been involved in high-profile death penalty cases. She needs help from journalists. One thing she wants to know about is how cameras affect courtrooms. Here’s her survey. You can reach her here.

BYE LILY – Long-time CHC member Lily Pagratis Venson died June 27 at 86. The ace reporter and writer at Lerner Newspapers reported on the march in Selma and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her efforts to establish Warren Park. She later did PR for the state, and was one of the most efficient as well as one of the nicest.  Here’s the Tribune obit.

LITTLE GUY – That’s the person Anne Keegan preferred to write about. Keegan, an award-winning Tribune columnist, died May 18 at 68. CHC will pay tribute with a new award, presented at the Peter Lisagor Awards banquet. Reporters who best exemplify her style of reporting will be honored. We might call the award the Voice for the Voiceless or something else. Watch for it.

COMING UP – Aug. 21 is our annual party in honor of late CHC President Les Brownlee. We’ll gather at the home at 537 Judson Ave. in Evanston that he shared with his wife, Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. A mini-reunion for students Les taught at Columbia will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Donation: $20 for food, drink and the Scholarship Fund. A $100 contribution gets you his autobiography.

— Susan S. Stevens

President ex-officio