Waiting for Rahm, SPJ Chapter of the Year, Loving Les & More in our August Newsletter

— “News is really important to a democracy.” Pat Quinn

— “Having an informed citizenry is essential.” Rahm Emanuel

They spoke those words at Newsradio WBBM-FM’s debut. 

Now, if only those words would filter downward. The Chicago Headline Club had a positive meeting with Cook County Freedom of Information Act lawyers, who say they will roll out a new access system in September. CHC has a meeting scheduled at Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office in the near future. (Note that Madigan gets the credit for the stronger Freedom of Information law passed two years ago.) But Rahm Emanuel’s office has not yet responded to our three-month-old request for a meeting. Our access survey earlier this year found journalists have a tough time getting information from Chicago and Cook County. We hope that the new administrations of each will be more open. CHC plans a town hall style meeting at 9:30 a.m. Sat. Sept. 17 at the Downtown campus to discuss access in area government. All are invited. More details later.

Medill Ruling Sept. 7 – An end to the controversy over whether students at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism are journalists could come Sept. 7 when Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Cannon says she will issue a ruling. Attorneys for Medill and the State’s Attorney’s office presented two hours of arguments to the judge Aug. 10. Cannon’s ruling will end two and a half years of strife over whether student records should be provided to prosecutors. Read more in the Sun-Times and Tribune. We hope that a clue to her decision lies in her ruling in a Loyola Phoenix case earlier this summer.

CHC wins national awards – The Society of Professional Journalists has named the Chicago Headline Club  the best large chapter of the year. The chapter will be recognized at the upcoming Excellence in Journalism 2011 conference. The award will be presented during the President’s Installation Banquet on Tues. Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. CHC also won three large chapter Circle of Excellence Awards in the areas of First Amendment/FOI, Diversity and Professional Development which will be presented at the SPJ Opening Business Session Sun., Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. Be nice to see a big turnout of CHC members at the conference!

Celebrate Les Brownlee – Join us in remembering this remarkable man and journalism leader Sun. Aug. 21. We’ll eat, drink and be merry at the home Les shared with his wife, Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, at 537 Judson in Evanston. Open house for all friends and colleagues from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. A Columbia College reunion (Les taught there for 20 years) will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Suggested donation: $20. Give $100 and get a free copy of his autobiography. RSVP to Susan S. Stevens

Upcoming programs – Program Vice President Amy Lee is working on a number of very useful programs for the coming “school year.” You will hear more about them later. But if you have ideas, let her know. We want to deliver what YOU want! We would like to please everyone, if at all possible, with the best programming ever. 

Elijah Lovejoy memorial – Anyone who has studied journalism history knows the nameElijah Lovejoy. (He was the Alton editor murdered almost 175 years ago because he editorialized for the end of slavery.) In 1952, the site of his demolished newspaper was declared a Sigma Delta Chi (now SPJ) Historic Landmark. However, the plaque was stolen in the intervening years. A group of Alton residents wants to install a new plaque, with a ceremony planned Nov. 10, 2012 at nearby Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey. We will be helping.

Ethics AdviceLine – is ready and waiting for your call. Got a problem about how to handle a story? Got a problem with your editor or publisher? Dial 866-DILEMMA to discuss your concerns with a professional ethicist. Our service is free to all professional journalists. We have answered more than 900 calls during our decade of operation. For more information, see our website.

Money – If you are in need, think about CHC and SPJ. CHC offers Watchdog Grants funding for investigations that need a little financial boost via the Dreihaus Foundation. If you are sued, SPJ has a Legal Defense Fund.  Then there’s the JobFile, updated by Bob Roberts each week at www.headlineclub.org. For your other needs, contact one of us you will find on the website.

Archives – Thanks to John McClelland, we now have in good shape for future Chicago journalism historians Headline Club News 1970-71 and 1983-1990, the Chicago Journalist, its entire print run 1991-2005, and a lot of other historic papers. Our plan is to donate to the Newberry Library.

Membership – Be sure to keep up-to-date (a lot of renewals come up in December so watch for the letter). And encourage your colleagues to join! Direct them to www.headlineclub.org and put them in touch with Membership VP Rumanna Hussain at rhussain@suntimes.com.

Stay in touch – You can find CHC on Facebook and Twitter:



We also are setting up a listserve. Board member Anna Tarkov will be in charge. 

— Susan S. Stevens

President ex-officio