Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The fold

Sometimes, despite our best copy editing efforts, (stuff) happens.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Opportunity for high school J teachers

The Eastern Illinois University Journalism Department is partnering with the McCormick Foundation, the Illinois Press Foundation and the Illinois JEA to offer another free Multimedia Workshop for high school journalism teachers and advisers in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago Oct.14-15 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill.

In addition to free registration, we also have a limited number of stipends for substitute teachers on the Friday of the workshop on a first-come first-served basis.

For more about the workshop and a registration form go to

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Fall Conference is set

In a year of blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, it’s only natural to focus NINA’s Fall Conference on disaster coverage.

Kevin Wendt, editor of the Hunstville (Ala.) Times and a 2000 graduate of Northern Illinois University, will serve as keynote speaker for the Oct. 20 evening event. Wendt’s paper provided acclaimed coverage of this year’s tornadoes in northern Alabama.

In 2005, while with the San Jose Mercury News, parent company Knight Ridder sent Wendt to Columbus, Georgia, to help the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun-Herald cover Hurricane Katrina. From Columbus, Wendt helped organize the desk operation that remotely published the paper for 11 days. The coverage received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

In 2001, with Wendt as a key designer, the Mercury News was named one of the five “World’s Best Designed Newspapers” by the Society for News Design. He later would serve as the paper’s assistant managing editor before departing for Huntsville in 2008.

The Oct. 20 event at NIU also features NINA’s annual awards dinner, with honors announced in 28 individual categories, plus newspaper sweepstakes awards for dailies and nondailies. Judging has been completed and contest results now are being compiled, said contest coordinator Jim Killam.

What: NINA Fall Conference and Awards Dinner

When: Thursday, Oct. 20

Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Social hour (cash bar); 6:30-7:15 dinner; program follows

Where: University Suite, second floor of the Holmes Student Center, NIU-DeKalb

Cost: $30 a person for dinner and program

To register online:

To register by phone or email: Contact Jim Killam at 815-753-4239 /

Registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 10.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Contest deadline

Here's a reminder that the postmark deadline for this year's NINA contest entries is TOMORROW, June 30. You can enter either via mail or online. Full details on the NINA website. Good luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Combining Wordpress and Google Docs

Looking for an inexpensive way to integrate online and print newspaper? This VIDEO and accompanying blog post may give you some ideas. The Bangor Daily News has come up with a combination of Google Docs and Wordpress.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tracking our scholarship winners

We’ve tracked down most of our 13 previous first-place NINA scholarship winners. Many are working in media. Here are brief updates.

2010 – Allison Prang, Bartlett High School

Allison just finished her freshman year as a journalism major at the University of Missouri. She’s been named city, state and nation editor for The Maneater, the student-run newspaper there. In April, Allison flew back to the Chicago area to attend a speech by her journalistic hero, Bob Woodward. A friend took this photo of the two of them together. It’s now Allison’s Facebook profile photo and someone even made it into a coffee mug for her.
Allison is interning this summer at the St. Louis Beacon, an online daily, and also is working for

2009 – Emily Busse, Prospect High School.

Emily is a student at University of Iowa, and is metro editor for the Daily Iowan.

2008 – Rebecca Krase, Deerfield High School.

Becca is studying abroad this year in Madrid, Spain. She’s working toward completing her dual-degree of communications and Spanish, and will graduate from the University of Missouri in December. In addition to studying in Spain, she’s also working as an assistant English teacher in a Madrid middle school. After graduation, she’ll be looking to get into either bilingual education or public relations for organizations that work with Chicago’s Latin American community.

2007 – Tara Grimes, Huntley High School.

Tara has been a reporter for KOMU-TV (NBC affiliate) in Columbia, Mo., the only university-owned commercial station in the U.S. She graduated in May 2011 from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. More at

2006 – Erika Strebel, Glenbard North High School.

Erika is a page designer copy editor, reporter and occasional photographer at the Beloit (Wis.) Daily News. She earned her B.S. degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. “It’s my first job since I graduated in December of 2009,” she says. “When I get a chance to do reporting, I usually write feature stories. I’ve roamed the pastures with alpacas, learned how to make homemade soap and even hung out a local shooting range all between designing for our daily paper and special sections.”

2005 – Whitney Wyckoff, Elk Grove High School.

Whitney has been temping the past year and a half for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. She’s worked as an assistant producer, production assistant and editorial assistant on a variety of desks and shows, including science, digital news and Weekend Edition. “Right now, I’m a rundown editor for ‘All Things Considered,’” she writes. “As a rundown editor, I edit dacs lines (which are used by member stations as intros), write promos and coordinate the show’s Web presence.”

As a University of Illinois student, her internships included Congressional Quarterly and the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau.

2004 – Kristen Sackley, Mundelein High School.

Kristen works as a sales & marketing specialist at EnvirOx, LLC, in Champaign, Ill. She handles internal and external communications, creation of marketing materials and project management. At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she worked three years as a reporter, designer and editor at the Daily Illini. She graduated in 2008 with a degree in advertising and now is pursing an MBA at the university.

2003 – Matt Weir, Naperville Central High School.

Information not available. We do know that Matt graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

2002 – Laurel Jorgensen, Prospect High School, Arlington Heights.

Laurel lists herself on as web editor at the American Bar Association, Chicago. Previously, she was overnight supervisor, night broadcast editor and reporter at Associated Press. She completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northwestern University in four years.

2001 – Brandon Hoops, Freeport High School.

According to, Brandon works part-time as a teaching assistant at the Columbia Missourian, and full-time as a campus missionary with Great Commission Ministries at The Rock Church. He coaches a junior high basketball team. And, he blogs at Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2005.

2000 – Hannah Kenser, Joliet West High School.

Hannah (Kenser) Heck graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 with a B.A. in Psychology. While there, she was an editor of the Harvard Crimson as well as a contributing writer to the Harvard Political Review. Upon graduation, she went to work for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as his criminal justice policy adviser.

“I advised the governor on criminal justice legislation and budget priorities and helped implement policies to curb methamphetamine production and use, decrease recidivism in the Georgia prison system and decrease highway traffic fatalities,” she writes.

In 2007, Hannah was asked to serve as the governor’s Director of Policy. She helped lead a staff of five advisers in all policy areas, including healthcare, transportation, education and the environment, as we developed legislative and budget initiatives and advised the governor whether to sign or veto legislation.

In 2009, she entered Emory University School of Law. This summer she’s working at the Atlanta law firm of Alston and Bird, and plans to graduate from Emory Law in 2012. She also serves on the board of the Georgia Department of Community Health, where she chairs the Care Management Committee, and is vice chairman of the board at Westside Atlanta Charter School.

1999 – Nathan Charlan, Johnsburg High School.

Nathan is director of development and executive producer at Warm Springs Productions, Missoula, Mont. He creates new concepts for television series, casts for new talent/characters, creates television show formats, writes treatments for television series, field produces/directs shoots, and ultimately pitches series ideas to TV networks.

He and his wife, Renee, have a 4-year-old son, Zachary, with spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. Zachary is the inspiration behind them creating Exceptional Family TV, a website that focuses on raising special-needs children. They live in Arvada, Colo.

1998 – Laura Kuhn, Dixon High School.

Laura lists herself on as a professional copywriter and editor at Professional Medical, Inc., and also a freelance copy editor and proofreader at Triumph Books. She graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Friday, May 27, 2011

And our 2011 scholarship winners are ...

Student journalists from Prospect, Evanston Township and Rolling Meadows high schools were honored by NINA in the 14th annual Northern Illinois High School Journalist of the Year Scholarship competition.

A total of $2,050 in scholarships was awarded, including $1,800 from NINA and $250 from The Daily Herald.

The annual scholarship competition is open to graduating high school seniors in northern Illinois. NINA presents the scholarships to high school students who demonstrate the standards of honesty, integrity, attention to detail, hard work, creativity and an understanding and commitment to quality journalism.

Applicants submit an autobiographical essay, letters of recommendation and a portfolio of their work.

John Etheredge, NINA scholarship coordinator, said the association has received nearly 500 applications for scholarships since the association first offered a single scholarship award in 1998.

“Each year our judges enjoy examining the students’ portfolios and, as in prior years, they were impressed with the high quality of the students’ work and their passion to pursue careers in journalism,” Etheredge said. “Our judges found it extremely difficult to select the top three portfolios for this year’s scholarship awards.”

NINA and its member papers have awarded a total of $20,500 in scholarships since 1998.

Despite the economic downturn, the NINA Board voted earlier this year to increase its annual contribution to this year’s scholarship program by $300. Revenues for the scholarship program come from NINA member dues and proceeds from NINA training seminars and programs.

“I would like to thank my colleagues on the NINA Board for their increased support for this year’s scholarship program and to The Daily Herald for its continuing support and assistance,” Etheredge said.

And the winners are ...

First place: Gina O’Neill, Prospect High School

O’Neill has been a member of the staff at Prospect High School’s “Prospector” newspaper for the past three years. She served as editor of the paper’s Opinion section her junior year and this year as copy editor.

In selecting O’Neill for the top scholarship award, NINA judges were impressed with her concise and compelling writing on a broad range of difficult and, at times, controversial topics, including teen suicide, student drug use and the separation of church and state.

O’Neill’s skill as a copy editor was also evident to NINA judges who took note of the high quality of The Prospector.

In a letter of recommendation, Jason Block, O’Neill’s journalism instructor, noted that O’Neill has “contributed in every way possible” to the Prospector over the past three years.

Block wrote of O’Neill: “In addition to being a gifted writer who is willing to take risks, Gina is also a gifted leader who is willing to do anything to help those working under her succeed. She is one of the most patient editors I have ever been around, spending countless hours walking a younger staff member through a story in order to get that story up to Gina’s very high standards.”

Block added: “Gina has not allowed all of her responsibilities as copy editor to distract her from writing amazing stories of her own. She tackles large topics like drug use at our school and traffic issues, and handles them with a maturity rare for a high school journalist. And she manages all of this while also holding a demanding part-time job, never allowing her grades to slip in the process.”

“I’ve grown to love reporting, editing and even layout just as much as the writing,” O’Neill wrote in her autobiographical essay. “I’ve learned to respect what reporting stands for; I’ve seen how stories can not only inform others but affect their lives as well. When I wrote a story about drug usage in school, it did not spark controversy with the administration. Rather, people respect how well we informed the school of this issue. After writing a story on teen suicide, several teachers showed me their appreciation for bringing that topic to light. I’ve seen how thankful and touched the wife of a late Marine was after we ran a story of his passing and what being a member of a military family entails. That’s why I want to purse a career in journalism.”

O’Neill noted that The Prospector transitioned to the web last year while retaining its print edition.

“As copy editor I had to learn to break out of the normal, three-draft routine of editing in order to work with writers efficiently for online stories.”

Describing herself as The Prospector’s “resident grammar diva,” O’Neill said, “I have learned so much about AP style and editing in general, and I know how to pace myself and focus when reading 24 stories an issue, three times each.”

O’Neill plans to major in journalism with an emphasis on print and online reporting at either DePaul University or Northwestern University. She received a total scholarship award of $1,200: $1,000 from NINA and $200 from The Daily Herald.

Second place: Meredith Newman, Evanston Township High School

In selecting Newman for a second place scholarship award, NINA judges took notice of her excellent writing and eye for detail as shown in her work as an executive editor for her school’s student paper, The Evanstonian.

Newman has been on the newspaper’s staff the past three years, excelling as a news reporter and editor.

Judges were also impressed with feature stories Newman has written for her hometown paper, The Evanston RoundTable.

Rodney Lowe, a journalism instructor for almost 30 years and faculty adviser to The Evanstonian, said Newman’s “continuous, tireless” work ethic alone warrants a scholarship award.

In a letter of recommendation, Lowe wrote of Newman: “She is committed, hardworking and compassionate. Moreover, Meredith is conscientious and tenacious. You should know that she has set some lofty goals for herself and these goals, in my professional opinion, are in reach.”

In her autobiographic essay, Newman said she was inspired to pursue a career in journalism partly because of the influence of Lowe and a feature story she wrote early in her high school journalism career on a classmate, Kelly Chong. Kelly’s mother died when she was 3 years old and Kelly has since lived in 15 different foster homes.

Newman wrote, “While writing Kelly’s story, I realized that if I became a journalist, I would be able to share important stores like Kelly’s with others…A career in journalism will allow me to write people’s untold stories.

Newman received a $500 scholarship from NINA. She will attend Syracuse University this fall.

Third place: Alexandria Johnson, Rolling Meadows High School

NINA judges picked Johnson for a third-place scholarship based on the high quality of her work for The Pacer, the student newspaper at Rolling Meadows High School.

“Accomplished” is the word one NINA judge used to describe Johnson’s work, while another said her passion for journalism was clearly evident in her portfolio.

In recommending Johnson for a scholarship Stan Zoller, a journalism instructor and Pacer adviser, wrote: “It’s not unusual for a scholastic journalist to excel at design or editing. It’s also not unusual for a high school journalist to be the proverbial editorial leader or outstanding writer. What sets Alexandria apart is that she is exemplary in all of the aforementioned areas and more.”

Zoller added: “As I reflect on Alexandria’s four years in journalism…it is clear that her passion, leadership, motivation and quest for excellence is unsurpassed.”

In her autobiographical essay, Johnson said she has worked to create an improved standard of journalism at Rolling Meadows High School.

“There is nothing I would rather dedicate my life to; journalism makes me feel powerful, confident and important,” she wrote. “To have the opportunity to work on a prominent newspaper and share my words and my voice with millions would be one of the great honors to be accomplished.”

Johnson will continue her journalism education at Northwestern University this fall. She received a total scholarship award of $350: $300 from NINA and $50 from The Daily Herald.