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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
May 29, 2008
DeKalb — On the same day John Puterbaugh began his first professional job at the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, the recent editor of Northern Illinois University’s Northern Star was named among the nation’s 100 most promising student journalists.
Puterbaugh, who graduated May 17 and guided the student newspaper through NIU’s Feb. 14 tragedy, is in good company on the list compiled by college journalism association UWIRE and released May 21.
A seven-member panel considered 500 nominations from 132 campuses to create the honor roll of “hard workers, big thinkers and gifted storytellers” with the “potential to shape the media industry in the years ahead.”
The students represent 66 different schools, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large state universities. The full list is available online at www.UWIRE.com.
“I’m honored and proud to be on there,” Puterbaugh said. “I’m trying not to let it be too big. I’m more interested in reading about everyone else – the columnist from Northwestern who pried into the dean’s facts; a photojournalist in Iraq who got kicked out. There is some cool stuff there, and it’s cool to be among that.”
“This is really a nice honor for John. It’s a reward for some incredible work done since February, and really before that, too,” said Jim Killam, adviser to the Northern Star. “John is thoughtful, low-key and calm, and he had a good calming influence on the staff, especially after the shootings. That kind of approach was contagious in our newsroom.”
Puterbaugh called Feb. 14 “a defining moment” that confirmed his chosen career path.
“I love journalism, and I love working for a community. Right now, I love working for this community – DeKalb and Sycamore and everyone who’s a part of it,” he said. “This is something I realized in the aftermath of the shooting: what a community can do for one person and what one person can do for a whole community. That will be my credo in whatever I do in the future as a journalist.”
He is working the day shift on the Daily Chronicle’s copy desk, editing inside pages and designing pages. It’s a return to his roots: Puterbaugh first joined the Northern Star as a copy editor.
“John came to editor-in-chief through the copy desk, which is unusual route for a student to become editor-in-chief,” Killam said. “But he was good at getting the paper out at night. He was responsible, made good editing decisions and won the respect of the staff from that side of the newsroom. It carried over very well.”
When angry readers came to the Star office with complaints, Puterbaugh handled them well.
“John can be very disarming and very diplomatic, and that’s a sign of his leadership skills,” Killam said. “He really doesn’t get ruffled.”
A native of Carmel, Ind., Puterbaugh celebrated his recognition over the weekend with his annual trip to the nearby Indy 500 in Indianapolis.
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