The Journalism Program of the Department of Communication celebrated fifty-two years of Journalism at NIU at the 65th Annual Journalism Banquet, held at the Holmes Student Center on April 27, 2012.
The first official Journalism Banquet was held in the spring of 1960, but the first awards banquet was actually held in 1947 under the English department for the first 13 years, thus the discrepancy in the number of annual journalism banquets at NIU.
In the early, formative years of NIU, Dr. Edith Markin of the English Department and others taught several journalism courses. After seeing the need to create a Department of Journalism, Miss Markin, who had heard of Donald R. Grubb’s accomplishments in the field, sought him out at a conference in Chicago in the winter of 1958. With input from the NIU English Department, an offer for the position of departmental head to establish a new program in Journalism was made a few months later by Dr. Robert Thistlewaite. After interviewing at the NIU campus, Grubb, then at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois, accepted the position and taught the first classes in the fall of 1959. He was given a budget of $200.00 by the university to begin building the program.
The Scripps Howard family, who owned metropolitan newspapers, donated money under the Scripps League. The proceeds were based on stock profits from the DeKalb Daily Chronicle and given for advancement of Journalism teaching and students. Some of the money went to the DeKalb News Service education program. Dr. Grubb built up the department program with many sources for scholarships over the 30 years he spent at NIU.
This year we celebrated the 52nd Anniversary of the Journalism program and the 65th Annual Journalism Banquet.
Attended by over 100 Journalism majors and minors, parents, alumni, honored retired faculty, current faculty and staff, and friends of the department, this years’ banquet honored nearly 30 students with scholarships and department awards. In addition to student awards and scholarships, Gerould Kern of the Chicago Tribune was named the 2012 Illinois Journalist of the Year and gave an inspiring speech at the awards ceremony. Both Kern and Eileen Norris, the 2012 Donald R. Grubb Distinguished Alumni of the year were awarded for excellence in their fields of journalism.
As a student at Indiana University, Mr. Kern’s journalism career began at the Indiana Daily Student newspaper at Bloomington.
Formerly the managing editor and executive editor of The Daily Herald, Mr. Kern joined the Chicago Tribune in 1991 where he held a number of senior editing roles, including associate managing editor/metro, deputy managing editor/features, and associate editor.
He became Vice President for Editorial at Tribune Publishing in 2003 and was named Senior Vice President and Editor in July 2008. Under his direction Kern has focused the Tribune and its websites on investigative reporting and emphasized "watchdog" reporting exposing political corruption, and consumer health and safety regulations.
He has expanded the newspaper content by adding 44 full news pages each week tripling content sharing across the 13 Tribune newsrooms. Mr. Kern is a user of social media formats and is one of only three editors of the top ten newspapers in the
United States to have had a Twitter account as of fall 2011. He has increased digital staffing with the growth of the Trib Nation blog site, Trib U, and Chicago Live! where live shows engage a paying audience with Tribune journalists and local artists making the news a personal and highly interactive experience.
While a student at NIU, Eileen Norris began her career in journalism at the Northern Star as a police reporter. She formed a tight bond with her co-workers and held a wide variety of jobs at the Northern Star during her college career. She is a 2011 Northern Star Hall of Fame Inductee. After graduation and jobs at Crain’s Chicago and the Suburban Tribune, she found a calling with a career covering health topics starting at the American Medical Association where she was senior editor of the AMA Encyclopedia of Medicine, as a contributing writer and/or editor for six general interest health books, including The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens by Dr. John Duffy. She has been featured for work as a ghost-writer for a doctors advice column on Oprah.com, as well as Prevention Magazine, the Harvard Health Letter, Newsweek, and the Chicago Tribune. Eileen was managing editor for "You: The Smart Patient," a 2006 New York Times best seller by Drs. Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen. She currently works as a consultant, provides editorial services and content for books, magazines, newsletters, and develops and manages projects.
Eileen and husband Bruce Dold, who is the editorial page editor for the Chicago Tribune, have two daughters and live in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Norris stated that “It’s a distinct honor and I’m very grateful for the recognition and everything NIU has given me in life. The Northern Star was my home away from home while at NIU and I will always value and appreciate the experience. It was incredible and a large part of who I am today as a person and a writer”.