‘Are you with us or against us?’ A journalist reflects

Essay Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1968, I was working on my hometown newspaper, the Rock Island Argus. Smithsonian magazine called it a year “that shattered America.” The Kerner Commission, after months of research, declared “white racism,” not black agitators, the primary cause of widespread urban violence the year before. On March 31, …

The Press: Not at war, at work

A century ago, the First Amendment was taking its first, tentative breaths of life.  The protection of speech, protest, religion and the press had been in the Constitution for 120 years, but no one had won a First Amendment claim in the Supreme Court. It was a nasty time.  Americans exited World War I shell-shocked …

Q and A with Angie Muhs, a new leader with APME

Angie Muhs, executive editor of the State-Journal Register in Springfield, is the new president of the Associated Press Media Editors.  APME and the American Society of News Editors agreed to merge this fall, creating the News Leaders Association. The merger of the two powerful journalism organizations comes at a time when the news media are …

Reporter’s interview with Chicago cop accused of murder prompts social media criticism

Christy Gutowski waited three years to speak with the white Chicago police officer accused of gunning down black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, a killing that exposed the police department’s fraught relationship with the community it is sworn to protect. But when Gutowski, a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, finally landed the scoop, the critical …

Longtime editor starts storytelling project on Ferguson before and after protests

I am rolling out a project named BeforeFergusonBeyondFerguson that highlights the challenges St. Louis families have faced over many generations in getting a quality education and securing their purchase on the American Dream. It grew from my work with Forward Through Ferguson, an organization formed in the wake of social unrest and with the goal of …

Not your typical journalist’s memoir

Lucky Severson, Lucky From Virgin: An Unlikely Story, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018 (Available only on Amazon on Kindle edition, $7.09, 390 pages.) Lucky Severson’s new book Lucky From Virgin is a memoir of sorts, but not in the typical fashion. There is no overarching storyline detailing his life. It seems to be broken up …