Newsmakers at Medill

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment


We recently wrote of the teachable moment that David Protess, a journalism professor at Medill, provided his peers with when he ran afoul of administrators at Northwestern and the local DA in his stewardship of the journalism school’s Innocence Project. As its name suggests, the Innocence Project is designed to show, via DNA, that mistakes may have been made about the guilt of convicts.

Although, thus far, the professor’s colleagues have stayed above the law, they are a colorful lot arguably more activist than academic or even journalistic:

o   The author of The Journalism of Outrage: Investigative Reporting and Agenda Building in America, Medill professor Jack Doppelt runs three web sites—, Immigration Here & There, and On The Docket;

o   Brent Huffman “has been making social issue documentaries and environmental films for over ten years in Ohio, California, Afghanistan, China, Haiti, and Puerto Rico,” according to his IMDB profile;

o   Medill professor Peter Slevin is an old favorite of Accuracy in Academia’s sister group, Accuracy In Media. In a story he filed while still at the Washington Post five years ago, “Slevin claimed in the second paragraph that the constitution ‘forbids the government to show preference for any religious denomination,’” AIM editor Cliff Kincaid pointed out.“Oh really?” Kincaid asked. “Where does it say that?” It doesn’t:

o   Another Medill professor, ex-priest Robert McClory, has written an admiring account of Jeremiah Wright’s favorite guest pastor, Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice;

o   The retiring Helen Gurley Brown professor at Medill, Abe Peck, played Boswell to the Johnson of Studs Terkel who the FBI described  as “a radio/news commentator, actor, and award-winning author. Terkel was associated with a number of communist and communist connected groups.”

o   Medill professor Ellen Shearer bisected a long journalism career with a stint as public affairs director for the American Federation of Teachers teachers’ union;

o   According to her one review, Medill professor Rachel Davis Mersey is so egalitarian that students grade each other, at least on the group project;

o   Medill’s Ashlee Humphreys “studies consumer collaboration, both consumer interactions with other consumers and with companies.  Her current research focuses on online communities. One project looks at the development of norms and institutions on Wikipedia, and the other project assesses the exchange of value on YouTube.  She also studies the effects of institutional barriers (legal, social, and cultural) on consumer practices.  Her current work in this area traces the development of the casino gambling industry from 1976 to the present.”

o   Medill’s Patti Wolter “spent five years as the managing editor and Editor in chief of The Neighborhood Works, a small advocacy magazine then-published by the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology.”

All of the above, moreover, are not aberrations but represent one-third of the faculty highlighted by Medill on the cover of its faculty newsletter.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail