Watchdog reporting seminar in May

Mid-America Press Institute and Investigative Reporters & Editors are teaming up for a Watchdog Journalism seminar Tuesday, May 24, at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Co-sponsored by the Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, registration for the seminar is $25. Journalists can register by emailing MPI Executive Director John Ryan at

The one-day seminar will run from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include lunch.

Alex Richards, an IRE trainer, will lead the seminar, which will center on using the Internet in deadline and long-term investigations.

Speakers sought for school journalism conference

The Northern Illinois School  Press Association is looking for speakers for its spring conference, which will be Friday, April 22, at College of DuPage.

Speakers are needed for its 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. sessions. Each session will be 50 minutes.  Speakers are welcome to present on multiple topics. However, space is limited, and speaking opportunities can’t be guaranteed.

Send your name, job titles and presentation topic or idea to Jason Block at


Board debates name change

The board is considering changing the name of NINA from “Northern Illinois Newspaper Association” to “Northern Illinois News Association.” Please read the following two arguments: the first in favor of changing the name, the second in favor of retaining the name. Please email Communications Coordinator Shelley Hendricks at if you would like to share your opinion.

Argument to change name

By Sharon Boehlefeld

More than 50 years ago, the chair of the Northern Illinois University Journalism Department, Donald Grubb, met with several regional newspaper editors to gauge interest in a professional association.

At that time, if the stories told to me by old timers at my hometown publisher in Rochelle, it was called the Northern Illinois Editorial Association. By the time I came to my first meeting, it was already the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association – familiarly known as NINA.

Back then, the big technology changes were the move from lead type to computer punch tape, from letterpress to offset printing. That shift to computer generated copy, to cut and paste in the literal sense, was tough on some people in the industry.

Today, as computerized processes have permeated the entire industry, those of us who still have a print product have long since moved on to work with other means of spreading the news. We work with digital video, audio and social media in its many forms. We are still producers of news, but we send it out in a variety of media.

Our association began as a way for editors to share knowledge and support each other. When the first name change came, I was told, it was because the editors’ understood every department in their papers – news, advertising, and the back shop – were important to success.

Since I’ve been on the board, we’ve narrowed our focus so that it has rested largely on the news again.

We have not eschewed our mission, to advance journalism and journalism education in northern Illinois.

But our media have changed.

We should acknowledge that our commitment to quality, credible and reliable news extends beyond the printed page.

By eliminating the “paper” from our name, we make obvious our support of  journalists and journalism in all forms.

We also give ourselves a chance to encourage broader membership and rejuvenate our association.

We don’t even have to give up our familiar acronym.

It’s time to become the Northern Illinois News Association.

Argument to retain name

By Roger Ruthhart

We all know that the role of our newsrooms is changing, but at the same time I think the general public understands that “newspapers” today are much more than ink on paper. We are online, mobile, on social media, niche publications and sites, and besides a variety of text reporting, we also report with graphics, maps, audio, video, slideshows and more. NINA has embraced these changes, both by accepting non-traditional members and by providing training programs that dive deep into new media.

The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association has a proud tradition dating back to 1962 and is a valued and recognized brand in the industry. We need a really good reason to tinker with that. Our current bylaws were amended in 2012 to admit “establishments and their duly accredited representatives engaged in publishing local news (changed from newspapers) in the 26 northern most counties of Illinois …”

In short, we are already able to do — and are doing — what those seeking a name change are trying to achieve. To me, much more important than the name is how we see and carry out our mission.

Many of these same arguments were made in 2012 when the bylaws were amended, but the board voted down a name change for many of these reasons. It was also noted at that time that “News Association” was far less descriptive and could be taken to be a wire service or a group that issues news releases.

Under our bylaws, it will require a two-thirds vote of board members present to change the name.

The role of newspapers will continue to evolve and change as will our role. But in the end what is important is our effort to identify and support professional and ethical presentation of the news. This is what makes newspapers, and those who contribute to them, different from a blogger in his mom’s basement or an untrained person sending out poorly written press releases. At the same time we should be happy to work with online publications, religious, ethnic and other special interest publications, government websites, and independent contractors of all kinds, whose missions share our same values. In some cases we already do.

Protecting these professional standards, and helping to train people to meet them, should be our continuing goal. That’s been the position of newspapers dating back to beforeNINA was formed. Being an organization of NEWSPAPERS tells everyone who cares that we support such professional standards.

Moline Dispatch, Galena Gazette sweepstakes winners in NINA competition

DeKALB — The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association presented awards to regional newspapers Thursday at its annual banquet at Northern Illinois University.

The Moline Dispatch won the sweepstakes for the daily category and the Galena Gazette won the sweepstakes for the nondaily category. NINA awarded more than 125 other awards in 46 categories.

The banquet featured keynote speaker Jim Rossow, executive editor of the News-Gazette in Champaign/Urbana, who presented “50 Ways to Engage Your Readers.”

NINA has been serving the journalists and educators in Northern Illinois, in conjunction with the Communication Department of Northern Illinois University for 53 years. Complete list of winners.


News literacy training free to first 50 registrants

DeKALB ­­— The Mid-American Press Institute, the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association and Northern Illinois University’s Communication Department will present a news literacy seminar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, 231 N. Annie Glidden Road.

Registration for the seminar is $25 and includes a box lunch. The fee will be waived for the first 50 journalists who register. NIU students and faculty may attend for free. Contact MPI Executive Director John Ryan at for more information and to register.

APME’s NewsTrain to make stop at NIU

DeKALB ­­— Journalists, educators and journalism students are invited to attend a two-day training seminar Oct. 29 and 30 from the Associated Press Media Editors at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb for $75. Topics include data journalism, using social media, shooting smartphone video, using audience analytics and watchdog beat reporting. For more information or to register, go to and click the “newstrain” bar. NewsTrain is a national touring workshop sponsored by APME that has served journalists in their own cities since 2004.

Board minutes, Dec. 7, 2012

NINA Board minutes

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Northern Star, Campus Life Building, NIU-DeKalb

Also a General Membership meeting

Present: (12) Larry Lough, John Etheredge, John

Puterbaugh, Lonny Cain, Jim Killam, Jim Slonoff, Sharon Boehlefeld, Roger Ruthhart, Jason Schaumburg, Penny Wiegert, Randy Swikle, Wally Haas.

Absent (6): Kathy Gresey, Marc Colosimo, Jeff Wisser, Nick Swedberg, Jason Akst, Dirk Johnson.

Guest: Shelley Hendricks, Northern Star adviser.

Three board seats are open.

Schaumburg called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m.

Oct. 18 minutes were approved unanimously. (Haas motion / Ruthhart second)


Treasurer’s Report

Slonoff reported balances of $10,294.41 in checking and $5.94 in savings. Deposits since the last meeting include $190 in membership dues and $585 in Fall Conference revenue. Expenditures were $1,000 to Matt Marton, winner of the Excellence in Journalism Award; $233.71 to the Northern Star for Spring Conference expenses; and $75.15 to the Ledger-Sentinel for plaques. NINA has not yet received the Fall Conference bill from NIU.

Executive Secretary’s Report: None

President’s Report
Schaumburg thanked board members for their participation this year, in particular as NINA has revisited its mission and made structural adjustments. To that end, all present were invited to participate in the general membership vote on changes to the constitution and bylaws. Those changes passed unanimously (Lough / Etheredge).

Board members Nick Swedberg and Mark Colosimo have resigned because of changes in their job situations. That leaves five open seats under the old structure; the new structure simply requires at least 15 board members.

Northern Star adviser Shelley Hendricks was elected to the board for a three year term. (Killam / Haas). Gresey and Slonoff were elected to new three-year terms (Cain / Lough). So, entering 2013, the board has 17 members.

Committee Reports

Program Committee: Lough said the Fall Conference was a success.

Education Committee: Etheredge asked about new ways NINA’s annual scholarship competition could be promoted to high school students and advisers. Along with the regular mailing, suggestions included using the IJEA listserv, and posting a link to high school newspapers’ Facebook pages. Announcement of the competition usually is sent in January, with a March 15 application deadline.

Membership Committee: Haas said he now represents the Freeport Journal Standard as well as the Rockford Register Star. Both are Gatehouse newspapers.

Resource Committee: Killam said he will hand communication coordinator responsibilities off to Hendricks as of Dec. 31. He plans to remain on the board while still living in the area.


Old Business


New Business

2013 officers were elected (Cain motion / Ruthhart second). They are:

President: Larry Lough

First Vice President: Kathy Gresey

Second Vice President: John Puterbaugh

Executive Secretary: Dirk Johnson

Treasurer: Jim Slonoff

Immediate Past President: Jason Schaumburg

Communications Coordinator: Shelley Hendricks


New committees as a result of the bylaws changes are Executive, Outreach, Training (dealing with professional training) and Education (dealing with colleges and high schools). Board members, or any NINA member or employee of a member publication, are encouraged to join a committee. To volunteer, contact Lough before the Jan. 18 meeting.

Slonoff proposed that the board help the Northern Star pay for a phone line in its conference room, which will allow for conference calls. This will be useful during NINA meetings if the board needs to hear from a member who is absent. The installation charge is about $650. NINA would pay for a maximum of $250, with the balance to be shared by the Northern Star and Northern Star Alumni. This is a one-time charge. The board approved unanimously ((Slonoff / Wiegert).

Randy Swikle asked board members to be aware of Jan. 13 as the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision, which has been used to justify censorship of high school newspapers (and at times, college newspapers). He cited examples of school administrators taking this decision far beyond what the law allows, in effort to control student voices and not allow anything controversial in student papers. Swikle asked newspapers to consider publishing editorials on Jan. 13, emphasizing the teaching of the First Amendment in practice, not just in theory. “There are other oversight strategies much more effective than prior review,” he said.


2013 meeting dates were set. They are:

Jan. 18

March 15

June 21

Sept. 6

Oct. 24 (Fall Conference)

Dec. 6


Next meeting: 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at the Northern Star


Adjourn 11:10 a.m.