- Editor’s Note: Not to brag on his behalf or anything, but check out the company of Roger Ruthhart in the Lincoln League of Journalists and you’ll get an idea of how big a deal this is. Scroll down for more about the Lincoln League and the famous journalists inducted as part of the Bicentennial acknowledgement.
BLOOMINGTON — A member of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Assn. board was inducted by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors into the prestigious Lincoln League of Journalists at this year’s Illinois Press/AP annual convention. As part of the state’s Bicentennial it also inducted seven pioneer members into the Lincoln League.
The Lincoln League of Journalists was created in 2000 to honor men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois
Roger Ruthhart, the retired editor of The Dispatch-Rock Island Argus, is the 16th inductee. He is the second NINA board member inducted, following the late Marx Gibson in 2000.
Ruthhart was introduced by John Lampinen, senior vice president and editor of The Daily Herald.
Ruthhart served on the IAPME board for 32 years (two terms as president) and on the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association Board for 31 years (three terms as president). He served for many years as chair of the Illinois Press Association News/Editorial Steering Committee, which planned seminars around the state.
He was involved in the launch of the pilot Cameras in the Courtroom initiative and consulted with other media and court districts on wider implementation in Illinois. He is an annual presenter at the convention of the Northern Illinois Student Press Association for high school students and advisors and a frequent speaker to high school and college journalism classes on such topics as careers, reporting, ethics and media law.
In his comments, Lampinen noted that Ruthhart had been responsible for launching and nurturing the careers of hundreds of reporters and interns —t wo of which won the Pulitzer Prize.
His career began covering sports for his hometown newspaper in Barrington, Ill. while in high school in 1968. He was a reporter, political writer and managing editor at Lakeland Newspapers in Grayslake, which twice won the IPA award as the state’s best weekly paper. He also was editor of the Times-Press in Streator before becoming managing editor of the Rock Island Argus and retiring as editor of the Dispatch-Argus.
A Distinguished Group
Also inducted as part of the Bicentennial acknowledgement of their earlier contributions to the industry were:
Matthew Duncan: The first newspaper published in Illinois was the Illinois Herald, first published in 1814 in Kaskaskia by Matthew Duncan. The Herald was the only paper in Illinois until it became a state in 1818 and the law was changed to allow three state newspapers to publish public notices. But Duncan and the Illinois Herald have the honor of being the first.
John Withnal Bailey: John Withnal Bailey, owner of the Bureau County Republican, convinced fellow journalists to unite to form the Illinois Press Association. Bailey aided southern fugitives through the Underground Railroad. In 1863 he bought the Bureau County Republican, which he ran for 40 years.
Elijah Lovejoy: Few have suffered in the name of journalism as Elijah Lovejoy. The anti-slavery publisher moved to Illinois in 1836 after pro-slavery advocates in Missouri destroyed his press. He named his newspaper the Alton Observer. But there, mobs destroyed his press three more times. In 1837 they finished the job for good, shooting and killing Lovejoy, setting his building on fire, and throwing his press in the river, ending his years of battle for freedom of the press and abolition of slavery.
Robert Sengstacke Abbott: In 1905, Robert Sengstacke Abbott founded the Chicago Defender in a kitchen of an apartment, with an initial press run of 300 copies. A decade later, the Defender was the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper, with more than two-thirds of its readership base located outside of Chicago.
Samuel Sidney McClure: Samuel McClure and a group of fellow graduates from Knox College in Galesburg, created McClure’s Magazine from 1893. McClure encouraged a new form of reporting and writing where instead of demanding writers provide articles immediately, he would give them all the time they needed to do extensive research on their topics – providing the foundation for investigative, or muckraking, journalism.
Minnie Potter: For the first time in its history, the Rock Island Argus was on sound financial footing following its purchase by John W. Potter in 1888. But in January 1898 at age 37, Potter died. His wife, Minnie Potter, took over the newspaper, making her perhaps the first female newspaper publisher in Illinois. She kept The Argus alive during a critical 25-year period of publication during which the paper battled with The Rock Island News run by gangster John Looney. She led a group of local businessmen who kept the pressure on the city’s corrupt leaders to take action against Looney.
Col. Robert McCormick: Robert R. McCormick introduced the concept of higher education in journalism. His goal was to lay the foundation for journalism to become a profession. In 1920, McCormick and his cousin, Joseph Medill Patterson, sponsored a school named for their grandfather, the Joseph Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. From 1911 until 1955, McCormick was president of the Tribune Company.
Previously inducted Lincoln League members include:
- Marx Gibson, Kankakee Daily Journal/Joliet Herald News
- James Wilson, Chicago bureau chief for the Associated Press
- Pat Coburn, publisher, State Journal Register, Springfield
- John Foreman, publisher News-Gazette, Champaign
- Mike Lawrence, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, SIU Carbondale; Lee Enterprises, Chicago Sun-Times.
- John David Reed, Chicago Sun-Times, Eastern Ill. Univ./Daily Eastern News; Mid America Press Institute
- Charles Wheeler III, Public Affairs Reporting, Univ. Of Illinois –Springfield
- Jack Brimeyer, Peoria Journal Star
- Barry Locher, State Journal Register, Springfield; Illinois Press Foundation
- Bill Lair, Charleston Courier; Eastern Illinois University
- Roger Ebert,Chicago Tribune, syndicated columnist, Ebert Film Festival
- Mary Dedinsky, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, NU-Qatar
- John Beck, News Gazette, Champaign
- Ann Marie Lipinski, Chicago Tribune, University of Chicago and Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
- Eric Lund, Evanston Review, Chicago Daily News, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, North Park College, Columbia College