Awards & Recognition, Education, events, NINA News

60th Anniversary Is Rallying Cry For Northern Illinois Journalism


Oct. 3, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Rick Nagel at or Shelley Hendricks at (815-753-4239)

The Northern Illinois University Department of Communication and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association are rallying efforts to preserve, protect and celebrate quality journalism across Northern Illinois at a historic gathering set for Thursday, Oct. 27.

The event – which will be held in the banquet facilities of Altgeld Hall on the NIU campus – recognizes the 60th anniversary of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association and its valued partnership with NIU’s Communication Department.

“This is a special occasion celebrating a special mission,” said NINA President Patricia Szpekowski. “Our goal is to promote journalism and journalism education in Northern Illinois, and there has never been a more important time in our 60-year history to carry out that mission.”

The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association was founded in 1962 by Dr. Donald Grubb, longtime chairman of the former NIU Journalism Department, and throughout its history, it has promoted the newspapers of Illinois by developing programs to enhance the profession, working in conjunction with high school journalism advisers, providing annual scholarships for student journalists, administering an annual contest to reward excellence in the profession and sponsoring workshops and training seminars.

But NINA and the newspaper industry as a whole are at a crossroads, and the event faces that reality head-on. Without naming any specifics, Szpekowski said the Oct 27 banquet will include an announcement on how NINA will move forward to meet the challenges of the times.

The keynote speaker will be Kelly Bauer, breaking news editor of Block Club Chicago and winner of the 2021 award for Chicago Journalist of the Year. Bauer won the award for her investigative reports that revealed executives at the publicly-funded Loretto Hospital were allowing people with connections – including Eric Trump – to cut the line to receive vaccines. Her award-winning stories led to the CFO resigning, the CEO being ousted and the FBI launching investigations into the improper vaccinations. 

The 60th anniversary celebration will include a cash-bar cocktail hour and book fair, recognition of NINA’s legendary founders, a muti-media presentation, dinner and awards ceremony, culminating with the James S. Copley and the Donald R. Grubb traveling awards for overall excellence.

The event is open to all and will be of particular interest to people who care about journalism and the news industry in Northern Illinois. Students, teachers, civic leaders, non-profit organizers, free-lance writers, government communications professionals, law enforcers, academics and elected officials are encouraged to join the conversation with professional reporters and editors.

To RSVP, contact Shelley Hendricks at or call 815-753-4239.

Attendance is one way of showing support for professional journalists who are working tirelessly, and often under difficult circumstances, to protect the integrity of a free press.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 2,170 journalists and media workers were killed worldwide between 1992 and 2022. According to a report from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, more than 360 newspapers in the United States have gone out of business since just before the start of the pandemic.

“Your attendance means a lot,” Szpekowski said. “Journalism and journalists have been under siege in recent years, and fewer people are getting their information from reliable, professional information sources. We can change that, but to do so, we need your support and active participation.”

NINA’s 60th ANNIVERSARY: A Rallying Cry For Northern Illinois Journalism

What: Northern Illinois University’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

Where: Altgeld Hall, Northern Illinois University Campus, 116 Altgeld Hall

When: Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022

  • Book Fair / Cash Bar Reception – 5:30 p.m.
  • Dinner – 6:45 p.m.
  • Speaker/Presentations – 7:30 p.m.
  • Awards – 7:45 p.m.

Cost: $40 per person

RSVP: No later than Oct. 14, 2022, to Shelley Hendricks at or call 815-753-4239