Two Roosevelt University journalism faculty members received prestigious 2013 Lisagor awards from the Chicago Headline Club on May 3.
John W. Fountain (above), professor of journalism at Roosevelt since 2007 and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, won for best news column or commentary at a daily newspaper with a circulation of more than 250,000 for a series of columns he wrote on violence and murder in the city of Chicago.
Charles Meyerson (at right), a journalism instructor at Roosevelt for the last two years and a veteran of Chicago radio, print, online and TV news, was recognized as part of a team for best online start up, Rivet News Radio.
“We are proud to have these talented journalists sharing all they know about the craft of writing and reporting with Roosevelt students,” said Marian Azzaro, chair of the Department of Communication at Roosevelt. “Congratulations to both on their stellar work,” she added.
A series of five columns by Fountain, which appeared in the Sun-Times from January through May of 2013, looked beyond a number – 506 murders in Chicago in 2012 – exploring the impact that violence has had on families, communities, loved ones and others.
“One. One bullet. One gun. One hot summer’s night. One death. One city. One dream. One funeral. One father’s grief. One community’s scourge. One mother’s tears. One child’s fears. One,” Fountain wrote in the first few paragraphs of the first Jan. 24, 2013, column of the series, entitled “Murder tally’s biggest number: One.”
“What the series represented for me is getting at the totality of homicide,” said Fountain, who has taught several convergence journalism courses at Roosevelt that are themed around reporting on murder and violence.
“Oftentimes when the cameras are gone, I think the bigger story is missed, which is about the impact that homicide has and how that impact never goes away,” said Fountain, who, in the series wrote about: the shooting of six-month-old Jonylah Watkins; the murder of 18-year-old Frances Colon; the idea that conspiracies don’t come into play in the violence; and his own series of questions for all to consider regarding Chicago’s epidemic of murder.
“It’s clear to me that journalists have to write about the topic and we have to continue to cover the issue. Otherwise, it’s not going to go away,” said Fountain, who has won two Lisagors and has also been a finalist for Chicago’s top journalism award since becoming a Roosevelt professor.
Meyerson and the Rivet team received a Lisagor for innovative work developing a new smart phone application, Rivet News Radio, which delivers the latest news for free to listeners in Chicago and around the world in a fashion that is similar to the Pandora APP for music.
“It’s basically a build-your-own-news radio station giving listeners control over what they hear,” said Meyerson, who helped assemble a news organization of about 40 people, working in downtown Chicago studios across Adams Street from the Willis Tower. Since Rivet went live in the APP store in December 2013, the team has been working almost 24/7 to deliver the latest world and local Chicago news to people with iPhones all over the world.
“This is a service available to thousands of phone users, and our goal is to have 100,000 people listening to Rivet News Radio by the end of June,” said Meyerson, who has been teaching Journalism 319 News Reporting classes at Roosevelt. “My experience teaching at Roosevelt has helped me to become a better teacher and leader in the Rivet initiative,” he added.
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