Whitaker Named Director of Academy for Alternative Journalism

Returns to Medill after stint at Ebony magazine

Charles Whitaker, who returns to the Medill School of Journalism this spring as a full-time professor, will direct Medill’s summer Academy for Alternative Journalism.

Whitaker, who has a BS and MS degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, is a senior editor at Chicago-based Ebony magazine, the nation’s preeminent publication aimed at an African-American audience.

An adjunct professor at the Medill School of Journalism since 1990, Whitaker left Ebony and joined the Medill faculty as a full-time assistant professor in 1992. He has taught graduate level seminars in media management and media ethics, in addition to courses in news writing, magazine writing and editing. He remained a full-time member of the faculty until January 1999 when he returned to Ebony full-time.

On his return this spring, Whitaker will also teach undergraduate magazine editing.

“I missed the constant interaction with students that you have as a full-time faculty member,” Whitaker tells Inside Medill News. “When the prospect of directing the Academy also was put before me, it made the return that much more appealing.”

Professor Abe Peck said he was “delighted” to have Whitaker back. “Special thanks go to [Adjunct] Stephan Garnett for his stewardship of the Academy while Charles was at Ebony.”

The Academy, aimed at encouraging budding minority journalists to consider careers in alternative journalism, receives support from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and several individual papers, in particular the Chicago Reader and the New Times group.

The recruitment process for the 10 Academy fellows begins this week with classified ads that will be distributed through AAN’s classified advertising network, AAN CAN. Later this week, AAN also will distribute display ads to member papers for voluntary placement.

Whitaker began his career in 1981 as a staff writer for The Miami Herald, covering municipal government and education in Palm Beach and Dade counties. In 1984, he joined The Louisville (Ky.) Times as a feature writer.

Whitaker joined the staff of Ebony in 1985 as an associate editor and feature writer. He became senior associate editor in 1987, senior staff editor in 1989 and was promoted to senior editor in 1990.

Whitaker served as a faculty member and admissions chairman of EXPOSURE, a journalism workshop series for Chicago-area high school students, and served as managing editor and faculty member for journalism workshops sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He also presided over the relaunch of Medill’s Academy for Future Journalists, a 10-week summer program designed to encourage talented minority college students to consider careers in journalism.

Whitaker is the author of “The Whitaker Report,” a statistical analysis of the hiring of women and minorities in the magazine industry, which appeared in the Sept. 1, 1995 and September 1997 issues of Folio: magazine, a publication dedicated to management issues in the magazine industry.

Whitaker, his wife, Stephanie, and their two sons, Joshua and Christopher, live in Oak Park, Ill.

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