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MPI Presents: News Literacy, Fake News and the First Amendment

September 4, 2017

Join us Sept. 20 for a one-day seminar on increasing your news literacy to better report stories for your audiences.

The one-day seminar — “News Literacy, Fake News and the First Amendment” —  will cover how to recognize and verify news, the role of the First Amendment and how to combat fake news.

Deadline to register is Tuesday, Sept. 8. The seminar will be at Briar Ridge Country Club 123 Country Club Drive Schererville, IN 46375

Stephanie Craft and Ben Holden, both of the College of Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Peter Adams of the News Literacy Project in Chicago will lead the day’s sessions.

Cost is $30 for MPI members, $35 for non-members and $20 for students. Lunch is included. Register online at

For more information, please contact MPI co-director Pam Dempsey at

Peter Adams is the News Literacy Project’s senior vice president for educational programs and is based in Chicago. Peter began his career in education as a classroom teacher in the New York City schools through Teach For America. He has also taught in the Chicago public schools and at Roosevelt University and Chicago City Colleges’ Wilbur Wright campus. In addition, he has worked with the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, with After School Matters and as an independent education consultant.

Stephanie Craft is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Illinois. Her research addresses news literacy, press practices and journalism ethics. With funding from the McCormick Foundation, Craft and two colleagues developed a measure of news literacy and conducted research demonstrating a relationship between news literacy and political participation and conspiracy theory endorsement. Her work has appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, International Journal of Public Opinion Research and Journalism Educator. With Charles Davis, she is author of the journalism textbook Principles of American Journalism, published by Routledge. Before earning a PhD at Stanford University, Craft worked as a newspaper journalist.

Ben Holden teaches media law and news reporting in the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign College of Media and is a visiting faculty member at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. He was formerly an associate professor and director of the Reynolds National Center for Courts & Media at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The Center is an affiliate of the National Judicial College on the UNR campus. Mr. Holden’s media consulting work includes assignments in the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo) on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. State Department to aid judges, journalists, and public information officers in developing professional press coverage of the courts. Previously, he practiced law at the Bay Area media law firm Cooper, White & Cooper and was Editor-in-Chief of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., a McClatchy newspaper. He spent his daily news reporting career at The Wall Street Journal, where he was eventually the Journals national utilities correspondent.


For nearly 50 years, Mid-America Press Institute has trained hundreds of journalists and students in the Midwest through affordable seminars that connect experts, veteran reporters and industry leaders with its members to increase their skill set and networking opportunities. Visit online at or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MidAmericaPress

New leadership, new home for Mid-America Press Institute

September 4, 2017

The Mid-America Press Institute, a newsroom training association approaching its fifth decade, has relocated to Champaign, Illinois, and is now under new management.

The move was finalized August 1.

The Mid-America Press Institute, a nonprofit offering low-cost training to mid-career journalists, built its membership from newspapers across the Midwest and had been located at Eastern Illinois University since 1994.

Management of MPI is overseen by part-time co-directors, Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois, and Pam Dempsey, the executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, an online, nonprofit newsroom covering agribusiness and related issues.

“As journalism faces greater challenges than ever before, it’s exciting to see MPI focused on the future with new leadership and a renewed commitment to providing affordable, relevant training for mid-career journalists. Brant and Pam are a solid team,” said Erin Orr, managing editor for The Times Media Co. and MPI board member. “With MPI’s move to Champaign and its involvement with the Knight Chair at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Brant and Pam’s leadership, we expect MPI’s presence to grow, our membership to become more vibrant and diverse, and our workshops to more deeply reflect the needs of today’s journalists.”

Before joining the university in 2007, Houston was executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors for more than decade and a database editor and investigative reporter at newspapers for 17 years. He is author of four editions of “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide” and co-author of two editions of “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook”. He also has been involved in the growth on nonprofit newsrooms in the U.S.

He has organized and spoken at more than 400 workshops and conferences over the past 20 years.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to work with MPI and not only help to improve the skills of professional journalists, but also to bring students together with those journalists as we prepare the next generation for the newsroom,” Houston said.

Dempsey, a former reporter for The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, is a veteran journalist covering agribusiness and has reported on local and regional government, health, housing and Native American government through investigative and enterprise stories. Dempsey has helped develop many community engagement projects and coordinate the start-up of two online newsrooms. She also helped organize and run national and regional workshops for reporters and worked closely with Illinois Public Media.

“We are very excited to be part of MPI’s next chapter to better serve its members as we build upon the strong efforts of years past through the expanded power of our combined networks and resources,” Dempsey said.

MPI is now housed within the offices of Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Long-time director, John Ryan, retired as executive director in July from MPI.

“John Ryan and Eastern Illinois University are the best friends MPI has ever had. And MPI has had many wonderful friends and supporters over its nearly 50-year history,” said Dan Corkery, managing editor of The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, and current chairman of the MPI board of directors. “Whether he was organizing a seminar, lining up speakers or chasing down lunch, John kept MPI moving forward — even when newspapers unwisely cut back on training.”

MPI, along with its foundation, was previously located at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston where Ryan taught.

Ryan served nearly eight years as executive director.

During his tenure, Ryan organized, directed and oversaw dozens of training seminars, raised thousands of dollars in donations and provided a strong base of resources for journalists across the area.

MPI’s initial home was at Southern Illinois University between 1968 through 1992, when it moved to the journalism school at the University of Kansas.

In 1994, MPI relocated to Eastern Illinois University under the leadership of John David Reed, who retired from the faculty in 2004 but remains emeritus and continued to serve MPI until 2009.

John Ryan became executive director in 2009 and continued in the position, even after his own retirement from the university’s faculty in 2015. He now remains an emeritus professor.

“John Ryan played an instrumental role in helping MPI work through the period after the economic collapse of 2008-09, which saw many newsrooms suffer significant staffing reductions and the loss of money for training. Overnight, we had to move to a different workshop model that would allow MPI to continue to offer affordable, valuable mid-career training to journalists,” said Margaret Holt, standards editor at the Chicago Tribune, a former MPI board chair and a current board member. “John reached out to numerous partners in press associations as well as newsrooms across the heartlands to make this work. Whether it was helping focus a workshop or turning up with discount store pop and doughnuts at our seminars, John kept things going. His work was invaluable and will always be appreciated.”


Investigative reporting seminar set

May 15, 2017

Mid-America Press Institute will hold a two-day seminar on investigative reporting June 8-9 at the University of Illinois College of Media, 810 Wright St., Urbana, Ill.

Participants may attend one or both days of the seminar.
The first day will cover the fundamentals of investigative reporting – better interviewing and cultivating sources, getting a document state of mind, using databases for investigations, using FOIA for investigations, writing and verifying the investigative story. All of this will be for journalists who have a beat to cover and may have limited resources.
The second day will concentrate on data journalism for investigations with a full half day of hands-on training.
Registration for MPI members is $25 for those attending just the first day and $50 for those attending both days. Non-members are welcome but registration is $10 more. To register, email MPI Executive Director John Ryan at
Brant Houston will lead the two-day seminar. Houston is the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois.

Next up for MPI: Digital Reporting May 17 at State Journal-Register, Springfield

March 21, 2017

Mid-America Press Institute will once again team up with Google News to offer a digital news gathering seminar May 17 at The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.

Mike Reilley, Google News Labs Trainer and Business Development Director, will lead the seminar on digital newsgathering, mobile reporting and data analysis and visualization. In essence, Reilly will show reporters and editors how to use Google more effectively in their newsrooms.

In the fall, Reilley led MPI seminars on digital reporting at The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill. and at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They were well received and attended.

To register, email MPI Executive Director John Ryan at Registration is $25 for MPI members, $30 for non-members, and includes lunch.

MPI also is planning seminars on investigative reporting in June, fake news and news literacy in September and ethics and social justice in October.

Management seminar set for Feb. 18 at The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill.

January 11, 2017

Mid-America Press Institute will hold a management seminar for newsroom leaders on Saturday, Feb. 18, at The Daily Herald, 155 E. Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Jill Geisler, formerly affiliated with the Poynter Institute and currently the Bill Plante Chair of Leadership and Management Integrity at Loyola University, Chicago, will lead the one-day seminar.

Seminar topics include “Ten Things Great Bosses Know,” Assessing and Upgrading Your Culture,” “Feedback With Impact,” and “Accountability and Challenging Conversations.”

“Ms. Geisler seminar on leadership and management is exceptional,” said John Ryan, MPI executive director. “It is inspirational for all managers, especially editors facing their first assignment supervising staffers.”

Last year, Geisler led a similar seminar for MPI in March in Indianapolis, Ryan said. “It was the best management seminar we’ve ever held.”

She will cover two of the same topics she did a year ago but will add two new sessions, he said. Her sessions are interactive.

To register for the seminar, email Ryan at Registration for the seminar is $40 for members and $50 for non-members. Lunch is included in the registration fee. The seminar will run from 930 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

In the past, participants needing to stay over have stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, 2111 S. Arlington Heights Road, 847-956-1400, which is just a few blocks from the Daily Herald. Several other motels are in the vicinity, too.





2017 membership drive under way

December 14, 2016

Mid-America Press Institute’s 2017 membership drive is under way. Membership entitles staff members of news organizations to attend MPI’s five annual seminars at a discount rate. MPI held seminars on management/leadership, watchdog journalism, education coverage and digital reporting in 2016, and is currently planning seminars for 2017. Contact Executive Director John Ryan,, if you would like to join and help support low-cost, mid-career training for working journalists.

Two digital reporting seminars set for fall; one in Chicago area, one in St. Louis

September 19, 2016

There’s still time to register for one of Mid-America Press Institute’s fall seminars. MPI is teaming with Google News to offer a digital news gathering seminar in two locations.

Mike Reilley, Google News Labs Trainer and Business Development Director, will lead two day-long seminars on digital news gathering, mobile reporting and data analysis and visualization.

The first seminar will be Wednesday, Sept. 28, at The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill. The second seminar will be Monday, Oct. 17, at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

To register, email MPI Executive Director John Ryan at Registration is $25 and includes lunch