Image from Northwestern Medill’s Faculty page.
By Cayla Clements
Charles Whitaker is the Associate Dean of Journalism and a Helen Gurley Brown Professor in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. He also teaches courses in Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies and the High School Journalism Institute, also called the Cherub Program.
After earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Medill, Whitaker began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter at the Miami Herald. After working at the Herald, Whitaker worked as a deputy feature editor and enterprise feature and arts writer for the Louisville (Ky.) Times and later served as a senior editor of Ebony Magazine, where he covered issues and events such as two U.S. presidential campaigns and the installation of the first black members of the British Parliament.
Whitaker joined the Medill faculty in 1993, and has taught courses in news writing, magazine writing, magazine editing and blogging. He was one of the rotating directors for the Magazine Publishing Project within Medill’s graduate program where a team of students developed a new magazine or worked in collaboration with an existing publishing company to reinvigorate the editorial and business approach of an existing magazine.
In 2004, Whitaker was a Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor and was awarded the Northwestern Alumni Association’s Excellence in Teaching award in 2005. Within the student body at Northwestern University, Whitaker was given the “student choice” award in 2013 by the Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council. Whitaker has been on the university’s Associated Student Government’s faculty honor roll more than 10 times. He has received acclamations for his work from journalism societies such as The National Association of Black Journalists, The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Education Writers.
In 2014, Whitaker co-authored the textbook “Magazine Writing,” which examines the magazine industry and deconstructs the art of feature writing for consumer and Business-to-business publications. He has also authored four statistical analyses of the hiring of women and minorities in the magazine industry. Whitaker serves as a judge for the National Magazine Awards and the International Regional Magazine Awards Association. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Human Development and Social Policy in Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, with research that examines the ontological and methodological similarities and differences between immersion journalism and social science field research and what practitioners in each discipline can learn from the other.
Devoting much of his career to minorities in the magazine industry, Whitaker is one of the co-curators of the Ida B. Wells Award, presented by both Medill and the National Association of Black Journalists, which is given to individuals who are working to increase newsroom diversity and improve the coverage of communities of color.
In addition to his expansive career as an educator in journalism, Whitaker has contributed articles to the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Essence Magazine, Jet Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Saturday Evening Post, Chicago Parent magazine, and Folio, the magazine of the magazine industry.
Charles Whitaker is NABJ-NU Faculty Advisor as well, and helps the Exec Team lead meetings and develop new ideas fore the future of NABJ-NU. He also frequents the Medill buildings, Fisk Hall and the McCormick Tribune Center, often! If you see him say hello!