Norma Fay Green
Brenda Starr wannabe Norma Fay Green was drawn to Chicago from her suburban Detroit roots for graduate study at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Even as a cub reporter for her campus daily at Michigan State University, she was intrigued by the Windy City’s legendary journalism competition that, while dwindling to a mere four metro dailies by the 1970s, routinely referenced the Hecht & MacArthur era. After 25 years in newspaper, magazine and book publishing in Illinois and Michigan, Norma committed to a full-time college teaching career. Once enrolled in doctoral studies back at MSU, she decided to explore the portrayal of journalists, particularly the occupational mythology manifest in novels, on stage and screen that seemed to influence so many people to take up journalism. After seeing various journalism plays and films (including the 1931 movie version of The Front Page shown in the old Cook County Criminal Courts building in the old Press Room as part of a special Journalism Film Festival sponsored by the Chicago Headline Club and the Film Center of the Art Institute), she settled on The Front Page as the Urtext — the canonical work of American journalism cultural heritage of the 20th century — to explore in her dissertation. She immersed herself in research on the original play, its creators, its reviews and then adaptation into an early CBS TV show, several teleplays, a record album and later theatrical adaptations, including a musical and even a sci-fi novel. She was privileged to comb the inner sanctum of The Newberry Library Ben Hecht Collection with curator Diana Haskell.
Today she is a recovering reporter and Professor of Journalism and Director of Graduate Journalism at Columbia College Chicago where she teaches undergraduates and master’s students. Media history is one of her specializations and her course repertoire includes: History of Journalism, Journalism Culture: Trends & Traditions, News Writing, Reporting, Copy Editing, Media Ethics & Law and guest lectures on magazines, television, journalists as authors, women in the media and business. She has supervised more than 100 graduate thesis projects over the past 17 years. In 2006, she was the moderator of Chicago Humanities Festival Summer Institute for Teachers on “Modern American Journalism: Facing Human Conflict” and campaigned to bring in the playwright and actors from TimeLine’s Martin Furey’s Shot to perform and discuss the work. She serves on the editorial review board of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture Journal, Norman Lear Center at Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California.
Over the years, she has won national awards for her historical research and curriculum development and Columbia has recognized her for teaching excellence and service to students. In addition to hundreds of bylined news articles, she has contributed to 10 scholarly books and key refereed journals in her discipline including chapters and articles about Chicago’s Bohemian journalists. She is a recipient of Fulbright Senior Scholar and Fulbright-Hays awards as well as grants from the Ford Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism and Poynter Institute and Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication /Freedom Forum faculty fellowships. A past president of the Chicago chapter of Women in Communications, she has been a guest speaker for the Chicago Press Veterans, Society of Professional Journalists and Chicago Women in Publishing as well as internationally at the Oxford Round Table, Dublin Institute of Technology and the American University in Cairo.