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Medill Lecturer Likens Blog to 'Daily Pulitzer Prize'

“News Gems” -- a popular Web blog created by Northwestern University Medill School lecturer Jon Marshall -- has been named one of the top 10 blogs of 2006 by U.S. News & World Report.

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January 16, 2007 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “News Gems” -- a popular Web blog created by Northwestern University Medill School lecturer Jon Marshall -- has been named one of the top 10 blogs of 2006 by U.S. News & World Report.

Marshall likens “News Gems,” which features the best of U.S. journalism, to a “daily Pulitzer Prize.” He began the blog in summer 2005 in response to growing criticism of the news industry and as a teaching tool for his students. “News Gems” is located at http://spj.org/blog/blogs/newsgems/.

“For some big ethical lapses a few bad journalists were giving all journalists a black eye,” says Marshall. “I started 'News Gems' to remind readers of the reporters and editors who break their backs each day to come up with good, accurate stories.” The blog is now sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.

David E. Kaplan, U.S. News & World Report chief investigative reporter and top 10 blog list author, placed “News Gems” and “Extra, Extra,” a blog by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., at the very top of his list for similar reasons.

“When I get depressed over the state of the U.S. news media (which is often) I turn to News Gems and Extra, Extra. Here are daily looks at journalism at its best. Reminds me why I got into this biz,” Kaplan wrote.

Marshall says “News Gems” includes writing from the “usual suspects” -- New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post -- as well as smaller outlets. In Marshall's own top 12 stories of 2006 list, there are not only stories from NBC, PBS and the New York Times but also the East Bay Express, Christian Science Monitor and The Arizona Daily Star.

Producing “News Gems” has been a learning experience for Marshall as well as his readers. “I'm more aware of the differences between writing for the Web, print or broadcast and about the ways that people today get their news,” he says.

“I used to think that because my students weren't reading newspapers that they were less informed than students of my own and their parents' generation. Now I think -- with the kind of links that you get when using the Web -- they actually may be more informed about those particular things that matter to them, whether it's business, sports or politics.”

A self-confessed news junkie, Marshall spends late nights reading the news to make selections for his blog. “My wife says I've just found a way to get paid for what I love,” he says.