Zekman to speak at NINA convention

By Michael Berg

Students interested in learning about investigative reporting will get the opportunity next week as the head of Chicago’s WBBM-TV investigative reporting team will speak at Northern Illinois Newspaper Association’s fall convention.

Pam Zekman was chosen by NINA because “she is a known journalist who is likely to interest a number of people,” said Donald Brod, NIU journalism department chairman.

“Besides her current activities on Channel 2, she has many year’s experience as a newspaper investigative reporter,” he said.

Zekman has earned many awards for her reporting, including the NIU Journalism Department’s Journalist of the Year award in 1979.

Brod said Zekman mainly was chosen by the committee for the award because of an investigation she did for the Chicago Sun-Times, in which the Sun-Times purchased a bar that violated city codes.

Zekman kept documents of city inspectors who came to the bar. Instead of offering remedies, the inspectors asked for bribes to overlook the improprieties.

Some of Zekman’s stories have led to government reforms and police action.

Services in the city of Chicago have been changed through her exposure of the fire department’s inadequate ambulance service and exposure of unsafe CTA trains.

Zekman uncovered the largest Medicaid fraud scheme in history that led to the convictions of the doctors and pharmacists involved.

She also uncovered insurance fraud malpractice in outpatient clinics, which led to clinic closings and revocation of many doctor’s licenses.

Among other speakers at the convention are Wanda Bain, special sections coordinator of the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Bob Shaw of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, and Marx Gibson of the Joliet Herald News.

The convention’s topics include the professional relationships between reporters and editors, the decline in newspaper readers, the selling of newspaper ads in a tight economy, and tips for disaster-covering.

The convention will be Friday, Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. at the Holmes Student Center. A reception, sponsored by NINA, will follow at 3:30 p.m.