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University presents Mike Jacobs, publisher of Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, as Distinguished Lecturer

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The University of Maine at Presque Isle brings the editor and publisher of a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper to the region when it hosts journalist Mike Jacobs as its second Distinguished Lecturer of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Jacobs will offer a free community workshop titled Replacing Place in Modern Communities? on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Campus Center. The next day, he will deliver a Distinguished Lecture titled Just How Anxious Are We? A Report from the Field on Media in America at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7, in the Campus Center.

Jacobs, the editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and the recipient of several top journalism awards, brings to these events more than 40 years of journalism experience, including the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning coverage his North Dakota newspaper provided in the wake of flooding, a blizzard and a fire that devastated much of Grand Forks in the spring of 1997.

Tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee the twin cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota, during this time. Although the newspaper had lost its facilities and equipment in the disaster, it never missed a day of publication and, for months, was a lifeline that sustained the community, giving people the information they needed to cope and helping them to move forward - an example of service journalism at its finest. Jacobs will weave his reflections on some of the newspaper's and community's experiences into his workshop and lecture, and discuss the importance of service and community journalism.

During his Oct. 7 lecture, he will explore the implications of changing demographics, economics and technology on all types of media, focusing on newspapers. The talk will include a review of trends in the newspaper industry, including financial implications of demographic and technological changes - all of this from the point of view of a small city newspaper editor with more than 40 years of experience in the trenches.

During his workshop on Oct. 6, Jacobs will lead a facilitated discussion about what is critical to community: shared space, shared tradition, shared interests or ideologies, and shared technology. The workshop will identify what communities meeting these definitions need to be vital - to ensure their own survival in a rapidly changing world. The role of media and the practice of community journalism will get special attention.

Jacobs grew up on a farm in Mountrail County, N.D., and was educated at the University of North Dakota and Seattle University. Before joining the Herald, he worked for newspapers in Fargo and Dickinson, N.D., and St. Louis, Mo., and for the North Dakota Farmers Union. He was named editor of the Herald in 1984 and editor and publisher in 2003.

During his tenure as editor, the Herald won the North Dakota Newspaper Association's general excellence award 15 times, and was named one of America's best small daily newspapers by the American Society of Newspaper Editors [ASNE]. In 1998, the Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, American journalism's highest award, for maintaining publication during a flood and fire that devastated Grand Forks. That same year, Jacobs was named editor of the year by the National Press Foundation and won ASNE's distinguished writing award for a series of editorials about flood recovery.

Jacobs is past president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association and a past member of ASNE board of directors. He is president of the North Valley Arts Council, a member of the Grand Forks Business, Government, Education Alliance, and serves on an international task force studying the future of the Lake Winnipeg watershed. He is a past member of the board of the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Forks, United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region, the International Peace Garden and the North Dakota Heritage Foundation. He is assistant governor for District 5580 (North Dakota, northern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Ontario) for Rotary International. He is also an elder and member of the session of Gilby Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Suezette Bieri live on a farmstead northwest of Grand Forks, where they are active birders, gardeners and walkers. They also own a ranch in northwestern North Dakota.

The University's Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

Jacobs' lecture and workshop at UMPI are free and the public is invited to be a part of these special events. For more information, please contact the University's Media Relations Office at 769-9452.