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Barry Schrader


I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Retired NIU journalism grad
returns for an award

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist.............................May 4, 2017

A longtime newspaper friend of mine recently came back to his roots in DeKalb to receive a lifetime achievement award in journalism.

Fred Dickey and I were young Huskies just out of college in the 1960s when we both owned weekly newspapers, mine in Genoa and his in Seneca-Marseilles. We got to reconnect and reminisce about our "early days" when he returned to Northern Illinois University, where he was honored at an April 21 banquet as the Donald R. Grubb Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

After leaving NIU, he took much the same path as I did, migrating to California for a newspaper job, including becoming the top editor of the Oakland Tribune, and Sunday editor of the San Jose Mercury-News, two major dailies in the state. He now lives in coastal Cardiff by the Sea, a suburb of San Diego. I know he had a distinguished career, having been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times in his life.

Fred Dickey accepted the Donald R. Grubb Distinguished Journalism Alumnus of the Year award at a banquet recently at NIU. With him is Dr. Grubb's widow Ruby. (Provided photo)

A 1957 DeKalb High School graduate, he is past president of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors.

In his acceptance speech, he urged that Reavis Hall, where NIU's communications department is housed, should be renamed for Dr. Donald Grubb, the founder of the journalism program at NIU. He recalled that Grubb was determined to make the journalism department one of the best in the nation - which he did.

Since retiring, Dickey has been freelancing for Los Angeles Times Magazine, as well as writing a weekly people column for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"For the LA Times, I primarily write about issues," he said. "For the Union-Tribune, my subjects have been interesting and unsung people, from those who have faced hardship to those who caused it - the human parade."

"I write about the overlooked people who do remarkable, even heroic things: disabled people who find productive jobs within their capability; children who survive nightmare family situations and make the honor roll; mothers who gather up children and flee abusive husbands," he said. "I find a homeless person more interesting than a typical millionaire."

In a separate discussion we had afterward, he demonstrated he's lost none of the candor that marked his journalistic career."I still follow developments at NIU, and I'm greatly bothered by the way the president's office is being handled," he said. "Frankly, when the incumbent's contract ends, I'd like to see Dennis Barsema named to the job. He's a tremendously successful businessman, a straight shooter and a loyal alumnus who has demonstrated his love for NIU with his deep pocketbook."

Dickey points out that other universities have turned to successful business executives for leadership, especially when mired in financial or marketing problems. He said the results have been largely successful. He once met Barsema at a San Diego football game alumni event and was impressed with the conversation they had.

Every time Dickey returns to his hometown, he said, "I always go back to California a little wistfully - especially if it's not February."

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115