Helen Gurley Brown Research Chair
Charles Whitaker is the Helen Gurley Brown Research Chair in Magazine Journalism. He was named a Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor in 2004 and was awarded the Northwestern Alumni Association’s Excellence in Teaching award in 2005.
He teaches courses in magazine writing and editing and is one of the rotating directors of Medill’s acclaimed Magazine Publishing Project, an enterprise in which a team of graduate students is guided through the paces of a new magazine launch or works in collaboration with an existing publishing company to reinvigorate the editorial and business approach of an existing magazine.
Whitaker directs the Academy for Alternative Journalism, a summer fellowship program devoted to training young writers and reporters for work at the 120 member publications of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.
He also serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of The Students Publishing Co., the entity charged with the fiscal stewardship of the award-winning student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, and Syllabus, the school yearbook.
Before rejoining the Medill faculty in the spring of 2002 (he had taught at Northwestern full-time in the 1990s), Whitaker was a senior editor at Ebony magazine, where he covered a wide range of cultural, social and political issues and events on four continents, including two U.S. presidential campaigns and the installation of the first black members of the British Parliament.
Prior to joining the Ebony staff, Whitaker worked in the early 1980s as a newspaper reporter at the Miami Herald and the Louisville (Ky.) Times. He has received commendations for his work from a number of journalism societies, including The National Association of Black Journalists, The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Education Writers Association.
He has contributed articles to the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Jet Magazine, Essence Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Saturday Evening Post, Chicago Parent magazine, and Folio, the magazine of the magazine industry. In addition, he is an editorial consultant to CATALYST magazine, a publication devoted to coverage of Chicago’s school reform movement.
Whitaker also has served as a final judge and screener for the Association of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards, and is an adviser on issues of diversity to the Magazine Publishers of America. He has also authored four statistical analyses of the hiring of women and minorities in the magazine industry.
He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from Medill.
He lives in Oak Park, Ill with his wife, Stephanie, and their two sons, Joshua and Christopher.