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Professor John Fountain

Journalism professor John Fountain receives top award for column writing from Associated Press

Posted: 05/31/2012
John Fountain, a Roosevelt University journalism professor and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has received a first place award for column writing from the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association.
Fountain, a distinguished journalist and author who has taught full-time at Roosevelt since 2007, has been recognized by the AP in Illinois for columns appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2011.  The winning columns included a Dec. 29, 2011, piece headlined “The children die, their blood cries, under a school-day sun” as well as one that featured Fountain’s take on women’s hairstyles.

“I like to read a newspaper that has an interesting mix of good stories.  And I thought that contest judges might, in a similar fashion, be impressed that John could write such good columns in different ways,” said Paul Saltzman, the Chicago Sun-Times editor who nominated the professor’s work.
The winner of a Peter Lisagor award for exemplary journalism in 2010, Fountain said he was extremely honored by the recognition from editors at AP, which covers Illinois for a state and global audience serving newspapers, broadcast stations and their web sites.
“It says to me that my colleagues appreciate my craft and my passion – and I hope to be able to continue to write and make a contribution to the marketplace of ideas for a long time to come,” Fountain said.
“This award gives me an example of what’s possible that I can present to my students,” he added.  “It gives me the opportunity to let my students know that it is entirely possible to do the kind of work that will be appreciated and recognized by others in the field.”

Here is the text from one of Fountain's winning columns published by the Chicago Sun-Times in December 2011:

There are children here, though scarred and battered. Big dreams shattered. Big-city tattered. Ghetto fractured.

And sometimes, all that matters here is getting home safe each day, under each new school-day sun. Escaping bloody pools that run, sometimes like rivers here, on the darkest side of fear—cascading waterfalls of salty tears beneath their veneer of adult masks that cause some to wonder, to ask, "Where are the children, here?"

Hollow eyes stare into space. Mournful cries yearn for grace. And yet, little brown boys with baby faces, and little brown girls with curls and lace frolic on some golden, sun-drenched days. Jump rope with joy and laughter ablaze. Rough-house in vacant lots—play all day—while some stand afar gazing and still see: No children here.

But I see them. Brown, or black like me. Some scarred like me. Scared like me—once a ghetto child. Hardening—hearts half calcified—by life lived under the constant shadow of death, where chaos is the score that too often resounds between each breath. Here, where poverty hangs like a hornet's nest. Where hope unseen is still a treasure chest.
And children's dreams here are no less than the dreams of children anywhere—everywhere—even when muted by suffocating despair, by the nocturnal spray of gunfire piercing the air. That sometimes rouses them from their beds—recurring nightmare, living dread.
But there are children here. Even if some, even here, have said in haste—amid the waste of human hate, of murderous tides and hope-drained lakes, and snow-capped dreams that now lie forever frozen by icy fates—that there are no children here.

Tyesa. Dantrell. Rashonda. Diamond and Tionda.

Derrion Albert. Blair Holt. By the thousands. Too many to know.