Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


Celebrating Journalism and Service: Jill Geisler, 2022 Winner of the Larry Burkum Service Award


Geisler at Tiger's Nest, Bhutan


What does it look like to craft a life of journalism into a life of service? For Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication (SOC), they would declare with unyielding conviction "Jill Geisler ."As the school's Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity and Fellow of the Freedom Forum in Women’s Leadership, she has also won this year's Larry Burkum Service Award. According to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), “Larry Burkum served the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism Division... as secretary, newsletter editor and webmaster from 1995 to 2005" (Harrison, 2022). This prestigious award was named in Burkum's honor to recognize an electronic journalist or journalism educator who has demonstrated exceptional service to the profession. 


Geisler has made decades-long contributions to the world of broadcast journalism. She began her career in television news as a reporter, producer, photographer, and anchor before becoming one of America’s first women to serve as news director of a leading market TV network affiliate at age 27. Geisler continues to be regarded internationally as a thought-leader in her field and a well-sought-after mentor and coach. Her ongoing dedication to cultivating ethical journalists and increasing the relevance of compassion and diversity in the management practices of the media industry confirms the felicitousness of her award. 


Unraveling the many years she has invested in pioneering the expansive modernity of present-day journalism by artfully merging theory with practice is as inspirational as it is pedagogical. In a recent interview, the Larry Burkum award winner shared insights from her experience in the field. For example, while discussing the significance of ethics and transparent reporting, Geisler stated, “[It is] about knowing that you have to apply a processyou could explain to anyone when you are [deciding] what you cover, how you cover it, and why...” Geisler laid bare the vital thought processes accompanying mindful journalism by emphasizing, "[It is] not about doing right or wrong. [It is] about balancing multiple rights and multiple wrongs… How do we talk about something like 9/11 in a way that is accurate to history without re-traumatizing people? You [cannot] balance the two without thinking about the value of both very clearly. And being able to define it and explain it helps you do that." 



After 25 years of working in journalism, Geisler has answered the call to maximize her expertise in broadcast journalism, compassionate storytelling, and leadership by transitioning from a practitioner to a hands-on, fully-engaged mentor and educator. "It's why [I have] been an advisor for the JAWS, the Journalism & Women Symposium. It’s why I have volunteered with so many projects with the Radio Television Digital News Association, or RTDNA,” Geisler shared, as she emphasized the importance of advocacy, giving back, and collaboration. Even Loyola's relationship with Report for America has https://www.luc.edu/soc/valuesstatement/its roots in "community" and innovative learning, two values Geisler treasures at SOC. "…whenever I'm presenting anywhere, I give everyone in the room my email address and tell them if they ever encounter a challenge or an opportunity in journalism, I’m only an email away.”  


Without a doubt, the legacy of Geisler's impact on the journalism profession, as hallmarked by the 2022 Larry Burkum Award, is a tale of the integrity, commitment, and skill fueling world change through service. It is a beaconing light to those seeking out their life’s work through the art and power of communication to answer the call to advocate for important issues, engage people who may otherwise go unseen, and amplify the voices of the unheard. Enjoy our entire interview and the first episode of SOC's Stories of the Called at SOC Studio’s podcast with Geisler to uncover more of her rich insights and experiences. 


In celebration of her achievement and years of service, we invite all to attend the 2022 Larry Burkum Award celebration during the AEJMC convention in Detroit, Michigan, on August 4, 2022. The event will take place at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. For more information, please contact Laura Smith. Celebrate her spirit of continuous learning by streaming Geisler’s Inclusive Leadership session (which is also part of herLoyola Master Class for Media Managers) for free. Finally, please consider making a gift and partnering with us to develop ethical professionals with the knowledge and dedication to make a lasting contribution through communication and service worldwide. Contact Heba Madi at hmadi@luc.edu, or visit the Office of Advancement for more information.