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Marquette University Alumni Association

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients

By-Line Award

John MachacekJOHN W. MACHACEK, JOUR '62
Centreville, Va.

Journalism was John’s passion no matter the kind of story he was covering, which he did for more than 40 years, winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his work on the education, city government and political beats, among others.

“Piecing together a little-known person’s interesting life story for his or her obituary was as fascinating as exposing the improprieties of public figures,” he says.

John was a longtime New York correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Gannett News Service. During his time, the company had as many as nine newspapers in New York, giving his stories what he calls “considerable reach and impact.” Before Gannett, John had a short stint at the then-Milwaukee Sentinel, then worked for the Albany (N.Y.) Knickerbocker News from 1964–67 and Gannett’s Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union from 1967–83.

At Rochester in 1972, John shared the Pulitzer Prize with another reporter for deadline reporting on the Attica prison rebellion. He says their reporting changed the public attitude about what had happened at the prison. In 1973, he was one of two Times-Union reporters who shared a first-place award from the National Council for the Advancement of Education Writing for coverage of the Rochester school integration crisis. John also received a Professional Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for the 1973–74 academic year.

“It was highly rewarding and satisfying work for someone who always wanted to be a reporter,” he says. “I think Marquette and a Jesuit education prepared me well for every step of the way toward a successful career. Marquette and its J-school were always an inspiration.”

Retired since 2006, John hopes to do some travel writing and is a member of Washington’s Holy Trinity Church, a Jesuit parish connected to Georgetown University where he is a Eucharistic minister.

Fun Facts

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Favorite books: "The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I’m a history buff who likes the book’s rich detail about two presidents and their relationship with the press.

"The Science of Single by Rachel Machacek, my daughter, because it gave me a real opportunity to understand her thoughts and feelings."

Dream dinner date: "The late Ben Bradlee, Washington Post editor."

Marquette faculty who had an impact on you: "Don Ross, my first journalism professor, who taught my first reporting class and gave me a glimpse of what hard-nosed reporting should be like, and Jim Arnold, another journalism professor, who built on Ross’ fine work."

Favorite Marquette memory: "Covering for The Marquette Tribune the day that Marquette dropped football my junior year. The story won an award for college news writing from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation."

Grade school ambitions: "I remember always wanting to work for a newspaper. Sports writing was the initial attraction and led me to striking up a relationship in high school with the sports staff of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. I also remember starting an eighth-grade newspaper, which sparked a "newspaper war" with another classmate who launched his own paper. We printed our newspapers by hand on notebook paper. In high school, I became a stringer covering my school’s baseball games. I guess it was just a fascination with print."

Most influential persons in your life: "My parents because they taught me strong values on how to live my life."