Karen Lincoln Michel

Karen Lincoln Michel

Mission Week February 9, 2023

Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters
Conferred on Karen Lincoln Michel.

Karen Lincoln Michel has been recognized nationally for advancing diversity in news coverage and newsroom staffing through her distinguished career as an editor, publisher, writer, and reporter. Most notably, her leadership as president of ICT, formerly Indian Country Today, has transformed a traditional newspaper into a sustainable, nonprofit news organization expressed through a daily digital platform and a weekly newscast.  Now based at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, the new ICT produces quality journalism for and about America’s Indigenous people at a time when their identities are misrepresented or made invisible in mainstream media. Under Michel’s leadership, ICT also formed a separate nonprofit organization, IndiJ Public Media, to serve as its parent company.  As its CEO, she helped the organization gain its 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS, thus insuring ICT’s independence and financial viability.

A member of the Ho Chunk nation, Michel began her work as a reporter for the LaCrosse Tribune. She wrote for the Dallas Morning News before becoming Assistant Managing Editor for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Executive Editor at two Louisiana newspapers.  She went on to edit Madison Magazine.  Besides these outlets, her articles as a freelance journalist have appeared in The Washington Post, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Columbia Journalism Review, Native Americas and the American Indian.

ICT has a national focus and an international following.  Also on the national level, Michel served as the first female president of the Native American Journalists’ Association, and then completed two terms as president of UNITY: Journalists of Color, the largest organization of journalists in the country at the time.  She has served on the editorial board of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s magazine, Winds of Change.  Her column for The New York Times Syndicate’s “New America News Service” and her blog “Digital Native Americans” have spoken to broad audiences.  

Here in her home state, she has led the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Board of Directors; she also joined the editorial board of WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison.  For years she covered state politics for the Green Bay newspaper, and she is a current member of the Friends Board of PBS Wisconsin.

Michel is an active alumna of Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication.  In 2018, she invited her longtime mentor, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., former publisher of the New York Times, to visit Marquette and hold a session with journalism faculty and students on the state of journalism today.  She continues to hire, develop, and mentor young journalists.  Michel embodies the Jesuit educational ideals of other-centeredness, and the pursuit of faith, justice, and reconciliation.  She also witnesses to the enduring relevance of eloquentia perfecta, the Jesuit tradition of whole human beings speaking, writing, and acting for the common good.  For her outstanding service of God, nation, tribe, state, and Alma Mater, we ask you, President Lovell, to award Karen Lincoln Michel the Marquette University degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), honoris causa.