Abe Peck: Professor Emeritus-in-Service, Director of Business to Business Communications, Senior Director of Media Management Center, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism

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Bio:

I’m Abe Peck, and I multi-task. Academically, I direct business to business communications at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern Communications, after three decades of full-time teaching with aspiring magazine-makers, writers and editors. I also run programs for fast-track B2B executives. And for the third year, I and colleagues will escort students to Israel and Palestine for a journalism immersion experience.

Beyond the school, I bill myself as a “magazine chiropractor,” conducting brand content audits to aid clients in serving and leading audiences whatever the platform – I’ve done these in the U.S., UK and several Asian countries, for close to 100 titles. I write both issues and destinations stories as a Masters Series Contributing Editor for Travel Weekly, the leading magazine for travel agents. I’ve written and edited several books, from Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press – which draws on my own shake-it-up journalism during the late 1960s – to Medill on Media Engagement, which is rooted in “experience” research conducted by Medill’s Media Management Center. I wrote and edited at Rolling Stone, Outside and the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News, and freelance for other magazines. As the Grateful Dead would say, “what a long, strange trip it’s been."

My wife is an author and fillm-maker around the issue of bullying. One son is a leading music director in Chicago, the other is director of client services for o3mdm, an SEO, etc. agency based in Chennai, India.

What do you do best?

Working with young journalists is so rewarding that I continue to do it while living 1,500 miles from the Northwestern campus – my dean has joked that my home is our “West Coast Campus." Medill students are bright, hungry to do well and do good. Most important for a journalist, they’re curious.

What makes you the best?

Not thinking I am the best. Ironically, my ‘60s underground-press experience carries forward in a sense of collaboration and inventiveness. Much of my teaching is inductive and project-oriented even as I try to provide canonical knowledge about the world they seek to enter.  Working with great students and colleagues allows me to continue learning.

What are your aspirations?

Keep on keepin’ on.

Biggest Success?

Having interacted with perhaps 1,000 students, many of whom are active in a field I love.

Most Challenging Moment?

When the ‘60s surge fell apart, and with it some key beliefs I’d embraced. I was pretty blown out by struggles and excesses, to the point where I trekked around Europe, Egypt and Israel to clear my head. When I returned, I had to give myself permission to see if any journalistic talent I had could be executed personally rather than as part of a political movement. I hope I’ve not betrayed “either me."

Favorite Motto?

“(What’s so funny ‘bout) peace, love and understanding?” That title of a Nick Lowe / Elvis Costello song will be on my tombstone.

Favorite People?

Learners. Listeners. Humorous people. Tolerant people. As for specific names, Representative John Lewis remains a civil rights hero. Bill Maher is an important iconoclast.

Favorite Places?

Hong Kong, Manila, Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Mara River in Kenya during the animal migration – and Sweet Home Chicago and mellow Santa Barbara.

Favorite Products?

Even though it’s on the fritz today, my iPhone. Portable office, portable life.

Current Passions?

I was the 2015 student of the year at the Lau Kune Do School of Martial Arts in Santa Barbara, where I study tai chi and am now working on a double-sword form. I also sing doo wop regularly, and we actually survived an appearance at the Doo Wop Hall of Fame in L.A.