Joe  Mathewson Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Joe Mathewson

Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Joe Mathewson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and practicing attorney, teaches ethics and law of journalism. He's the author of five books and numerous articles in newspapers, in magazines and online.


Before joining the Medill faculty in 1997, Joe Mathewson had a wide variety of professional and business experience in journalism, law, government and financial services. He covered the Supreme Court for the Wall Street Journal.


Law and Ethics for Today’s Journalist: A Concise Guide, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. (2013), a textbook for a combined ethics and law course.

The Supreme Court and the Press: The Indispensable Conflict, Foreword by Fred Graham, Evanston: Northwestern University Press (2011), describes these two institutions as interdependent, but never completely comfortable with each other, always (and still) capable of improving their communication of the Court’s important work to the general public.

Up Against Daley, LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court Publishing (1974), describing and assessing the independent political movement that elected a number of anti-Daley candidates to the Chicago City Council and the Illinois legislature in the 1960s and 1970s.

Journals, magazines, newsletters and online

“Where’s the appreciation for journalists?” Editor and Publisher, August 2013

“Our Man in Tokyo,” Northwestern magazine, Spring 2013

“March Madness: Big Bucks for Big Baskets in Illinois,”,
March 29, 2012

“Supreme Court Should Allow TV Cameras,” CNN online, February 2, 2012

“Who’s Guarding the Chicken Coop?” The Key Reporter (Phi Beta Kappa newsletter), Winter 2011; related video statement:

Book review: Justices and Journalists: The U.S. Supreme Court and the Media, by Richard Davis, American Journalism, Summer 2011

Book review: Literary Journalism on Trial: Masson v. New Yorker and the First Amendment, by Kathy Roberts Forde, Journalism Theory, Practice & Criticism, August 2010

Chicago and the Law,, 2010-2011:

“Black Robe, Black Mark: Chicago's Only Chief Justice” only-us.html
“Eugene V. Debs: Chicago Strike Leader to Prison to U.S. Icon” •
“Freedom of the Press-ure: Col. McCormick and The First Great Case”
“Myra Bradwell: Practicing Law is no Place for a Lady”
“The Son Also Rises: Robert Todd Lincoln”
“Henry Robbins and the Chicago Board of Trade”
“How a Chicago Grain Warehouse Made Constitutional Law”

“The Long and Strong Tradition of State Protection of Freedom of the Press,” American Journalism (journal of the American Journalism Historians Association), January 2009

“The Journal: Forget Murdoch, Go Nonprofit,”
Business Week online, July 20, 2007

“5 minutes with Joe Mathewson, Media visionary,” TimeOut Chicago, February 15, 2006

“Newspaper Saved! Newspaper Saved! Read All About It!”
Editor & Publisher online, December 8, 2005

“Jacob Arvey, Boss Emeritus”
Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, March 18, 1973, page I26

“Henry Maier Says the Cities Need Help”
Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Oct. 22, 1972, page 27

“Neil Hartigan: Successful Young Man in a Failing Machine”
Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Sept. 24, 1972, page G64


“Give Senior Citizens an Incentive to Keep Working Longer”
Chicago Sun Times, May 30, 2006, page 10

“Beyond Affirmative Action”
Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1998, page 19

“Courts Must Lead Fight Against Guns”
Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1994, page 18

“Small business' best friend? Small Banks”
Chicago Tribune, November 1, 1991, page 23

“How County Board Can Fight Crime”
Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1990, page 19

“Idle Property Should Be Recycled”
Chicago Tribune, Mar. 13, 1990, page 19

Dozens of page one “leaders” and editorial page articles for The Wall Street Journal, 1960-1965

Awards, Memberships, Licenses

AEJMC award (law and public policy division) for "The Long and Strong Tradition of State Guarantees of Freedom of the Press," tracing the development of the novel, robust, affirmatively-worded state constitutional protections of the freedom to publish, adopted in most of the 13 original states before the U.S. Constitution and subsequently embraced by all states; pointing out that current state law, both constitutional and statutory, is more staunch than federal counterparts, notably in enabling journalists to honor their commitments of confidentiality to sources. (I am a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, and these three divisions: Law and Policy, Newspaper and Online, and Ethics.)

American Bar Association award, 1971, for WBBM-TV documentary "Fair Press v. Fair Trial," on how journalists' advocacy of television coverage of trials, virtually nonexistent up to that time, was constrained by the rights of defendants, especially the right to an unbiased jury.

Former member and chair of the Illinois State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission; by law each state has a SAC, which conducts investigations, studies and public hearings on civil rights issues, such as police-community relations and affirmative action, and prepares reports for the Commission.

Trustee, Dartmouth College, 1987-1997

Former member of the Illinois Bar and the Florida Bar

Former certified securities arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers and holder of four NASD securities licenses

Formerly president and director of the National Organization on Disability (Washington, D.C.); director of the Better Government Association, Erie Neighborhood House, Chicago Archaeology Foundation, other not-for-profits

Former chair of United Way of Winnetka

Former elder and deacon of Winnetka Presbyterian Church


Dartmouth College, A.B. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, highest distinction in the     international relations major; A.M. (hon.)
Bologna Center, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, in Bologna, Italy: European politics and economics
University of Chicago Law School, J.D.

Courses Taught

Medill School

Ethics and Law of Journalism: a discussion course that traces the development and current state of the law of libel, privacy, access to courts and government documents, copyright and broadcast regulation, built around my textbook, Law and Ethics for Today’s Journalist: A Concise Guide, and select opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts; includes examination of some philosophical writings on ethics and the codes of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, The New York Times and others

Money and Markets: reporting and writing about business, finance and the economy in Medill’s Chicago newsroom, emphasizing earnings of publicly-held companies in the Chicago area, for the Medill News Service and the Medill Reports website


    A.B. Dartmouth, J.D. University of Chicago

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Coverage of business and the law; not-for-profit journalism; journalism history.


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist - ME Sharpe - 1st Edition book cover


Washington Lawyer

Books in the Law: September 2011

Published: Nov 11, 2015 by Washington Lawyer
Authors: Ronald Goldfarb

Justice Brennan articulated the intriguing conundrum created by the symbiotic relationship between the U.S. Supreme Court and the press. Each institution depends on the other: the Court deals regularly with First Amendment interpretations, which is the bible of the press, and the press gives voice to the public of the Court’s work. Each needs and depends on the other, and the public depends on both.

Chicago Sun-Times

Opinion: Bankruptcy is the only way out

Published: Aug 20, 2015 by Chicago Sun-Times
Authors: Joe Mathewson
Subjects: Economics, Finance, Business & Industry

The City of Chicago and other municipal governments in Illinois are in so far over their heads in bonded indebtedness and unpaid contributions to employee pension funds that the only realistic solution is to file for protection from creditors under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code and shave their obligations down to a manageable level.

Editor & Publisher

Shoptalk: Where's the Appreciation for Journalists?

Published: Feb 07, 2015 by Editor & Publisher
Authors: Joe Mathewson

The journalism profession and journalism schools need to communicate to college students of English and the humanities, usually last hired and least paid after graduation, that there is indeed an important place for them in the world of work: carrying on journalism's essential (and very gratifying) role in our democracy.

Put U.S. Supeme Court arguments on TV

Published: Feb 02, 2012 by
Authors: Joe Mathewson

The Supreme Court should follow the examples of state supreme courts and permit oral arguments, at least in highly-important cases like those challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, to be televised.


In light of major threats to our democracy. ethical journalism must adopt the purposeful ethics of care.

By: Joe Mathewson

My fifth book, "Ethical Journalism: Adopting the Ethics of Care," published by Routledge on August 31, 2021, advocates a more purposeful approach to journalism ethics, based on the ethics of care philosophy first articulated by feminist academics in the 1980s. By considering themselves obligated to care for people in need, ethical journalists should relentlessly, constructively cover three great threats to our democracy--racial inequity, economic disparity and climate change--to provoke public opinion and the movers and shakers of our society to take sufficient action to ameliorate and utlimately eliminate these threats. This care philosophy would replace the reason-based moral philosophy set forth by Immanuel Kant, John Locke, John Rawls and others, and instead embrace the empathetic philosophy of David Hume, while still observing the high-minded, admirable codes of ethics of major news organizations such as the Associated Press, The New York Times, Dow Jones & Co. (The Wall Street Journal), TEGNA, and The Washington Post, and the codes of respected professional associations such as the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio, Television, Digital News Organization.