The Northern Star inducted six alumni into its Hall of Fame during a Saturday, March 2, banquet at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

The Northern Star Hall of Fame honors former students, advisers and friends of the Northern Star who significantly affected the Northern Star, journalism or related fields, or who have otherwise received acclaim based in part on experience gained at the Northern Star.

Created in 2000, the Hall of Fame serves as a means to keep alumni actively involved in support of the Northern Star and to encourage Northern Star students toward excellence in their chosen career paths.

Inductees are chosen by an alumni board. A new class is inducted every two years.

Here is a closer look at this year’s group.


Matt Bute

Matt Bute

Matt Bute, Class of 1999

From his time at NIU to helping launch one of Chicago’s dominant entertainment newspapers in RedEye, to heading up the Chicago Tribune’s advertising massive team; Matt Bute knows how to sell copy space.

His two-month stint at the Chicago Sun-Times would prove to be enough for Northern Star Hall of Famer Rich Schovanec to recognize his talent and set him up with a position at the Chicago Tribune.

Bute currently chairs the Northern Star Publication Board as well, representing the Chicago Tribune.

Kevin Craver

Kevin Craver

Kevin Craver, Class of 1994

Kevin Craver, senior reporter for the Northwest Herald, wasn’t swallowing what McHenry County bureaucrats were selling: that no “cancer cluster” existed in tiny McCullom Lake, or that two manufacturers nearbywere not responsible.

The U.S. Army veteran filed stacks of FOIAs, obtaining thousands of pages with plenty to tell.

Published in December 2007, their six-part “Coincidence or Cluster?” series delivered devastating revelations: Vital knowledge withheld. Misleading maps. Flawed studies.

Bill Hetland

Bill Hetland

Bill Hetland, Class of 1966

Bill Hetland was a well-traveled newspaperman who made stops at his hometown Belvidere Daily Republican, the West Palm Beach (Fla.) Times, the Woodstock (Ill.) Daily Sentinel, the Galesburg (Ill.) Register-Mail, the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald, the Mesabi (Virginia, Minn.) Daily News, the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette, the Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald and the Appleton (Wis.) Valleysun.

After 21 years in the newspaper business, Hetland decided that “instead of writing about treatment programs, I wanted to work for one.”

Hetland is the outreach director at the Northern Illinois Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Jon Lawrence

Jon Lawrence

Jon Lawrence, Class of 1968

When Jon Lawrence started working at the Northern Star, he was so shy that finding sources to talk to or photograph was difficult. The newspaper quickly changed that.

“I developed self-confidence, I was empowered through my cartoons, I am quite proud of my photographic work,” he says.

Lawrence now lives in Australia, where he established a graphic arts career and worked in environment education and environmental management. He works part-time teaching English to migrants at Bankstown College of TAFE.

Tim Sassone

Tim Sassone

Tim Sassone, Class of 1978

As a youngster and gung-ho Chicago Blackhawks fan in Bellwood, Ill., Tim Sassone idolized Chicago Tribune columnist and longtime hockey beat writer Bob Verdi: “I always wanted to be a hockey writer.”

Four decades later, Sassone is not only the senior scribe on the Blackhawks’ beat but the best in the Chicago market.

After Chicago defeated Philadelphia for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 49 winters, Sassone’s cup-clinching game coverage earned a national Associated Press award in 2010.He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and a regular contributor to The Hockey News.

Barry Schrader

Barry Schrader

Barry Schrader, Class of 1963

Barry Schrader has a nose for news. Or maybe it’s his nose for controversy. Either way, Schrader definitely has a nose for good stories.

“I’m just a rabble-rouser from my college days,” he says. “I also tend to be on the side of the downtrodden … or the losing battles. I seem to always find a cause.”

Perhaps his greatest strength as a journalist is his devotion to his community. Since his retirement, he has freelanced as a community columnist for the Daily Chronicle, worked on various local history projects and thrown himself into local mental health issues.

Jim Killam

Jim Killam

Jim Killam, adviser, 1995 to 2012

Jim Killam is still teaching and probably always will. Today the classrooms span the globe, the curriculum is – like much of journalism today – digital, and the assignment is chronicling mission work around the world.

Killam, who left the Star as faculty adviser in May, provides content and storytelling training for ReachGlobal, a website that shares stories of mission work, and he is working to set up an internship program in Costa Rica this summer.

“If I can peek in on people’s lives while they’re there, I feel blessed,” Killam says. “I have hundreds of students who are still part of my life. It’s an honor for me to be in a position like that.”