About

The Mid-America Press Institute provides affordable, relevant training for mid-career journalists through frequent seminars, networking opportunities and other perks. 

The Mid-America Press Institute builds its membership from newspapers across the Midwest and is based in Champaign, Illinois, home of the University of Illinois.

The Institute’s initial home was at Southern Illinois University from 1968 until 1992, when it moved to the journalism school at the University of Kansas.

In 1994, the Institute relocated to Eastern Illinois University under the leadership of John David Reed, who retired from the faculty in 2004 but remains emeritus and continued to serve the Institute until 2009.

John Ryan became executive director in 2009 and continued in the position, even after his own retirement from the university’s faculty in 2015. He now remains an emeritus professor.

The Institute and the Mid-America Press Institute Foundation relocated to Champaign, Ill. in August 2017 where it is now led by co-directors, Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois, and Pam Dempsey, the executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, an online, nonprofit newsroom covering agribusiness and related issues.

Before joining the university in 2007, Houston was executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors for more than decade and a database editor and investigative reporter at newspapers for 17 years. He is author of four editions of “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide” and co-author of two editions of “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.” He also has been involved in the growth of non-profit newsrooms across the U.S.

He has organized and spoken at more than 400 workshops and conferences over the past 20 years.

Dempsey, a former reporter for The News-Gazette, is a veteran journalist covering agribusiness and has reported on local and regional government, health, housing and Native American government through investigative and enterprise stories. Dempsey has helped develop many community engagement projects and coordinate the start-up of two online newsrooms. She also helped organize and run national and regional workshops for reporters and worked closely with Illinois Public Media.