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Marquette University Alumni Association

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients

By-line Award

Michael C. HiestandMichael C. Hiestand, Jour '87
Ferndale, Wash.

When it comes to student journalists, Mike will use any means necessary to protect their work. Case in point: being named a 2015 “Holy Fool,” what author Joseph Campbell calls people who are willing to say whatever needs to be said, no matter what, to make a difference.

And make a difference he has.

Mike began his career as a staff attorney for the Student Press Law Center and eventually founded Zenger Consulting to work as the center’s only consulting attorney. He has helped nearly 15,000 high school and college journalists throughout his career and continues to work on special projects with the SPLC.

During the 2013–14 school year, Mike took his commitment to student journalists’ rights on the road by organizing the Tinker Tour. Driving a hot pink RV disguised as a bus, he brought Supreme Court plaintiff Mary Beth Tinker (of the landmark 1969 First Amendment case) to schools across the country and two foreign countries to discuss the importance of free speech and free press.

“My work with student media has truly been my dream job,” he says. “I believe — I know — good journalists can and do change the world for the better. That’s why I went to journalism school. The First Amendment, among other things, protects journalists. That’s why I went to law school.”

Mike is the co-author of the fourth edition of Law of the Student Press and was the primary author of Covering Campus Crime: A Handbook for Journalists, now in its fifth edition. He also wrote the long-running column, “It’s The Law,” covering student media law, published by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Associated Collegiate Press. In 2009, the National Scholastic Press Association awarded Mike its Pioneer Award, its highest honor for journalism educators. In 2015, he won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award.

Long term, he hopes to get back in the classroom to teach First Amendment courses full time.

Hometown: None (Career Air Force brat)
Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Favorite quote: “Beware the ideas you hold, because the ideas you hold, hold you." I actually wrote this down during a history class at Marquette and have lived by it ever since.
Dream dinner guest: Elisabeth Shue
Marquette faculty member who had an impact: There were a number of professors whose classes truly lit me up and left me wanting to know more. Sadly, I no longer recall all of their names. One of the more memorable classes I took was George Reedy’s seminar where the former presidential press secretary held court and told his behind-the-scenes stories with that sonorous, unforgettable voice he was gifted.
Favorite Marquette memory: Streakers running through the WMUR studios on the top floor of Johnston Hall during The Alaskan Pipeline, a live, late-night radio show that I co-hosted with Greg Cone. We opened the show with the Sound of Music and closed with Donny and Marie's May Tomorrow Be the Perfect Day. In between those two songs, what you heard — and what we did — was anybody's guess from week to week. Cone was sort of a shock-jock pioneer. Brilliant.
Career he aspired to in grade school: A veterinarian because I loved animals.
Marquette legacy: Most of my wife’s side of the family attended Marquette (both before and after my time there). I was the first and so far only person on my side to attend Marquette. My daughter, however, is considering Marquette’s physical therapy school program, which would make her part of the first grandmother-daughter-granddaughter trio to graduate from that program.
Most influential person: Other than my parents (boring, but true answer) and wife —whom I met in Mashuda Hall and married (not so boring, but not so easily put into words answer) — it was Mr. Wayne Mergler, my high school English teacher, who I still speak with, who showed up perfectly right when I needed him most. He helped me flip my lightbulb on.”