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Faculty Spotlight: Mick Dumke

By Jon Graef (MA '12)
September 6, 2011

Drugs, guns, schools, and criminal justice—they’re all in a day’s work for Columbia College adjunct journalism faculty member and reporter Mick Dumke. Even then, there are still not enough hours in the day to cover everything of interest to Chicagoans.

“In a newsroom, everything’s happening, and you have to make decisions on what to cover,” Dumke says. “There’s never enough people to do things you want to do. Sometimes it’s a frenzied existence.”

As a reporter, Dumke has worked for the Chicago Defender, the Chicago News Cooperative, and the Chicago Reader, his longest-running reporting job.

For the Reader, Dumke has reported on the racial disparity in marijuana possession charges against Chicagoans, and, with Reader colleague Ben Joravsky, created a timeline about how Rahm Emanuel became the mayor of Chicago.

Along with Joravsky, Dumke also reported on Chicago’s infamous parking meter deal, wherein the city privatized the parking meters in a hurried, backdoor process that resulted in a sudden increase in meter prices that confused Chicago citizens and left the city at a financial loss.

Dumke’s most recent project involves filing a lawsuit in April against the city of Chicago over denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The city has denied Dumke’s request, saying that it is “burdensome” because it does not have a way to keep track of the mayor’s schedule.

Emphasizing that the lawsuit is against the Mayor’s office, and not personally against either former Mayor Richard M. Daley or current Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Dumke says his request for information about the mayor’s schedule is about increased transparency in government.

The lawsuit, which has been covered by The Huffington Post, Gapers Block, and the Windy Citizen, amongst other media outlets, is in interrogatories—where both sides debate about what evidence will be submitted. This means that the lawsuit is not moving forward yet.

But Dumke stays busy with his reporting and Columbia teaching schedule. He says he’s always eager to be around the students and faculty.

“I love the range of people,” he says. “It’s an interesting, thoughtful, and creative dynamic at Columbia,” Dumke says. “It’s really fun to teach here.”