Mark Saxenmeyer is the creator and Executive Director of The Reporters Inc. He’s also serving as executive producer of our upcoming documentary about wrongful convictions, “The Innocent Convicts.” You can read more about him on our “Team” page.

To Answer your question…

Here's How,
And Why, I Created The Reporters Inc.

October 2015


“So, what’s The Reporters Inc. all about, anyway?”

I get that question a lot, so I thought it was high time that I put the answer(s) into one neatly wrapped, easily understandable and entertainingly informative column!

I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when the idea of The Reporters Inc. was birthed. I was in the living room of my Chicago apartment in 2004, talking with friends. I’d just finished reporting and producing a multi-part TV news series about the difficulties some heterosexuals have when it comes to accepting and understanding homosexuals. We called it Experiment: Gay and Straight and it was a sequel, of sorts, to a similar project we had created a year earlier that examined race relations, The Experiment in Black and White.

The multi-part black/white Experiment news series was edited into an hour-long documentary, aired on the Chicago FOX affiliate I worked for, and won a national Emmy award (among other honors). The gay/straight Experiment news series had also been well-received, and I just assumed that the bosses would green-light a documentary version, too.

Well, I assumed wrong. I was told there weren’t any open slots on the local schedule, that the network wouldn’t allow any of its shows to be pre-empted for the program, that there wasn’t enough advertiser interest. I was told a lot of things, all of which amounted to a big fat “NO.”

Undeterred, I asked if I could edit the project into a documentary on my own time, on my own dime. That request was approved and we were allowed to show the documentary on a local cable access channel, which we did. We were also allowed to enter it into film festivals, which we also did. Experiment: Gay and Straight was accepted into more than two dozen festivals around the world, from L.A. to D.C., Montreal to Mexico City, Brussels to Cape Town. It won several jury and audience prizes.

Then came the calls from distributors. There (more…)

Jerry Huffman with his parents Paul and Betty in Beloit, Wiscosin in the mid-1980s.

From TV’s “Leave it to Beaver” in the early 1960s: Ward, June and Beaver Cleaver

Me Thinks It Was Called “Life”

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The American Dream

October 2015


I grew up with two dads. Or more accurately, two conflicting images of what a dad should be. First, there was the image of Ward Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver, the generation defining, if fictional television account, of the American Dream. Ward wore a suit every day. My real dad, and I say this with love, was a factory guy.

Ward worked hard. Dad worked hard. Ward golfed on the weekends. Dad, even when he was exhausted, would usually play catch after dinner. He did the best he could, bless his heart, (as did my mom) but paying the bills came first. When I had the chance in 1984 to take a job in Europe, Dad pushed me to go. He was wise enough to know the life experience would mean more down the road than I could imagine then.

When I was 30, I was working as a radio news anchor for an overseas network. From there, I thought, it would be a short jump back to American television as a foreign correspondent. Foreign correspondent in my 30s? That would have been a big time, American Dream.

Yeah, but that didn’t happen. Life did.

When I was 40, the suits at a FOX O&O, (TV lingo for a station that’s owned and operated by the network) where I worked for three years as a segment producer, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “…times are tough, even for Rupert.” In a blink, I was sitting on the curb with my career in three boxes next to me. The world felt particularly cold that November.

In my 50s, I started over as a freelance publicist and I enjoyed the vibe of working with talented, energetic, and younger people. I found myself getting more excited helping a rookie writer score her first column than seeing my own name on the byline. Then I had to deal with, and overcome, my first-ever serious health crisis. The Dream had gotten bumpy, but eventually evolved for the better.

Now, I’m 100-some days from turning 60 and the economic ice under the feet feels thin. I’ve watched some people, (more…)