Ureneck, Lou 1950–

views updated

Ureneck, Lou 1950–


Born 1950. Education: University of New Hampshire, B.A., 1972.


Home—Brookline, MA. Office—Boston University, College of Communication, 640 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist, editor, educator, and writer. Boston University, Boston, MA, chair of journalism department; Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME, former editor and vice president; Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, former assistant to the editor and deputy managing editor; also was editor-in-residence at the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.


Nieman fellow and editor-in-residence at Harvard University, 1994-95; Barach fellow in nonfiction writing at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, 1995; Maine Journalist of the Year, 1995; National Outdoor Book Award, 2007; Maine Council of Churches Communicator of the Year.


Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-Fishing, and a River Journey through the Heart of Alaska (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of a study of newspaper economics for the Nieman Foundation titled The Business of News. Contributor to periodicals including the New York Times, Boston Globe Sunday magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Nieman Reports magazine. Work has been collected in a selection of outstanding writing from the second half of the twentieth century in Nieman Reports.


Lou Ureneck, a longtime journalist and newspaper editor, turned to academia and became head of Boston University's department of journalism. He has worked at newspapers in Providence, Rhode Island; Portland, Maine; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a review for the Portland Phoenix Web site, Ted Cohen commented: "Under … Louis Ureneck, the Portland Press Herald made the greatest strides in its history, becoming a respected publication that did it all, covering the news day by day, Monday through Saturday, and later exploring the issues [in-depth] in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Ureneck turned a sleeper into a journalistic powerhouse."

Ureneck's first book is his memoir titled Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-Fishing, and a River Journey through the Heart of Alaska. "I've always been drawn to the personal essay," Ureneck told Jeff Baker in an interview for OregonLive.com. "It's my favorite form of writing. I like to write in first-person. You can be direct. There's nothing between you and the reader."

In his memoir, Ureneck describes a fishing trip that he took through the Alaskan wilderness following a divorce and as he tries to reclaim the trust of his teenage son. "I was forty-nine and Adam was eighteen," the author writes in the book's first chapter. "I was deep into middle age; he was on the verge of becoming a man. I had been divorced for a year by then, though my former wife and I had been apart for three years, in different cities separated by hundreds of miles. A chasm of anger, disappointment, and sadness had opened between us. We communicated through lawyers. During most of that time, Adam and I lived together as father and son and sometimes as warring parties. I was his custodial parent."

The story takes place in the summer of 2000 as father and son travel the Kanektok River in a rented rubber raft, traveling from the mountains of Alaska to the Bering Sea. As the two contend with nature, their emotional battle escalates, taking them toward a major confrontation. As Ureneck recounts the experience, he dips into his own childhood, describing both his father's and stepfather's battles with alcohol. However, his stepfather did teach him about fishing, and Ureneck developed a love for the sport, using fishing to escape the confines of family tensions. Ureneck tells how both his fathers eventually disappeared, and he ruminates on how his divorce goes against a pledge he had made many years earlier. The trip, he believes, will help ease his son's pain, resentment, and anger over the divorce. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "generally proves an intelligent tour guide, offering lovely descriptions of the morning mist shrouding a wilderness river." The Kirkus Reviews contributor described Ureneck's memoir as "an enjoyable, heartfelt narrative."



Ureneck, Lou, Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-Fishing, and a River Journey through the Heart of Alaska (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Alaska, October, 2007, "Journey of Healing," review of Backcast, p. 74.

Boston Globe, September 2, 2007, Lou Ureneck, "An Internet Moneymaker," autobiographical article by the author.

Boston Magazine, September, 2007, Geoffrey Gagnon, review of Backcast, p. 34.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Backcast.

Nieman Reports, summer, 2006, "Lou Ureneck," p. 108.


Backcast Web site,http://www.backcast.org (June 24, 2008), brief biography of author.

Boston University Web site,http://www.bu.edu/ (June 24, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Macmillan Web site,http://us.macmillan.com/ (June 24, 2008), brief profile of author.

OregonLive.com,http://blog.oregonlive.com/books/ (May 29, 2008), Jeff Baker, "Interview: Author Lou Ureneck on Backcast."

Portland Phoenix Web site,http://www.portlandphoenix.com/ (April 16-22, 2004), Ted Cohen, "What's News? How George W. Bush Brought Down a Newspaper," brief profile of author.