Meet Marcia Bullard

- the inspiration for the character "Nina Chapman"

Born in Springfield, Illinois, fourth in a family of seven children, Marcia Bullard as a teenager aspired to a career in journalism. She became President, Chief Executive Officer and Editor of USA WEEKEND, a national weekly magazine with 120 employees and a circulation of 22.6 million.

"The thing that I like most about my job," says Ms. Bullard, "is that I get to publish a magazine that millions of people see every weekend. I think it is exciting that my brother in Oregon, my sister in Colorado and my brother in Maryland all can read the stories that we print."

Ms. Bullard knew early that she wanted a career in journalism. "My sophomore English teacher, Mrs. Marilyn Thomas, said I was a good writer and suggested that I take her journalism course," said Ms. Bullard. "So, I took her class, worked on the high school newspaper and I really loved it."

Working throughout her high school years, Ms. Bullard took on a variety of odd jobs such as babysitting, bussing tables at a cafeteria, and stocking shelves and working the cash register at a corner grocery store. During the school year, she worked at her high school library to help pay tuition. She got her start in the newspaper business at age seventeen during her junior year. The Illinois State Journal published a teen supplement called Verve, and used student writers from all over Springfield. Ms. Bullard was asked to write movie reviews, and stories about fashion, school projects and trends.

Ms. Bullard continued to work for the Illinois State Journal (now the State Journal-Register) during the evening while she attended Springfield College for two years. She spent her final two years of college at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she worked at the university newspaper. During the summer before her senior year, she had the opportunity to work for a major metropolitan newspaper, the Miami Herald, in Florida.

After graduating in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor in political science, Ms. Bullard landed her first full-time newspaper job at the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York, where she worked as a reporter. For eight years, she learned about reporting and the newspaper business, covering criminal courts and county government, and editing the Sunday magazine, Upstate.

In 1982, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as an editor on the prototypes for USA TODAY, and helped launch it as the first national newspaper. In 1985, the parent company of USA TODAY, Gannett, acquired USA WEEKEND and Ms. Bullard became the Managing Editor of the weekly magazine.

I feel so strongly about the importance of the First Amendment and
freedom of speech. I want to help children and adults realize how special it is.

Ms. Bullard continued her education and earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University in May 2001. She is a member of the Newspaper Association of America, the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is a former board member of the Associated Press Managing Editors. She has taught college journalism and does regular volunteer work, speaking about First Amendment issues to high school students. She also has tutored District of Columbia elementary school children. In 1997 and 2000 Ms. Bullard served as a judge for the Miss America Pageant.

Ms. Bullard is married to journalist Tom McNamara, and has a grown stepdaughter, Emily, who works in theatre arts and also is a good writer.

I see volunteer work as part of my duty. I’ve had a pretty lucky life, so I try
to do things to help other people who may not have a chance
to be exposed to the same things I was exposed to.