Robert K. Elder
|Occupation||Publisher, Journalist, author, film columnist|
Robert K. Elder is Chief Digital Officer at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an American journalist, author, and film columnist. He has written more than a dozen books on topics ranging from the death penalty and movies to Ernest Hemingway and Elvis Presley.
Early life and education
Elder has published in The New York Times, Premiere, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Salon.com and The Oregonian, among other publications. In the late 1990s, Elder worked for several publications and changed his byline to "Robert K. Elder" after working with another Rob Elder at the San Jose Mercury News.
He has taught journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, as well as feature writing and entertainment reporting at Columbia College Chicago. A former member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, he has also taught film classes at Facets Film School.
In 2005, Elder edited John Woo: Interviews, the first authoritative English-language chronicle of the life, legacy, and career of film director John Woo. He has also contributed to books on poker, comic books, film design and author Neil Gaiman.
In June 2006, Elder debunked the long-believed Chicago legend that Del Close had donated his skull for use as a stage prop to the Goodman Theatre. While Close had willed his skull to the theater to serve as Yorick in productions of Hamlet, the delivery of the skull never happened, due to medical and legal issues, and it was cremated along with the rest of Close's body.
In June 2009, Elder founded the Web 2.0 company Odd Hours Media LLC, which launched the user-generated sites ItWasOverWhen.com and ItWasLoveWhen.com. Both sites attracted more than one million hits within a few months. In late 2009, Sourcebooks signed the sites to a two-book deal. It Was Over When: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends was available April 2011.
In May 2010, after seven years of research, Elder released the book Last Words of the Executed. The book includes a foreword by Studs Terkel. Described as an oral history of capital punishment in the United States, Last Words of the Executed documents the final statements of death row prisoners. Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, said, "This is a powerful, haunting book." In his foreword, Terkel wrote, "What I will remember most about this book is its poetry in the speech of people at the most traumatic moment of their lives."
In January 2011, Elder released the book The Film That Changed My Life, a compilation of interviews with 30 film directors discussing the films that shaped their careers and, in turn, cinema history. The book includes interviews with Rian Johnson on Annie Hall, Danny Boyle on Apocalypse Now and Kevin Smith on Slacker. Chicago Tribune film critic and former At the Movies co-host Michael Phillips has called the book, "A great and provocative read...it's addictive." Film critic Leonard Maltin said, "You'll have a hard time putting this book down."
Elder joined DNAinfo Chicago in May 2012 as its managing editor and part of the company's first national expansion.
In 2013, he was named the Lake County Editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. He went on to become editor-in-chief Sun-Times Media Local, overseeing 36 of the company's suburban publications.
In June of the same year, Elder released The Best Film You've Never Seen. The book received praise by critics such as Adam Kempenaar, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Roger Ebert who called The Best Film You've Never Seen, "well judged and written! Some of the best films ever made, as Elder proves, are lamentably all but unknown.“
In 2014, he was named vice president of Digital Content, founding a guest editor program featuring people such as Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan, author Scott Turow ("Presumed Innocent") and astronaut Jim Lovell. Elder also started a podcast network at the Sun-Times, hosting "The Big Questions," one of four initial shows.
In 2015, he became the director of Digital Product Development and Strategy for Crain Communications.
In July 2016, Elder published his seventh book, Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park, a hardcover coffee table book that told the author's life story through rare images, objects, and letters. Included in the book: A little-seen poem that revealed Hemingway's first love and a note that suggested an affair with his sister-in-law. The book received praise from authors such as Garrison Keillor, Jonathan Eig and Scott Turow, who called Hidden Hemingway, "an invaluable book for anyone interested in Hemingway or the development of a major creative mind.”
In July 2017, he became a business mentor at 1871 Chicago.
In January 2018, he joined the board of advisors of the Garage Fellows program at Northwestern University's Startup Incubator, the Garage.
In April 2018, Elder became president and publisher of Blockchain News.
Soon after, Elder published his eighth book, The Mixtape of My Life: A Do-It-Yourself Music Memoir, a guided journal that offers prompts and questions to unlock memories through the soundtrack of your life. The book received praise from authors such as Mark Caro and Jason Bitner, who called The Mixtape of My Life, "an astonishing tool for unlocking your long-forgotten histories."
In July 2018, Elder was featured on Billings Gazette. It recollects the moment that, "spurred a lifelong love of concert photography," and provoked Elder's journalism career. His work as an author is addressed with an emphasis on his latest book The Mixtape of My Life.
- A Friendly Game of Poker, Chicago Review Press, 2003 (contributor)
- John Woo, Interviews, University Press of Mississippi, 2005 (editor)
- The Neil Gaiman Reader, Wildside Press, 2007 (contributor)
- Last Words of the Executed, University of Chicago Press, 2010 (editor)
- The Film That Changed My Life, Chicago Review Press, 2011 (editor)
- It Was Over When..., Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011 (editor)
- The Best Film You've Never Seen, Chicago Review Press, 2013 (author)
- Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park, Kent State University Press, 2016
- The Mixtape of My Life: A Do-It-Yourself Music Memoir, Running Press, 2018 (author)
- Miner, Michael. "Gone from the Tribune, a running count". Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- "It Was Over When: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends". Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- "It Was Love When: Tales from the Beginning of Love". Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- "Lake County News - Lake County News-Sun". Retrieved August 3, 2016.