December 2008

December Chicago Headline Club Newsletter


Dear Headline Club Members –


It’s that time of year when holiday madness besieges all of us. Trying to juggle work responsibilities with family and social outings is always tricky. Hopefully you’ve made time to join us at one of our many events including the Race & Presidency town hall forum that included WBBM 780’s political editor Craig Dellimore, Time magazine’s Steven Gray, Northwestern Medill Associate Professor, Ava Greenwell, former Chicago Tribune Public Editor, Loyola School of Communication Dean Donald Heider and Loyola Distinguished Journalist in Residence, Don Wycliff.


If you haven’t been able come to any of the events in person (or even if you have) please join us on the web. The Headline Club is now on Facebook. More than 50 of you have already found us in just a few short days. Just search for the Headline Club group and join. Connect with other members, find out about upcoming events, scholarships and grants and post your favorite Headline Club photos from recent events or years past.


It’s also that time of year to start applying for Lisagor Awards. You can download the Lisagor entry form here or from our Web site. We’ve also updated the Lisagor Awards (Can you believe this year will be the 32nd?) to reflect a growth in broadcast and online markets. We’ve also added graphics and design awards in the print category. A hard-working Lisagor committee has spent months trying to make this as fair and balanced, competitive and comprehensive as possible. As they say, you can’t please all the people all of the time, but we have tried our best to make as many improvements as possible.


You can download the Lisagor entry form here or from our Web site. Stories must have been published/produced during the 2008 (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31st) calendar year. It’s $30 for members and $50 for non-members. (As they say, membership has its privileges.) Entries must be postmarked by Thursday, Jan. 22. You can also download the entry form off the Headline Club’s Web site or wait for the snail mail version in the next few days. (In the city that works, it’s about entering early and often.) The dinner date: Friday, April 24 at the Union League Club. Also remember, this year’s Lisagor Awards will include our Lifetime Achievement ceremony.


Happy Holidays!


Your president,


Dawn Reiss





Just in case you forgot, remember tonight’s (Thurs., Dec. 4) holiday party 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Billy Goat with Steve Edwards, Chicago Public Radios’ Acting Program Director and Improv comedian of Eight-Fourty-Eight’s Studio 312. Members and non-members are welcome to come. As a member, you can enter a free raffle for a swag bag worth $100.




Okay, we figured you’d need a month to recover from the holiday, plus the first Thursday happens to land on January 1st. Burger Night will be back at its scheduled time – the First Thursday of each month starting in February. Mark your calendars now, since the next one will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5 with WGN’s Wes Bleed for a night of broadcasting war stories.

Wes Bleed





In case you forgot this is why we host the Lisagor Awards: Peter Lisagor, the Chicago Daily News’ Washington bureau chief from 1959 to 1976, was one of the nation’s most respected and well-known journalists. Known for his precision and wit, Lisagor gained national recognition for his syndicated column and appearances on such public affairs broadcasts as “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation” and “Washington Week in Review” until his death in 1976. A Nieman Fellow, Lisagor was a

recipient of the Newspaper Guild’s Page One award, the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting award, the William Allen White Award and Edward Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting.


The Chicago Headline Club, the largest Society of Professional Journalists chapter in the country, established the Peter Lisagor Awards in 1977 to inspire Chicago area journalists to follow Lisagor’s outstanding example and to recognize truly superior contributions to journalism. Founded as Sigma Delta Chi in 1909, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is widely acknowledged as the voice of journalism and a leader in recognizing members of the profession for outstanding achievement.




Here are some of the changes for this year: The online category (which has more than tripled in size) now includes: best interactive project, news Web site, commentary, neighborhood/community news, feature story, business or consumer reporting, original political reporting and investigative/public service reporting.


Broadcast categories include: best breaking news story, in-depth news story or series, investigative reporting, newscast, public affairs reporting, business or consumer reporting, health or science reporting, sports story and, for television and best videographer.


The specialty/trade category includes awards for best deadline report, in-depth report or series, commentary, business or consumer reporting and feature story.


Shameless Gossip
By Bonnie McGrath

Mark your calendars–Chicago Tribune managing editor Jane Hirt (btw, Shameless expresses belated congrats on the fantastic promotion) will be the keynoter at the AWJ annual meeting in January. Jane was recently featured on NBC’ 24/7 program putting together an issue of Red Eye.

Congrats to Headline Club member extraordinaire, attorney Priscilla MacDougall, who recently won an award from the Veteran Feminists of America.

Writers Laura Putre, Deb Cohen and Dawn Reiss–our CHC president who wrote American Way’s Nov. 15 cover story about Maya Angelou –are all participating in an informal writers’ group, and thriving because of it, Shameless hears.

Sincere condolences to the family of Columbia College’s Howard Schlossberg, whose dear mother Henrietta passed away; gifts in her honor can be made to the American Cancer Society and the Arthritis Foundation.

Lynda and Jim O’Connor are now concentrating on book and author promotion–in fact, of the 15 authors they have represented in the last two years, some have gone on to win national and regional awards.

Karri Christiansen has started a new blog: It’s a forum for news and editorial commentary.

Columbia College’s Barb Iverson–recovered from recent knee surgery–was on an IWPA panel dealing with the “magic and mystery” of blogging recently, as well as headlining an AWJ “Work Smart” workshop at Columbia College and a “Blogging for Change” workshop at Catalyst Ranch. Also, Barb and colleague Suzanne McBride and Beachwood Reporter’s Steve Rhodes did AEJMC panels on civic and citizen journalism during the conference held in Chicago. Columbia’s Nancy Day and Norma Green–recently returned from sabbatical–were also featured at the conference; Barb helped organize it.

Writer/blogger Maria Traska is deejaying a Monday Night Swing Dance at Fizz; swing dancing is a new hobby for her!

Sandra Guy, business reporter/columnist for the Sun-Times, has taken on a new role in her church–Christ the King Lutheran. She is one of the lay people leading services.

Spend mornings with journo-comedian-blogger Ray Hanania–1530 AM, WJJG–including watching him on internet video streaming; his newsletter and schedule can be found at He is also hosting a show on Comcast Cable. He performs in his comedy routine regularly, too. And is diligent informing the broadcast–and broader–community on instances of ethnic bias.

Playwright and radio personality Vicki Quade (she’s been reviewing movies lately on WLS-AM) had another birthday celebration not long ago–and will be hosting her annual gingerbread-making soiree, too.

Once again, Abdon Pallasch was a big hit speaking to the journalism grad students (Shameless’ class) about his legal and political beat coverage at the Sun-Times.

Big move for writer Deb Cohen from her West Loop digs to a gorgeous new house on the North Side.

Channel 7’s Ben Bradley added son Ethan to his family recently.

Molly McDonough accepted a Webby Award on behalf of the ABA recently. You can see her delivering her acceptance speech on YouTube.

Thom Clark, CMW, and, Rick Kogan, Tribune, did a great job accompanying participants on the Community Media Workshop historic writers’ pub crawl recently. Rick gave out free copies of his book about Billy Goat’s. He also co-hosted a discussion of the film “Prisoner of her Past” recently at the Pritzker Military Library. And he interviewed Victor Skrebneski at the second annual benefit for the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation, and hosted a literary conversation at Chicago’s new “Publisher’s Gallery” at the Cultural Center. Rick also interviewed Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey and novelist Theresa Schwegel at Maxim’s, as part of the city’s “Conversations With Extraordinary People” series.

Northwestern U’s Cynthia Linton has resigned her duties at the Sierra Club in order spend more time caring for her ailing husband. Hope he is doing better!

Water Reclamation Commissioner Debra Shore spoke at a recent Chicago Bar Association talk about environmental strategies and local government.

Columbia’s Suzanne McBride has been discussing an array of topics–including the need for consistent neighborhood coverage–during recent media appearances.

Chicago Journal’s Micah Maidenberg follows in the footsteps of Chicago Public Radio’s Natalie Moore; both were featured as “People to Pitch” profiles in the CMW online newsletter. Natalie, working hard on the AWJ board these days, also recently read from her book, “Deconstructing Tyrone” at the Book Cellar.

Photographer (and AWJ president) Karen Kring recently shot fellow journalist Olivia Cobiskey’s wedding in Dixon–then headed for R and R in Maine with fellow photog Sandy Slater.


Any news? Please let Shamless know at



In the Headline Club Spotlight

Sun-Times Political Reporter Knows Obama’s Speech by Heart

By Sarah Marbes


Abdon Pallasch spent two weeks in Iowa on Barrack Obama’s campaign bus, watching him give the same speech several times a day.

“I think I can recite it,” he said, adding, “It’s a good speech. Obviously, people like it.”

Since transitioning from the Sun Times’ legal affairs reporter to the political reporter within the last year, Pallasch covered everything from the primary battles for nomination to how Obama’s win may affect Chicago’s bid for the Olympics. Pallasch, who is on Headline Club’s Board of Directors, has been writing for the Chicago Sun Times for more than nine years. Covering the 2008 election took him to the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention, 15 states and countless speeches.

During the conventions Pallasch was writing multiple stories each day in order to make the latest news available to readers online. He described the DNC as “manna from heaven every day” because of the interesting stories that came out of it. He cited one incident when Jesse Jackson Jr. apologized to Congressman Bobby Rush and Sen. Debbie Halvorson for past feuding and made amends by publicly hugging them. A few other Democrats followed suit by embracing their own political rivals.

However, covering the election wasn’t all friendship and hugs. Pallasch had to overcome his share of obstacles to follow the candidates. Obama’s camp banned Pallasch from the campaign bus for a couple months for writing about Rezko in a way they didn’t like. In what Pallasch called one of the “most worthwhile” stories he’d written during the campaign, he compared Obama’s Rezko scandal to McCain’s Keating scandal.

While conservatives may claim the Sun Times favored Obama by writing more stories about him, Pallasch said, “We consider ourselves the watchdog paper on the hometown guy.”

Pallasch also wrote about Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers.

“Not all coverage is good coverage,” he said, adding that the Sun-Times is “an equal opportunity digger.”

What’s in store for Pallasch’s future? For now, he’ll stick with political reporting, and would consider being a columnist some day. He loves his work and would like to retire from journalism “at a ripe old age.”