November Chicago Headline Club Newsletter
Dear Chicago Headline Club Members –
It’s nearly turkey time and the board has been hard at work.
Here’s what we’ve been cooking up:
Political reporters Abdon Pallasch (Chicago Sun-Times) and Kristen McQueary (SouthtownStar) and some of their cross-town cohorts showed up for a lengthy post-election discussion at the Billy Goat. (We had so many people that members and non-members mingled for hours after our burger night officially ended.) Like this month, we are going to have burger night again on Thursday night (Dec. 4) since many of you said you like the change in day.
Beth Konrad, Headline Club vice president/programs and president-elect, helped organized a stand-out panel of magazine editors and writers including Lynn Norment, managing editor of Ebony; Shane Tritsch, Chicago magazine’s managing editor; and New York freelancer and former Good Housekeeping and Smart Money magazine editor Walecia Konrad.
In case you missed it, the club protested the arrest of journalist Mike Anzaldi and confiscation of his equipment at the scene of a police shooting Oct. 21. Anzaldi, a freelance photographer for Spot News Chicago, a 12-year veteran of Chicago news coverage, and holder of police credentials, was charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer. His two digital cameras were confiscated and Anzaldi said his still photos – approximately 500 photographs – were deleted after covering a crime scene that involved an attempted armed robber who was shot and killed by an off-duty Chicago Police officer. Anzaldi’s video camera and videotape were also confiscated and still have not been returned until a judge ordered the police to surrender them Nov. 12. The Headline Club and SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund have agreed to each give $1,000 towards his legal fees to assist his case. Headline Club Vice President and Freedom of Information Chair Susan Stevens has requested a meeting with journalists and the Chicago Police Department to discuss accessibility.
The club is also looking for interns who can help with our Web site and/or who have a background in graphic design. If you know of someone who might be interested, please let us know.
Mark you calendar for the final program in the 2008 Brownlee Series: “What’s Race Got to Do with It? Media Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election,” a special town hall meeting with working journalists, journalism organizations and students.
6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3
Loyola University’s Rubloff Auditorium
25 E. Pearson St.
Admission free for Headline Club members and students
$10 admission for non-members; admission fee will be waived for journalists who join Headline Club at the event
Refreshments and a reception will be held following the presentation
All will be invited to interact with a panel of political experts on elections and race.
Craig Dellimore, WBBM 780 Political Editor
Steven Gray, Time magazine Reporter
Ava Greenwell, Northwestern Medill Associate Professor and Media Scholar
Donald Heider, Dean, Loyola School of Communication and Scholar on Race and the Media
Holiday party Dec. 4
Join the Chicago Headline Club to kick off the holiday season with Chicago Public Radio’s Steve Edwards.
5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4
Billy Goat Tavern
430 N. Lower Michigan Ave.
First beer is on us, as always. On this night, members get to enter a free raffle for a swag bag worth $100. Come chat with Steve about some of his more memorable interviews as host of Eight-Forty-Eight
Les Brownlee’s love affair
By Susan S. Stevens
Headline Club Vice President, Freedom of Information
When Les Brownlee married Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, he made a vow. In his autobiography, “Les Brownlee: The Autobiography of a Pioneering African American Journalist,” he wrote, “I promised to never call her Mrs. Brownlee. She promised to stay out of the kitchen.”
Maintaining her name was no small matter to the daughter of Curtis MacDougall, a legendary Northwestern University journalism professor. She is well known in the legal community for efforts on behalf of women’s rights. She fought to the U.S. Supreme Court the right for women to continue using their given names after marriage.
She shared those and other stories during the kickoff for the Chicago Headline Club’s 2008 Les Brownlee Journalism Series, when she spoke Oct. 16 at Columbia College, where she teaches part-time. She is a full-time attorney for the Wisconsin Education Association, where she fights for teachers’ rights.
MacDougall is a former journalist and long-time member of the Chicago Headline Club (her late husband was president 1989-90). Her first career was as a journalist for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. After she saw the limited possibility for advancement in journalism because of her gender, she went to law school.
During her speech, MacDougall shared stories about Brownlee’s courageous journey through a childhood marred by racism and poverty to achieve a lifetime of accomplishments. She also talked about his softer side, which included the ability to bake fantastic muffins, earning him the nickname, the Muffin Man.
Brownlee died of lung cancer in 2005, and MacDougall remains true to her vow. She stays out of the kitchen.
$1 billion presidential campaign focus at First Amendment Forum
By Susan S. Stevens
Headline Club Vice President, Freedom of Information
The leader of the charge to open the doors in the U.S. Senate to sunshine, former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson, said the effort did not have quite the effect he intended.
Lobbyists “streamed in,” Stevenson told the audience attending the seventh annual First Amendment Forum Oct. 23 at the McCormick Freedom Museum.
As lobbyists gained strength, voters began losing because political campaigns became dominated by dollars, Stevenson said. The 2008 presidential campaign cost more than $1 billion, he said.
Believing “knowledge will forever govern ignorance,” Stevenson asks, “How can Americans be empowered with knowledge in this dynamic, shrinking world?”
Declaring both Barack Obama and John McCain “honorable men,” Stevenson said they don’t need to be advised to avoid corrupting the media.
“The U.S Constitution. Someone needs to read it and use it,” said Joseph Morris, a forum panelist and a national director of the American Conservative Union who has been chairman and president of the United Republican Fund of Illinois.
“Power hates freedom,” Morris told the audience that included members of the Chicago Headline Club, Chicago Journalists Association, International Press Club of Chicago and Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy.
There are legitimate zones of government and individual privacy, Morris said, adding, “I don’t think I need to make a case with this group how abhorrent censorship is.”
Bernard M. Judge, chairman of the board of the Illinois First Amendment Center and publisher emeritus of the Law Bulletin Publishing Co., said these are uncertain times.
“I have real concerns about the press … and even greater concerns about the people,” Judge said.
Michael Scodro, Illinois solicitor general, said concerns about Freedom of Information and the Open Meetings Act expressed by his superior, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, offer “a starting point.”
Get rid of the Patriot Act and its secrecy, declared Kenan Heise, retired Chicago Tribune reporter and author. The first Bush Administration passed numerous restrictions that the media seem to have accepted in the last four or five years, he said.
“It’s a battle not just for liberals,” Heise said. “It’s a battle for conservatives.”
From left: Kenan Heise, retired Chicago Tribune reporter and author; Joseph Morris, a national director of the American Conservative Union and former chairman and president of the United Republican Fund of Illinois; former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson, (D-Ill.); Bernard M. Judge, chairman of the board of the Illinois First Amendment Center and publisher emeritus of the Law Bulletin Publishing Co.; and Michael Scodro, Illinois solicitor general. (Photo by John R. McClelland)
In the Headline Club Spotlight
‘Southern girl’ feels at home here
By Jon Seidel
Chicago Headline Club Board member
Tera Williams fell in love with Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field.
A friend invited her family to watch the White Sox play a World Series game there in 2005. She sat in the stands, took in the view and absorbed the atmosphere.
She was raised a “southern girl,” and she was still working as a reporter in Greensboro, N.C. But Chicago overwhelmed her that day. She turned to her father and gave him the news: “I’m moving here.”
“After coming here for the World Series,” Williams said, “I was infected with Chicago.”
Three years later, through determination and sacrifice, Williams is a general assignment news reporter for WFLD-TV Fox Chicago.
“I’ve always had this dream of being a reporter in a top ten market,” Williams, 29, said. “My goal was to do it before I turned 30.”
Williams is a graduate of the University of Florida, and she started her career on the assignment desk of a station in Gainesville. She immediately volunteered to fill in if they ever needed a reporter.
“A couple weeks later they had this car accident on the highway,” Williams said.
Her coverage of the story impressed her bosses enough to land a part-time reporting job the next day. That job turned full-time two weeks later, and, a few months after that, Williams became a weekend anchor.
She also started her own cooking show.
“I really believe in local farming and local produce,” Williams said. “I started this show called ‘North Central Florida Flavor with Tera Williams’.”
The show highlighted local farmers and restaurants. Williams published recipes online and caused enough Web traffic to sometimes overwhelm the site.
“That’s something that I want to bring to Chicago,” Williams said. “You might see me doing a cooking segment in the near future.”
From Gainesville, Williams moved to a Fox affiliate in Greensboro. Having spent some time as an anchor, she discovered in Greensboro how much she enjoys being a reporter in the field.
“I love to meet new people,” Williams said. “I love telling people’s stories. I love to be challenged.”
Williams separates her reporting from others by overcoming those challenges. No matter the story, no matter how difficult, Williams said she will find a way to outdo her competitors.
“Most of the time I will always come back with a story,” Williams said.
That determination to succeed can also mean making painful sacrifices, though. Williams passed on friends’ weddings and several holidays with her family to further her career.
“There are major life events that I had to give up to be where I am today,” Williams said. “But it was completely worth it.”
Networking is a key part of success, Williams said. And by networking, she means more than trading business cards. It means taking someone out to lunch.
And part of being a southern lady, she said, is remembering to always send someone a thank-you note.
“Having somebody get a nice thank-you note from you,” Williams said. “That can open doors that you will never imagine.”
A year after her trip to U.S. Cellular, a job opened up at WFLD. She applied, but she was also eyeing a possible return to Florida.
The day she interviewed with the Florida station, WFLD called. All her scoops, all the missed holidays and all the handwritten thank-you notes paid off.
“That was one of the best days of my life,” Williams said.
Once she arrived in Chicago, Williams began researching the city’s professional network. She joined the Chicago Headline Club in February. She’s preparing to renew her contract with WFLD, and she plans to do more with local groups and organizations in the future.
Now that she knows she’ll be here for a while, she said she wants to make Chicago her home.
“I absolutely live in the best city in the world,” Williams said.
Journalism community loses two real pros
The Chicago Headline Club joins our colleagues in mourning the Oct. 31 death of the legendary Studs Terkel and the Oct. 30 death of Charles “Nic” Nicodemus, a Chicago newspaper investigative reporter for almost 50 years. Nicodemus was honored with a Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.