How to win a Pulitzer, SPJ under the tree, and FOIA follow-up

Here’s what’s up this month

Nov. 30, 2011

Hope your Thanksgiving was great that you had many things to be thankful for as you celebrated with family and/or friends. And hope the rest of your holidays are even better. But for now, let’s get back to business.

How did they do it? – Pulitzer Prize winners Frank Main, Mark Konkol and John J. Kim of the Chicago Sun-Times will talk about their immersive documentation of violence in Chicago neighborhoods, probing the lives of victims, criminals and detectives as a widespread code of silence impedes solutions. 7 p.m.  Thurs. Dec. 8 at Columbia College, 33 E. Congress, Room 219 (Journalism Auditorium). After they discuss what it takes to create a Pulitzer-winning series and photos, they will take questions. Please join them and us.

Access – In our continuing effort to open the doors to city, county and state governments, we plan two initiatives. We will create an online guide to FOI officials in the five-county area and with state offices, partnering with groups such as the Better Government Association. In addition, we will create a blog website for FOI news, including state law changes, court rulings, etc. Thanks to McCormick Foundation funding, we have a budget of $13,000 and are able to pay a journalist needing work for each of these jobs. To apply, contact CHC President Steve Franklin.

More on access – We will co-sponsor with the Loyola University student chapter an appearance by Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy in January. And in February, we plan a FOI access panel follow-up. Details on both to follow.

Online & digital – We will hold a workshop in late January in downtown Chicago with the Knight News Innovation Lab looking at online and digital tools for journalists as they cover the coming federal elections. Watch for more information.

Public-Press – More than 100 people attended and many asked a lot of good questions at our Nov. 8 event at The Little Black Pearl. We connected community members with the African-American news media so they gained a better understanding of news coverage. WBEZ’s Natalie Moore moderated. Speakers were Glenn Reedus, editor of the Chicago Crusader, Aminah Hanan, executive director of Blogging While Brown, a national network of bloggers, Richard Muhammad, editor of the Final Call, and Matt McGill. This was the second of our community dialogues; our first was in Austin.

Need a holiday gift? – For that journalist who is hard to shop for, how about a membership in SPJ and CHC? Go to to shop on-line (don’t forget the local dues down toward the bottom of the form). It’s a bargain at $92. In fact, on Jan. 1, 2012, SPJ dues go up $3. So save a little now. Also good for birthdays and other special occasions! For more information, contact CHC Membership VP Rumanna Hussain. If you want a gift in another price range, donate any amount to the CHC Foundation. Send your check to CHCF Treasurer Howard S. Dubin, Manufacturers News, 1633 Central St., Evanston, IL 60201.

Welcoming new board members – Lolly Bowean of the Chicago Tribune and Fabiola Pomareda Garcia of La Raza newspaper have joined the CHC board. They attended their first board meeting Nov. 18, and showed wonderful enthusiasm and readiness to dig in on all the work that we want to do. They will be great additions to the board.

Lisagor Awards – We’re going online this year, which we think will make it easier for you to enter. Deadline for entries is Feb. 8, 2012. Our awards banquet will be Fri. May 4 at the Union League Club. New in 2012 is the Anne Keegan Award for reporting on ordinary people and touching the heart. It will be free, for print only. But for a nominal sum you can enter the other Lisagor categories in print, broadcast and online. Watch for more information soon!

Ethics AdviceLine – Phone 866-DILEMMA. If you have a problem about how to handle a story or a boss, call our professional advisers. Our service is free to all pro journalists. We have answered more than 900 calls in a decade. For more information, see our website.

JobFile – Need a job? Looking for a new one? See our website. Ever-faithful Bob Roberts compiles HUNDREDS of job leads! Check all four categories, all the way to the end. And, take a look around to see the many other things we do.

Membership – We need you. You need us. What other group focuses on access, ethics, pro development? Don’t lose your renewal notice in your stacks of holiday snailmail. And encourage your colleagues to join via the SPJ website or contact Membership Rumanna Hussain.

Stay in touch – You can find CHC on Facebook and Twitter:

— Susan S. Stevens
President ex-officio