Lifetime Achievement Award: Past Winners

2020: Cheryl Corley and Greg Kot

For Chicagoans, no journalist has done more than Cheryl Corley to capture the wrenching social justice issues that erupted into a global firestorm and catalyst for change last year.

As an NPR national correspondent based in the city for more than two decades, she made herself an expert on issues and reform efforts affecting women, girls and juveniles.

She is one of two recipients of the Chicago Headline Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

Corley covered some of the country’s most important news stories: the political turmoil in Virginia over the governor’s office and a blackface photo, the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, mass shootings in Orlando, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; and other cities. She also vividly captured for listeners the election of Chicago’s first Black female and lesbian Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

More on Corley and why she was chosen for this award

Greg Kot is synonymous with Chicago music.

His voice, his insights and his critical ear are among the reasons that this author, music critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host is one of two recipients of the Chicago Headline Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

Kot is the head of editorial at the multimedia music platform Coda Collection ( He is also the cohost of the nationally syndicated public radio show and podcast “Sound Opinions,” and previously the music critic at the Chicago Tribune for 30 years.

More on Kot and why he was chosen for this award

2019: Jim DeRogatis and Clarence Waldron

DeRogatis spent 15 years as the pop music critic at The Chicago Sun-Times, and he continues to write music journalism and criticism for The New Yorker and other outlets. He is an associate professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College.

Together with Greg Kot, the former rock critic at The Chicago Tribune, he co-hosts Sound Opinions, heard weekly on 125 public radio stations nationwide.

“Great reporters are as rare as they are essential, and are even rarer on the music beat,” Kot said of his friend. “Jim DeRogatis is one of the best and sets the bar for the rest of us with his persistence and skill.”

More on DeRogatis and why he was chosen for this award

Often called “the dean of arts and entertainment journalists,” Clarence Waldron has enjoyed a distinguished career in journalism for more than 35 years, including a 29-year tenure as senior writer and senior editor of Jet Magazine.

Waldron has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism since 1998. His courses include “Reporting & Writing,” “Magazine Writing” and “Covering Popular Music,” a music journalism course that he created for graduate students.

“This is a long overdue and deserved award,” said Grammy-winner Dionne Warwick. “Clarence has been absolutely phenomenal…I am certain that he will continue writing and bringing the greatness to the people who deserve to hear it and know about it.”

More on Waldron and why he was chosen for this award

2018: Sheila Solomon and Nancy Stone

A true pioneer in her field, Solomon has made it her mission to help advance the careers of journalists of color and bring more diversity to the journalism industry at large. As a senior consultant to the Democracy Fund, a position she has held since September 2016, she has examined Chicago’s journalism ecosystem in an effort to foster a more collaborative and sustainable media environment. Solomon has had a lengthy career as a reporter and editor for a variety of news outlets. From 2009 to 2012, she was cross media editor at the Chicago Tribune, serving as liaison among the properties in the Chicago Tribune Media Group. She previously spent seven years as the Tribune’s senior editor for recruitment, overseeing the newsroom’s internship and training programs and serving as a resource and liaison for the newsroom and Chicago Tribune Media Group partners.

For Stone, a picture is worth 1,000 words and the images from this photojournalist have delighted and inspired thousands of people. She began her journalism career in 1978 as a photographer at the Santa Fe Reporter in New Mexico. in 1990, after stints at the Barrington Press, the Daily Herald and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Stone arrived at the Chicago Tribune. For the next 28 years, she roamed the city and the world for the Tribune. Some of the overseas locations she worked in were Iran and Africa and a couple of her notable achievements were photographing former President Barack Obama shortly after taking office and also chronicling the career of Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. Equally important, Stone has worked in every neighborhood of Chicago, capturing the city in all its moods, from the morning light on the lakefront to the faces of mourners at crime scenes.


The 2017 Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to three legendary Chicago reporters for their undercover work to break the famous Mirage Tavern investigative series in 1978.

Pam Zekman and Zay Smith, who were reporters for the Sun-Times, and Bill Recktenwald, who was chief investigator for the Better Government Association, worked together in this 25-part series where the Sun-Times bought a dive bar at 731 N. Wells St. in order to expose the misconduct of city inspectors on the take.


Veteran journalists Robert H. Jordan Jr. and Mary Schmich received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Jordan worked for more than 40 years at WGN-TV and most recently, he had been anchor for the weekend edition of WGN News at Nine. He joined WGN-TV as a general assignment reporter in March 1973. Five years later, Jordan moved to the CBS News Midwest Bureau in Chicago, covering stories in the Midwest for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He returned to WGN-TV in 1980.

Schmich has worked for the Chicago Tribune since 1985. Briefly a features writer, she then spent five years as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. She has written a column since 1992. She writes three times a week, mostly about Chicago but also about life at large. She has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. Before being honored with the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, she was a Pulitzer finalist for both features and commentary. From 1985 through 2010, she wrote the Brenda Starr comic strip.


Veteran journalists Jon Hilkevitch, Linda Lenz and Harry Porterfield received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Hilkevitch was a Chicago Tribune transportation writer and columnist for nearly 37 years and is best known for his “Getting Around” column and for hard-hitting investigations of Chicago area transit. Lenz is the founder and longtime publisher of Catalyst Chicago, a publication dedicated to chronicling efforts to educate the city’s children. Porterfield was an anchorman and reporter at CBS 2 and ABC 7 for more than 50 years. He was perhaps best known for his long-running profile series, “Someone You Should Know,” which first aired in 1977.


Veteran journalists Felicia Middlebrooks and Greg Hinz received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Middlebrooks has co-anchored CBS Radio/WBBM Newsradio’s morning drive news since October 1984. Hinz, who has covered city politics for 40 years, is chief political reporter, blogger and columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business.


Veteran journalists Bill Kurtis, Karen Meyer and Tracy Baim received Lifetime Achievement Awards. Mr. Kurtis is the former anchorman of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, where he first started in 1966. Deaf since birth, Ms. Meyer reports on disabilities for ABC7. Ms. Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Media Group, which produces Windy City Times, Nightspots, and other gay media in Chicago.


The 2012 Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to nationally syndicated columnist and Chicago Tribune editorial board member Clarence Page and WBBM Newsradio reporter John Cody.


The 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award was given to NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell.


The 2010 Lifetime Achievement Awards recognized Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and his reviews are syndicated in more than 200 newspapers around the world. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1975. Ebert is the only film critic honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. •Richard C. Longworth Richard, a veteran of the City News Bureau, UPI both in Chicago and abroad and the Chicago Tribune where he spent nearly 30 years as an economics reporter, business editor, chief European correspondent and senior writer. •Elizabeth Brackett Elizabeth currently serves as correspondent and substitute host for WTTW11’s flagship nightly public affairs program Chicago Tonight. During her tenure, she has covered presidential, mayoral and gubernatorial races, Chicago financial exchanges, the Chicago Bulls and genetic research, to name a few. Since 1984, she has also served as local correspondent for the PBS program The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.


The Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award went to ABC7’s Andy Shaw and Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.


The Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded since 2002.