Working with reporters, shaping stories on a daily basis is a great challenge and a wonderful experience. It is perhaps what I am most proud of — that I strive for consistent deadline-driven high standards while fostering a team environment that supports excellence and collegial respect. Here are a few projects that I am particularly proud to have shepherded, some of which have won awards. They include:
- The state’s numbers: AP members’ series — Sometimes it’s about working outside our silos. The statewide project evolved from a long conversation I had with Chicago Bureau AP officials on how to craft a cooperative investigation with AP staff and member papers. Our newspaper went to town and delivered a two-week package that helped reader’s understand how the budget crisis affected them.
- Burger King murder investigation — Sometimes it is about taking a careful second look. We turned over many stones in an unsolved double-homicide and found severe mishandling of the crime scene by a police chief who seemed to have orchestrated a cover-up. As a result, the investigation was taken over by the Illinois State Police.
- FOIA forum — our gift to you — Sometimes it’s about education. After receiving a lot of push-back about Freedom on Information requests, we realized people didn’t understand the law. We brought together all sides — those who implemented the law from the attorney general’s office, the man who helped craft the law and the local state’s attorney, who was against it. Then, we invited the public to join us. Several hundred did. We also published a special section covering the event and explaining the law and how it works.
- Childhood Asthma and Lead Poisoning in Chicago, an investigative series — Sometimes it’s about consolidating resources. I brought together former investigative colleagues from The Chicago Reporter with the resources and platform of Chicago Parent magazine — the result was a whole issue devoted to the problems and the solutions to stopping childhood asthma and lead poisoning — two preventable diseases that are killing Chicago children.
- Sweepstakes award? Us? The budget crisis in Springfield affects education in every community. But translating the issue to the readers of The Daily Journal was not easy. Therefore, we took 26 installments and a whole newsroom to explain what was at stake and what could be done. The series “Education in Crisis” won several awards, including the statewide AP sweepstakes award for excellence.