Chicago's Unsung Journalists

Some of the best journalists in our city are rarely seen on TV screen. They are newspaper reporters, radio hosts, photographers,  producers and editors and every one in between. But most people immediately think of a TV anchor or reporter when the word “journalist” comes to mind. Thankfully, I’m here to hip you to some of our city’s most influential storytellers–the ones you might not easily recognize on the street.

Mick Dumke, “Chicago Reader”

The 40 year old “muckraker” is an old school journalist with a new school approach to storytelling. This guy actually filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago and former Mayor Richard Daley! (As we say in the ‘hood: “Where dey do dat at?”) But he has balls. He’s not a TV investigative reporter who lives in a condo with a round the clock doorman. [They don’t pay that much at the Chicago Reader].  Yet, his passion for finding the truth always seems to add to the thrill of what he does. If you haven’t read his stuff yet, you should give it a try.

Kathy Chaney, “Chicago Defender”

I won’t tell her age, but she’s a living example of the scripture talking about “a prophet with no honor in her own land.”  The folks at Headline News (the sister station of CNN) have used her more than our local TV stations. But as web editor of Chicago’s longest running African-American newspaper, Kathy can make her own clout. One of the biggest issues she covers is missing people of color. While some will blame the national media for only focusing on the big names, she has become a voice for the forgotten youth. In addition to that, Kathy Chaney is a tweet-a-holic who updates her followers on news stories and her love for a particular soft drink. [You’ll have to follow her on Twitter to find out which one it is.]

Marc Sims, “Viewpoint Chicago”

He’s the most non-traditional journalist around. He talks over his interview subjects and he rarely uses a tripod. But Marc Sims has a gift for getting the most candid interviews with some of Chicago’s unseen movers, shakers, and just plain crazy people. For me, that’s what is missing from journalism today. It seems as if the sound bites are PR friendly and manufactured. But I want to see real people on the news being just that–real. While Mr. Sims could be viewed by some as too opinionated, I see him quite differently. He is an involved parent who works a regular job hoping that his kids will surpass him with their success. For the past 20 years, he has been seen on public access TV as the host of “Viewpoint”, which is a show that is part commentary, part entertainment, and completely original. If you haven’t checked out his channel, you’re missing out.

Kathryn Janicek, Daypart Manager (Executive Producer) at WMAQ-TV ( NBC 5 Chicago )

She is a news hound. When I scroll through my Facebook news feed, I always see relevant stories posted by Kathryn. And she promotes her station quite well. That’s a tough thing to do when you live in a city with at least 5 options for major news coverage every day.

But I’m not being partial to Channel 5. I just see that they are doing something different with their online strategy.

Tim Boyd, Photographer at WTTW-TV (PBS Chicago)

You might not think of a photographer as a real “journalist”, but without someone taking those moving pictures–all you have is a flat screen radio. But I’ve had the honor of working with him when I interned at ‘TTW. He’s hilarious and a very good teacher. I owe a lot of what I know about TV lighting and photography to him. But of course, my co-producers Barbara Allen and Dan Andries deserve even more credit for giving me the opportunity. It’s just that most people wouldn’t know who Tim was if I didn’t give him the shout out.

John “JP” Paulus & Levois “Lee-Voice” Jenkins, The Sixth Ward Blog

For the purposes of full disclosure, JP and Levois (like many of the folks above) are people I’ve met before. To be honest, I used to write for the Sixth Ward Blog. However, it is a QUALITY source of news for residents in the area it’s named for.

But these are just a few of the folks who stand out to me.

If there are any I missed, please add below.


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