L. Nicole Trottie
L. Nicole Trottie is the founder and former publisher of West Suburban Journal Newspaper, making her Illinois’ first African-American woman to launch an accredited weekly newspaper. Before that, her professional career spanned 12 years in the telecommunications industry.
Trottie’s inspiration to launch the West Suburban Journal was sparked by a void of media representation in communities of color. The weekly paper fills that void by maintaining a system of checks and balances through reporting on issues from a perspective that’s relevant and representative of the minority population.
Trottie’s accomplishments in the field of journalism, business, and activism include several journalism honors and awards, the passage of legislation to help level the playing field for small- and Black-owned publishers, community organizing, the passage of the IL Digital Divide legislation, the NAACP Excellence in Journalism Award and countless local community-based awards.
In December 2004, U.S. Senator Barack Obama credentialed Trottie into the U.S. Senate – House Press Gallery. In January 2005, the Journal reported from the steps of the D.C. Rotunda, on the Senate Inaugural and swearing-in of the I09th Congressional Black Caucus. On the Hill, the Journal is affectionately known as “Barack’s hometown paper”.
Since its launch in 2004, the Journal tripled its weekly publication count and more than quadrupled its circulation from 6,000 to 30,000 under Trottie’s leadership, and today it boasts three weekly newspapers and two periodicals.
In 2010, the Illinois Press Association (IPA), the largest association of accredited newspapers in the nation, took notice of Trottie’s accomplishments in the newspaper industry. She was unanimously voted a member of the Executive Board by the IPA governing body, making her the first African-American to serve among its executive ranks in its 150-year newspaper rich history.
An active member of her community, Trottie was appointed and served as the NAACP DuPage Branch, President of Media Relations. She founded the Annual EDIFY SK Run/Walk to benefit Tabitha Community Services, a women and children homeless shelter based in the Chicago, Austin area. In addition to her involvement with the NAACP and charitable work; she served as a youth mentor for Mayor Daley’s Professional Mentor initiative and tutors in an adult literacy/GED program.
Trottie was born in Philadelphia. She received her undergraduate degree from Eastern Illinois University with a major in Political Science/Sociology and a minor in English, while simultaneously studying at Northern Illinois University College of Law, where she received the Program for Minority Access to Law School (P.M.A.L.S.) Scholarship. Trottie obtained her MBA Certificate in Business Development and is a finisher of two consecutive Chicago Marathons.
Hugo Balta is the Chicago Reporter’s Executive Editor. Balta is responsible for guiding reporting that is inclusive and reflective of the diverse communities of Chicago, provide clear coverage strategies, and enable journalists to do their best possible work, balancing daily news with longer-term investigations.
Balta is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia College Chicago. He teaches hands-on/lecture courses that provide an opportunity for young journalists to practice with his or her own material in the production of news stories.
Hugo Balta is the twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In 2016, he was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame,
He is the founder of the Hortencia Zavala Foundation, a not-for-profit organization providing scholarships and mentoring for aspiring journalists.
A decorated, 30-year news veteran with multiple market experience, Balta has held leadership positions with storied news networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, PBS and Telemundo.
A recognized champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion – Balta is a sought after speaker, consultant, and author.
Originally from northern New Jersey, he now resides in Chicago with his wife Adriana, and two children, Isabella and Esteban.
Editor and Publisher of The Chicago Reporter
1972 to 1985
“Race,” John A. McDermott wrote, “touches everybody and everything. Racial peace and progress are more than moral ideals today. They are matters of profound self-interest to every person and institution in this community.”
That philosophy, posed in the inaugural editorial in The Chicago Reporter, was the mission of McDermott’s life and his most lasting legacy. In 1972, the civil rights activist founded a publication that he promised would go far beyond “mere muckraking.” The Reporter would be “dispassionate, accurate and constructive in its approach” to the “make or break” issue of race.
McDermott dedicated his career to fighting for racial progress. In 1960, the Philadelphia native moved to Chicago to serve as director of the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago. There, he helped organize the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1966 trip to Chicago, as well as King’s meeting with then-Mayor Richard J. Daley. He also marched with King in Selma, Ala., and in Chicago. And McDermott helped create the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, a Chicago-based fair housing group.
McDermott served as editor and publisher of the Reporter from 1972 to 1985. Chicago magazine once hailed McDermott the “Editor for the Public Conscience.” His publication became the foremost, most trusted resource on race and poverty in the city, winning more than 30 journalism awards under his tenure.
He passed away in 1996 after a long battle with leukemia, leaving behind his wife, Marie Therese, and three sons: John Jr., Michael and Matthew.
And an award-winning news organization that continues McDermott’s original charge: To “tell it like it is.”
Publisher of Catalyst Chicago
1990 to 2016
In 1989, when the Chicago School Reform Act gave rise to local school councils and other major policy changes, Linda Lenz, then an education writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, saw the need for a publication that would focus on public education with the kind of detail and depth that her newspaper and others could not.
At the time, Chicago was about to elect its first LSC members, and Lenz knew from her reporting that while many of the parents, teachers and community members on these panels would bring fresh insights, they also would face a knowledge gap about the larger issues that would affect their work and their schools.
She brought her idea to the Community Renewal Society, and soon after published the first issue of Catalyst in February 1990.
It quickly became a trusted watchdog and resource for school improvement in Chicago.
Catalyst combined data analysis, extensive on-the-ground reporting and a wealth of knowledge about the Chicago Public Schools to address a wide range of topics, among them issues in teaching and learning, school choice, equity in school resources and the latest relevant research.
Most notably, it was Catalyst reporting that sparked the federal investigation into a questionable $20 million no-bid CPS contract for principal training, which led in turn to corruption charges against CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett, who pleaded guilty.
Such reporting brought Catalyst and its small staff dozens of national and local awards.
In 2016, Lenz retired from her position as publisher, and Catalyst and The Reporter began a merger that aims to broaden education coverage by examining other issues, besides schools, that have an impact on student learning.