Editor and Publisher
The Chicago Reporter is in the process of conducting a search for our Interim Editor and Publisher.
Josh McGhee is a boots-on-the-ground reporter covering criminal justice, education, labor, housing, politics and culture. Prior to the Reporter, he served as the executive producer of the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON and reported for DNAinfo Chicago.
At WVON, he also produced a radio docu-series on the Great Migration. At DNAinfo, Josh covered Chicago at a block-by-block level covering neighborhood change and homicide victims. In 2016, he won a Peter Lisagor Award for Best Feature Series with his “Chicago Homeless Get Left Behind” series.
Fun Fact: As a youngster, Josh played competitive chess, tap-danced, took Tae Kwon Doe and played the drums. The more you know.
John A. McDermott
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.