It is with a heavy heart that I offer my farewell to The Chicago Reporter. After 12 years with the Reporter, having served as a reporter, then senior editor, and finally editor and publisher, I am leaving this esteemed news organization to become a senior investigator with the Better Government Association.
It has been a true honor to have served as the Reporter’s leader for nearly four years. I feel privileged to have held the publisher title. But I could no longer resist the lure of my true passion: the day-to-day work of investigative and computer-assisted reporting in the public’s interest.
It has been a fun and fulfilling 12 years. When I started at the Reporter in September 1999, I planned to spend a couple of years at the publication before moving on to my next journalism job. But I fell in love with the place, the work, the people, the mission and the potential of the magazine.
It was at a community meeting in Englewood in January 2000 where I first got a chance to see the impact of the Reporter’s work. Barack Obama, Bobby Rush and Donne Trotter were in attendance, along with 60 Englewood residents, all to hear about the Reporter’s special report on Englewood and its policing and mental health needs.
In the days since then, I have been humbled by the power of investigative journalism with a focus on race and poverty. I’ve seen our work do many things:
- Compel state lawmakers to change the ways juveniles are automatically transferred to adult court;
- Persuade the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to sue two major mortgage lenders for discriminatory lending practices and spark an $8.7 billion settlement to restructure 400,000 home loans nationwide;
- Frustrate the Illinois State Police to comply with more than 1,500 previously ignored court orders to expunge or seal criminal records of ex-offenders desperately seeking work and new lives;
- Urge one state representative to seek an extension of Illinois’ traffic stop study due to disproportionate traffic stops and vehicle searches of black and Latino drivers;
- Persuade the Chicago Police Department to bolster policing of public housing developments slated for demolition;
- Illuminate the needs of nearly 90,000 children with incarcerated parents in Illinois;
- And energize one state senator in her successful efforts to win mandatory minimum staffing levels at Illinois nursing homes, particularly overcrowded and understaffed majority-black nursing homes.
During my time here, I’ve been offered opportunities to learn and perfect new skills and to challenge and stretch myself as a leader and social commentator. I am eternally grateful for all that the Community Renewal Society and the Reporter have provided me.
I leave on good terms, and I plan to be a lifelong supporter of the Reporter and frequent contributor. After all, I’m a big fan. The Reporter’s team is top notch. Angela Caputo, Maria Zamudio, Megan Cottrell, Micah Maidenberg and Stephen Ross Johnson are smart and tenacious reporters; Christine Wachter is a creative graphic artist and skilled visual editor; Rui Kaneya is a solid newsman and shrewd editor; and Kimbriell Kelly is an experienced investigative journalist, a dynamic leader and a rising star in the Chicago journalism scene. I am confident that, as editor and interim publisher, she will take the Reporter to the next level.
Thank you for reading and supporting our work. I firmly believe that the Reporter is still needed to provide the context and clarity that is so often missing from today’s news coverage about issues affecting the poor and communities of color.