Mar 12, 2010
Wednesday night at our benefit, Mary Mitchell said it best: our Terkel winners – Kate Grossman of the Chicago Sun-Times, Natalie Moore of WBEZ and Josh Kalven, Angela Caputo, and Adam Doster of Progress Illinois do their work “…with compassion and class. And did I mention, style?”
Actually, Mary was introducing Kate Grossman, her colleague at the Sun-Times. But her choice of words was apt for all the honorees. We did not take great notes—it was our party, after all, and we floated through it—but paused between sips to scribble down some quotable quotes.
Not too shabby for a group of journalists who all more or less admitted they lean toward covering a topic you seldom hear the original Studs Terkel quoted saying: Policy.
“What I really am,” Kate told some 250 supporters and friends of Community Media Workshop, “is a policywonk disguised as a journalist.”
Natalie – who revealed that she knew she was destined for news at age 13 when she noticed Candace Bergen in Murphy Brown, had an intern named… Natalie Moore! – told us why she is at WBEZ: to produce “Wonky, important, critical eye-opening, and newsworthy stories.”
Josh Kalven talked about policy, too. His favorite story of Progress Illinois’ effect on its readers, he said, is about the 20-year-old who emailed to say she learned something about state government from the site. His goal? “Be a point of entry into the civic process.”
Probably no-one would confuse the late Studs Terkel with a policywonk. As Tim Black put it in a `reminiscence Wednesday, Studs was always busy with his own projects: “What was he busy about? Making wherever he was a better place. That was part of his calling.”
The same can be said of Kate, Natalie, and Josh, Adam and Angela. There are many kinds of journalism out there… from bloody-leads to puff pieces, but perhaps the hardest of all to do and do well is journalism that explains the complex issues related to how we run our governments, work together, and much more.
As our emcee Cheryl Corley of National Public Radio put it, there’s a difference between knowing what you know and telling what you know. Our thanks go to these journalists, who know how to find the stories and tell them. Keep an eye out for them in the future!
Oh, and speaking of style: Steve Kapelke, provost at Columbia College Chicago, which has graciously hosted the Workshop since 1993, offered that (and we think he’s right), “There’s not another city in the country that would provide a home for a group like Community Media Workshop… that’s a tribute to the Workshop, and to Chicago.” We’d like to thank him and recognize Mitchell Wenkus, the Columbia graduating senior who won this year’s $2,000 student scholarship award.
And finally: if you were there, thanks. And a special thanks to the folks who helped make this event—and all our work—possible: honorary co-chairs Dan Haley & Andy Johnston of Wednesday Journal and Tracy Baim of Windy City Media Group, plus our benefit committee chairs Nicole Gotthelf and Mary Fran Riley and underwriters Columbia College Chicago, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Wednesday Journal, Inc. and media sponsor Chicago Public Radio. Thanks, all.