Natalie Moore’s award acceptance remarks

I knew I waned to be a journalist at age 13.

In high school I saw an episode of “Murphy Brown,” the television show starring Candice Bergen as the intrepid reporter. I thought it was a sign when she got an aggressive intern named… Natalie Moore.

I also had fantasies of New York in high school. By the time I got to Howard University, I just knew I was going to eventually move to Greenwich Village and write for the Village Voice. But then, in the summer of 1995, I came back home to Chicago after freshman year for my very first journalism internship. Laura Washington hired me at The Chicago Reporter. And that turned me on to hard news as a career.

I have interned and worked at several newspapers around the country. But I always wanted my career to be in Chicago. Urban affairs and storytelling about real people motivate me.  What better place to do that than your hometown? Especially if you grew up on the South Side.

Four years ago I moved back to Chicago. In 2007, I approached Chicago Public Radio about the possibility of freelancing. I had no radio journalism experience. Yet managing editor Sally Eisele suggested that I apply for this new bureau position on the South Side. I was immediately intrigued.  This was opportunity to tell nuanced, complicated, important, eye opening, critical, wonky and newsworthy stories from the South Side.

There are so many stereotypes that people have about the South Side  – including Chicagoans. I remember taking an urban policy class in grad school at Northwestern. The professor took us all over the city – north, west and south sides. She even let me narrate part of the tour. I’ll never forget the reaction some of my classmates had when they saw middle-class black neighborhoods on the South Side. Wow, some of them said, this is nicer than Bridgeport. The racial subtext was all too clear.

I don’t think can slay every misnomer people may have about the South Side – or black people – ever time I do a story. But I do hope I give listeners something to think about and a better understanding of the region they live in.

I don’t know of any other news organization in the county that has bureaus dedicated to covering neighborhoods. One of the odd responses that I have received a few times   is from people who question why a news operation has a bureau in the city. Curiously, I never got that kind of questioning when I’ve been a newspaper reporter in a suburban bureau.

The shift away from neighborhood and urban journalism is real. I think that’s part of why some people wrinkle their noses at on-the-ground reporting. Every day I am thankful for the opportunities given to me at WBEZ.  I thank Sally and my editor Julia McEvoy. Also thanks to Cate Cahan, Steve Edwards and Torey Malatia.

In addition to Laura Washington, there are other journalism colleagues, editors, instructors and mentors who have received the Studs Terkel award. I am grateful to be in the company of Linda Lutton, Curtis Lawrence, Alden Loury, Cheryl Corley, Teresa Puente, Achy Obejas And, of course, thanks to my family, friends and colleagues who are celebrating with me tonight.

I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet Studs Terkel. You can’t be a reporter in this town and not know the significance and legacy of Studs Terkel. This truly is an honor.

Thank you, Community Media Workshop.

Back to Profile | 2010 Studs Terkel Awards | About the Studs Terkel Awards