Mick Dumke has been writing for the Chicago Reader since 2005. His investigative reporting, often with teammate Ben Joravsky (1995 Terkel winner), has helped shine a light on Chicago’s parking meter deal, ineffective gun control laws, government budgeting tricks, and the racially disproportionate impacts of drug policies.
“I have ended up writing about power and the use and abuse of power,” Dumke said.
Dumke said he admires how Terkel sought justice in his storytelling.
“That’s what it’s about for me,” Dumke said.
Previously Mick worked as a staffer for the Chicago News Cooperative. He got noticed in Chicago for his early work at the Chicago Reporter. There he covered a range of social issues from childhood asthma to the elementary school dropout rate and political corruption.
One of Dumke’s first mentors was renowned Chicago journalist Laura Washington, also a former Studs Terkel winner.
Dumke said he remembered when Washington received the award.
“This is a person that has done journalism that matters,” Dumke said of the former editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter and current Sun-Times columnist.
He recognized how important the Studs Terkel award is to Chicago journalists.
“So many people I respect are on that list (of Terkel winners),” Dumke added.
Dumke recalled the first time he met Studs Terkel when he was a graduate student studying theology in the late 1990s. He was at an event and was seated at the same table with Terkel. He recalled how encouraging Terkel was to him at that time.
“Studs Terkel has had a huge influence on me,” Dumke said. “It’s pretty awesome to have my name attached to his.”
Dumke also worked at newspapers in Michigan and Virginia, where he covered everything from country music to high school basketball and the U.S. Navy. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, and many other publications.
He’s also has taught journalism at Northwestern University and Columbia College Chicago. Before becoming a full-time journalist, Dumke taught social studies and math at an alternative high school, worked in a church homeless ministry, studied ethics and theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Hyde Park, and coached youth swimming in his hometown of St. Joseph, Michigan.