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Nearly four years working as a fulltime reporter in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood taught me a couple of things. First, writing about a neighborhood and living there too is somewhat tough. I would always see people that I had interviewed previously walking down the street, at the grocery store or post office. Sometimes a good thing. Sometimes a bad thing.

There were a bunch of important skills that I walked away with smiling.

In 2006, my newspaper (Lakefront Outlook) became the first free weekly paper to win the George Polk Awards in Journalism from Long Island University. This award is one of the most coveted journalism awards.

George_Polk_Awards_Logo

We (four reporters and intern) wrote a series of stories about aldermanic malfeasance which centered around the Harold Washington Cultural Center on Chicago’s South Side. The series prompted an run-off with the incumbent and challenger, with the challenger winning. Another result of our win was the other news organizations paying closer attention to what was happening with the Harold Washington Cultural Center. News reports say that the Harold Washington Cultural Center is now in foreclosure.

We were featured in Jet magazine and other publications. That same year Spike Lee won for his documentary “When the Levees Broke – A Requiem In Four Acts.”

Also, at the Hyde Park Herald I had a chance to pick up a skill: editing. I honestly didn’t know how much I enjoyed editing until I realized the need. Having a fantabulous editor is incredibly crucial for any good story. Invest in an editor because we can make sure ideas are concise, simple and clear. Super important.

The abiliity to recognize a good story and news (sometimes two things) is important.

Finally, the reporters I worked with added to the quality of my stories and I totally appreciate that.