Long-form journalism

I'm grateful whenever I get the chance to report stories in depth. This enables me to pursue my favorite aspects of writing and reporting: obsessive research, penetrating interviews and carefully constructed narratives. 

All big cities have a violence problem. Chicago's is different.

All big cities have a violence problem. Chicago's is different. How safe is Chicago? The answer depends on where you're standing. The North Side is as safe as it's been in a generation, with a homicide rate that has declined steadily throughout this century, barely ticking up during the especially violent years of 2016 and 2020, then falling again in 2021, even as the city as a whole experienced its bloodiest year since the mid-1990s, according to Chicago Police Department data. The homicide rat

COVID-19 upends daily life for parents, students

WINNER OF A 2021 LISAGOR AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHICAGO JOURNALISM Laura and Sam Alvarez felt as though they had hit the jackpot a year ago when their son got in the preschool class at Inter-American Elementary Magnet School through the lottery system. Inter-American, in Wrigleyville, is a top performer among Chicago Public Schools, and its bilingual focus was perfect for the Alvarezes, who speak English and Spanish at their Albany Park home. Sure enough, Lukas loved his first year at Inter-American and began reading in both languages.

COVID forces a rethinking of the spaces where health care happens

March and April of this year were a golden age for panicked experimentation. As crews raced to convert McCormick Place from a trade-show mecca into a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients, doctors across the Chicago area scrambled to find those dusty back pages in their strategic plans around telemedicine. The race to implementation had high stakes, because patients who would otherwise have visited a hospital or outpatient clinic for routine care instead stayed away from health facilities. T

Special section: How to create and sustain more women-led businesses

THE ASSIGNMENT: This four-story section from 2018 highlights some of the unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs. THE LEAD: It is, in one sense, a golden era for female entrepreneurs in America: There are 11.6 million women-owned businesses nationwide, or nearly 40 percent of all companies. The 114 percent increase in women-owned businesses over the last two decades far outpaces the overall growth rate of 44 percent, according to a 2017 American Express report.

Can a program designed for British diplomats fix Chicago's schools?

THE ASSIGNMENT: Last fall, when Chicago Public Schools signaled its plans to double down on the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum as a means of boosting the quality of neighborhood schools, I looked into IB's global origins and its track record and potential in Chicago. THE LEAD: Senn High senior Shrda Shrestha is attending her neighborhood high school in Edgewater against pretty much everybody’s advice. ...

It Will Take a Stoner Savant to Lead the Craft Beer Revolution

THE ASSIGNMENT: I wrote this profile about Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas Brewing, just before Lagunitas opened its HQ2 in Chicago. THE LEAD: Tony Magee is singing, but on a recent weeknight the crowd at Riverview Tavern in Roscoe Village hardly notices. They are talking, drinking, watching an NBA playoff game—anything but paying attention to the disheveled middle-aged white guy who is finger-picking old blues tunes on a classic Martin. Once he finishes his last song, he puts the guitar down and stands there alone. A few uncomfortable ...

Ward Eight: Hand-Crafted Cocktails and a Baby

THE ASSIGNMENT: A profile of the owners of a craft-cocktail bar on the Chicago-Evanston border, who lived above the bar—along with their baby. THE LEAD: Raising an infant while living upstairs from a bar sounds like a nightmare. Yet for Cody Modeer and Anne Carlson, it’s the glorious fulfillment of a dream. It helps that they own the place: the bar, the second-floor back office, and the third-floor apartment where they live. It also helps that their sophisticated crowd goes for craft cocktails and conversation, so the noise barely ever trickles upstairs ...

Is being "good" good for business?

THE ASSIGNMENT: This four-story package from 2014 examines the rise of corporations focused on social impact. THE LEAD: Tim Frick thought he was running a “good” business—that is, an enterprise that was both altruistic and profitable. At his 16-year-old Ravenswood Web design firm, Mightybytes Inc., Mr. Frick and his 12 employees compost and recycle, and everyone works surrounded by living, green walls made of plants that inch their way toward the ceiling. ...