Our History

The Chicago Reporter was founded by John A. McDermott in 1972, a time when Chicago, as the rest of the nation, struggled to come to terms with the gains of the civil rights era and the resistance that followed. McDermott, active in the city's civil rights movement for almost ten years, saw that the era of marches and lunch counter protests had come to an end. What people needed, if they were to follow what was happening, were facts.

The investigative publication set on a mission of documenting the city's, and later the whole metropolitan area's, struggles with the burning issues of race and poverty. While still in its infancy, in its trademark style of dispassionate but exhaustive reporting, the Reporter broke dozens of stories documenting widespread discrimination against African Americans in corporate hiring, city services and governmental affairs.

Over the years the city has changed. More minorities have been thrown into the city's already considerable mix. Nearly one-fourth of today's Chicagoans are Latinos, and other groups, like Asians, are also growing fast. The Reporter has kept ahead of the curve, reaching into Latino neighborhoods as they are becoming a pivotal power in the city. The Reporter has also risen to the task of reporting on and analyzing questions of race and poverty that are much more complicated than the "black and white" issues of the early days.

More than four decades later, the Reporter has continued to cover Chicago's streets, neighborhoods and institutions, winning dozens of awards. Its pioneering use of computer assisted reporting has also allowed it to scour the city's databases and computer discs, carrying on as gumshoes in the computer age. Used by legislators, policy makers, academics and individuals nationwide, the Reporter continues to break the news and influence the agenda in Chicago.

In 2016, the Reporter began a merger with its sister publication Catalyst, which for 25 years was a trusted watchdog and resource for school improvement in Chicago. Under the leadership of its founder, Linda Lenz, Catalyst combined data analysis, extensive on-the-ground reporting and a wealth of knowledge about the Chicago Public Schools to address a wide range of topics, among them issues in teaching and learning, school choice, equity in school resources and the latest relevant research. The merger will allow the Reporter to broaden its education coverage to include higher education, regional and national news, and other issues outside of school that have an impact on student learning.

The Reporter is a publication of the Community Renewal Society.