Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rotary Holiday Party and Auction December 9

This just in...

The Rotary Club of Evanston cordially invites friends and neighbors to eat, drinking and be merry at its annual holiday party and auction.

The evening will feature a live and silent auction, live music, a dinner buffet and an open bar.

"This is one of our biggest fundraisers for the Club. It provides funds for our Charitable Fund that allows us to do so much good in the community through our grants program," says Dick Peach, a key organizer of the event.

When: Thursday, December 9, starting at 6 p.m.

Where: North Shore Hotel, 1611 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL 60201

Cost: $70 prior to December 6; $75 at the door.

RSVP: Online or by calling Dick at 847-702-1423 and sending a check payable to "Rotary Club of Evanston Charitable Fund" to Rotary Club of Evanston, P.O. Box 84, Evanston, IL 60204, Attn: Holiday Party.

Oh, by the way, Joel Lerner, Genie Lemieux, Jill Brazel and I have donated portraits to the silent auction. Other generous folks have donate some neat items too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NBC Chicago's looking for a winter intern

This in from NBC Chicago Executive Producer Kathryn Janicek...

I am looking for a winter intern for the NBC Chicago morning show.

Dream candidate:
can start in December,
is a junior or senior,
has taken a few journalism classes including TV writing,
knows the benefits of social media,
and can work early morning hours 3-4 days a week.

The winter NBC Chicago morning show intern can expect to:
shadow reporters during live shots,
learn to write TV news for a live broadcast,
use social media to help promote stories and build relationships with viewers;
and help book guests.

Please have all potential candidates email me directly at kathryn.janicek@nbcuni.com.

Journalists and journalism students can learn about more career opportunities on the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago's listserv.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kinnier Lastimosa's Excellent Day

Glimpse of Evanston - October 22, 2010

After a nostalgic ride on the Purple Line up to Evanston, we celebrated my wife's 10-year college reunion by attending the
Northwestern homecoming reception, pep rally and parade.  During the pep rally, the audience gathered on Deering Field to
enjoy inspirational words by Coach Fitzgerald, music by the full Northwestern University Marching Band, performances by
the cheerleaders and the Ladycats, and purple flag waving by the colorguard, which caught my eye.

We followed the spirit squad down to Sheridan Road and watched them prepare for the Homecoming Parade.  That partially
behind-the-scene glimpse enthralled me as much as the parade itself, during which a cheerleader accidentally pegged me in
the forehead with a piece of hard candy.  I was occupied photographing and did not even get to retrieve the candy and enjoy
the spoils.

Instead, after a peek at our old dorm (Public Affairs Residential College), we stopped by Andy's Frozen Custard.  The recent
addition to downtown Evanston featured a $0.99 one-day special on a pumpkin pie concrete, the perfect sweet treat to
conclude the fall evening.

Kinnier Lastimosa is an attorney by day and a photographer other times.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Celebrating Alice C.D. Riley Sept 30

This just in...

The Evanston Art Center (EAC) will celebrate the legacy of its founder, Alice C.D. Riley, with an evening in her honor at the Evanston History Center September 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided as well as tours of the Dawes House, information on EAC's Alice Riley Society, remarks on the history of the EAC and the fascinating woman who started it all, Alice C.D. Riley. The cost for the event is $10 per person. For tickets, please call 847-475-5300 to make a reservation.

The Evanston Art Center, founded in 1929, is dedicated to fostering the appreciation and expression of the visual arts among the diverse audiences of the North Shore/Greater Chicago region.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Help a Reporter Out and Get Your Story Told

Dawn Reiss offers advice on working with journalists

Earlier this year I lead a panel discussion for non-profit communicators and other community members about how people with stories to offer the media can work with freelance journalists at Community Media Workshop’s Making Media Connections conference at Columbia College. I asked my colleague, independent journalist Dawn Reiss to write down some of the ideas she thought those approaching journalists should know.  Here’s what she had to say.

Many publicists, media relations “experts” think they know what reporters really want. Most don’t and only a few actually find out. The good ones are former reporters. They understand deadlines, how to pitch, nudge but not overwork a reporter. Here are a few tips based on more than a decade in the business.

•    Do some homework on the reporter before you pitch. Know what publications a reporter covers. If they cover a lot, like I do--newspapers, blogs, magazines, national and local outlets, online outlets--note the daily and long-term deadlines. Pitch appropriately. Google a reporter’s name. Most have something online.

•    Pitch three story ideas. If you strike out on the first two, chances you’ll get it on the third try.

•    Your story ideas answer this question: Why should we care? Also ask yourself, why is this important? Who does this affect?

•    Cut out the bull. We don’t care about adjectives and superlatives. Just the facts. I don’t have time for the extraneous spin and colorful details with flowery writing. Find factoids, give bullets, short paragraphs, 3-4 at the most.

•    When you give details, make sure you can back them up. If you say this is the tallest building in Chicago, give the height, square footage and the previous tallest building. The less initial research a reporter has to do, the more likely you are to get that reporter to follow-up.

•    Make sure you have information online. It doesn’t matter if it is a website, Facebook page or a blog. I need to show my editor something.

•    Give me all that fancy packet, brochure information in e-form. Just PDF it. It’s quicker. I hate snail mail. It takes too long and too bulky to keep track of.

•    This is a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you the number of times people don’t do this. If you call and get a reporter on the phone who has questions and asks for a follow-up, actually follow-up. Ask their deadline, be prompt and try to get back before they originally asked and even if you don’t have the information they requested, call back and tell them so, so they aren’t waiting.

•    Give me photos and videos. We live in a multi-media world. Many of us are mobile journalists. Photos sell a story. But don’t give me stock photos of an empty room. If it is a restaurant opening, give me photos with people in it. I may not need this in the initial pitch, but it certainly helps to paint a picture.

•    Be “politely aggressive.” Pick up the phone and call. I get 300+ emails a day. Some reporters hate to be called. I don’t. If you get a reporter who hates phone calls, just apologize. The worst that can happen is they will be annoyed, but more likely they will just apologize for being overworked since newsrooms and freelancers are inundated with people trying to pitch them. The ratio I last heard was one pr to one reporter.

•    Treat ALL reporters (and other people) with respect. You never know who will end up where next. It’s like a revolving door. A reporter may be someone’s editor in a year from now and vice versa. The most annoying thing is to have a publicist treat a freelancer like a “half-rate” journalist. I think approximately 50 percent of all journalists are now freelancers. Frankly, you’re more likely to get “in” with a freelance journalist who has to frequently pitch to a variety of editors than a reporter who has to worry less about writing a certain number of stories each month.

•    Get on HARO (Help a Reporter Out), Profnet or Reporter Connection and become a resource. Once you become a source for one or two reporters you’re likely to get called again because reporters usually research what has already been written and go back to reliable sources.

•    If you’re trying to find reporters to pitch, read bylines and check out some of these websites’ databases: mediabistro.com, CWIP (Chicago Women in Publishing), AWJ-Chicago (Association of Women Journalists-Chicago), Chicago Headline Club (the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the largest Chicago-based journalism organization), AAJA (Asian American Journalist Association) and Freelancesuccess.com, a great resource for freelancers and publicists. (There are plenty of others too.)

Use Social Media

This is so overlooked by so many people. You need to use it and think about the future. Everyone is going mobile. Most media organizations now have apps or are in the process of creating one. Look at how your website comes up on a smartphone. If it doesn’t work well, consider revamping your page.


•    Make lists to help “divide and conquer” your different topics, reporters to follow, everyone.

•    Consider using:  Tweetdeck, Friendorfollow.com, PeopleBrowsr.com, Tweetmeme.com, Twitalyzer.com or Twinfluence.com

•    Create a custom Twitter templates: Mytweetspace.com, Twitterbacks.com and Twitterbackgrounds.com

•    RT (Re-Tweet), Pay a compliment, Pay it Forward.


•    Consider putting a blog on your website. Write about industry trends about your non-profit. Make yourself an expert so the public and reporters view “you, the organization” as an expert.

Viral Sites

•    Consider posting links of stories reporters write or blog posts from your own website on viral sites. Consider sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Facebook Share, Buzz, Fark, Del.icio.us, YouTube, as well as local sites like WindyCitizen and GapersBlock that repost and can aggregate, or national ones like Gawker and Jezebel.


•    Create a page. It’s free. Post photos, updates, get fans, link to your website and to videos. Just make sure to monitor it. It’s an easy way to go viral and get your name out. Reporters frequently use Facebook pages for reliable sources, so it is a quick way to access people who are interested and/or knowledgeable about your non-profit, especially if reporters need sources.


Karen here. Let me just add this: Getting your news covered is about relationship building and communicating with journalists as quickly and succinctly as possible. Doing your homework will help on both counts. To help with that, consider subscribing to Community Media Workshop's (as of 2015, called Public Narrative) media guide, Getting On Air, Online and Into Print.  It offers information on Chicago-area journalists and then some. Getting both the digial and printed version is a good investment. If you can't afford to buy the guide, call your library to see if they carry it. If they don't, ask them to get it. You'll be doing yourself and your neighbors a favor. 

Also, when you call a journalists, whether they are an editor, a freelancer or staffer, after you identify yourself, ask them "is now a good time to talk?". Sometimes they are on deadline and can't talk and this acknowledges that you understand their working conditions and saves them from having to explain to you that they are busy at that moment.

Red Cross offers some interesting testimonials from broadcaster who've worked with them. Consider what is being said about them and consider whether journalists you're developing relationships with could say the same thing about you and your organization.  The Red Cross mentions "partnering". When you have a story to tell, finding the right partner and holding up your end will matter. 

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Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based freelance journalist and a former St. Petersburg Times and Dallas Morning News staff writer. Her work has been published by 25+ outlets including: CNN.com, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, American Way and Life & Style. She is currently working for Time magazine and is a paid blogger for Trueslant.com . She practices what she preaches; she's on Facebook and Twitter. View her portfolio at www.mediabistro.com/dawnreiss. She can be reached at dreiss100@gmail.com or 312-590-1921.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Donate Back-to-School Gear and be on TV August 25

If you or your company would like to donate back-to-school items to Chicago-area kids going back to class, NBC-5's Katherine Janicek wants to hear about it. You can donate live on TV at NBC's Studio 5 Plaza in Chicago next week, August 25 from 5-7 a.m., and get a mention (depending on how large the donation is.)

Contact Kathryn Janicek, Daypart Manager, NBC 5 News Today at Kathryn.Janicek@nbcuni.com or 312-836-5737 to follow up.

This just in from Kathryn Janicek...

Here are examples of school supplies I am told the children need:
  • Backpacks
  • Solar powered alarm clocks
  • Ballpoint pens
  • #2 pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Spiraled notebooks
  • Folders
  • Filler paper
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Erasers
  • Supply cases/boxes
  • Protractors
  • Rulers
  • Flash drives
  • Weekly planners
Please let me know if you'd like to donate live on next Wednesday's show -- and I'll make sure to carve out time for your company.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Want to be on the radio with WGN's Rick Kogan?

Updated September 2010                                                                                                                          

Journalist Leah Pietrusiak made the top bid for being on the radio with Rick Kogan. She sat in with him as he had on other guests and she did a great job.  I asked her what inspired her to bid and what she'd want to talk about with Rick. Here's her reply:

When I was in journalism school and people would ask me what I wanted to write about, I would always say, "I just want to write about people." And when I first read Rick's "Sidewalks" column in the Trib, I was like, Ah! I want to meet him. I always thought about asking him out to lunch, but never went through with it.

I've thought about contacting him on and off over the years, for inspiration. I've been working on a book of short stories centered around my dad's parents and their house in Humboldt Park--my grampa, who passed away a year ago, lived in the same house in for over 80 years. It's the same three-flat I live in now, on the second floor apartment above my gramma. It's the house where my dad grew up and my uncles grew up, and their cousins too, on the floors above.

The book will basically be Chicago history told through my family's stories. My uncle once grabbed my dad's collar (my dad left the priesthood to marry my mom) to go out and see if he could help in any way during the Puerto Rican riots of the 60s and 70s. My grampa delivered bread by horse through the streets of Chicago. And my grandparents never moved out of Humboldt Park as the neighborhood changed; when it started becoming Puerto Rican, they stayed at the church they'd worshiped at for so long, welcomed their new neighbors, and learned to sing some of the songs in Spanish.

As I'm thinking about it, that's something I might like to talk about--and just about storytelling, and how Rick collects information. It'll motivate me to work more on the stories, in preparation for the show, and finally push through and get the book done. Rick Kogan and deadlines--two great motivators!

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For the benefit of the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago and its members in its AWJ-TV continuing education program, Tribune columnist and WGN Radio host Rick Kogan is allowing the association to auction the chance to be on his radio show.

The winner of this online/silent auction and three friends can join Rick in studio during his “The Sunday Papers” program, 6:30-9 a.m. Sundays, and get the chance to be on the air for a segment of the show. In addition, you’ll receive autographed copies of Rick “A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream,” his history of the Billy Goat, and “Sidewalks,” a collection of his Tribune columns, embellished by the photography of Kafein denizen Charles Osgood. Rick might also pop for coffee and donuts 'cause that's the kind of guy he is.

Bidding just started this morning.

Here's how it works:

Anyone within the sound of my voice--journalists and the public alike--is encouraged to bid on being on the radio with Rick. Bidding starts at $50. Bidders can up their bids in $5 increments. Bids should be sent to awjraffle@gmail.com.

Fine print: If there is more than one bid of $50, the first email received will hold that bid, a practice that will continue as the bids increase.  For example, if two bids come in for $100, the first one to arrive will hold the $100 spot until a higher bid is made.

Announcements of the amount and name of the high bidder will be emailed frequently to all bidders, but certainly as least once daily, early in the morning.

Bidders should include a name, address and telephone number on the bid email. The address and telephone number will not be shared, but your name will be included when the updated bid announcements are emailed.

Online bidding closes at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28, the day before AWJ-Chicago annual summer picnic, where members can have one last chance to be the highest bidder. The winner will be announced the evening of July 29.

The Association for Women Journalists-Chicago has been supporting women in journalism and promoting fair and accurate treatment of women by the media since 1993. Its members include some of the most talented and influential journalists working in print, broadcast, online and academia on the planet.

If you have any questions, contact the multi-talented Terri Colby at terricolby@gmail.com.
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I'm in my third year as president of the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago. I started its listserv 10 years ago.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Scenes from Evanston's Fourth of July Parade

I'd not been actually in a parade since dressing as a clown for a homecoming parade during my Niles North days. On the other hand, as a photojournalist I've walk with many a Fourth of July parade sometimes covering four in one day...and have gone with Joel to many he was covering. 

This year I chose to focus more on what was going on on the curb than in the street and had a good time just getting pictures of some neighbors.

Looking forward to your comments. If you know these folks and are up for sharing their names with me, I'd be appreciative.


The Vernon-Wallace clan (left to right): Tia Vernon Wallace, Mark Wallace, Michael Vernon, Robin Wallace surely being harassed by both her uncle Michael and her sister Robin Wallace.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Share what you've learned so far now

This just in from Jennifer Fernicola Ronay...

In my ongoing search for work that is fulfilling and meaningful, I am participating in a project with SoFar Publishing where we will be interviewing people who are dealing with a terminal illness.  The final product will be a book that aims to answer the question "What have you learned so far?"

As it states on the website, "the project not only offers participants a chance to reflect on their lives, but also an opportunity to leave a legacy that touches friends, family and perhaps even the entire world."

If you know anyone who might want to share their story, please let me know. I can be contacted at jen.fernicola@gmail.com.

Jennifer is a lawyer and CPA turned writer/reporter/blogger. She's experimenting with a year of thank you's. She's on Twitter at @fernronay.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Entertaining journalists perform to aid colleagues on July 1

Update: This just in from Steve Franklin - We'll start with a jazz group anchored by Curtis Black and John Atkins--check out Curtis' video on YouTube--then blues by Mike Hirsley and his son Quentin, then Lou Carlozo on guitar on Jim Quinn on drums, and finally Mary Schmich, on piano, and Eric Zorn on guitar leading us in a not-for-Xmas singalong and if anyone wants to get up and tell a story or make a statement about what we are doing, they are more than welcome.

Journalists especially have taken hard hits during these bizarre economic times. Like other professionals, their careers and economic well-being have been threatened during this recession. News outlets shifting revenue streams and changing business models have exacerbated the situation. I don't know one news outlet in Chicago that hasn't had layoffs. (If you know any, let me know.) The mass layoff done in one single day at the Tribune last year I call the April 09 Purge. The Tribune eliminated some excellent journalist, many of them friends of mine.

With this in mind, through the Chicago Headline Club, Tribune alumni Flynn McRoberts and Steve Franklin and other journalists are putting on a show for money, money to be used to help journos get new gear, additional training and other support.  The public is invited.

Piano player and Trib columnist Mary Schmich, horn blower and journalist Curtis Black and Tribune alum John Adkins are scheduled to perform. Headline Club president Sue Stevens reports that booking a folk group is in the works. I might sign myself up to tell a joke, one joke, if they let me. We'll see.

"We don't think we'll raise enough to allow us to offer large amounts to our colleagues, but we hope that this gesture will remind our colleagues that we don't forget those of us who have run into bad luck and that it will help to work together...," says Steve Franklin, now with Community Media Workshop (one of my former employers).

When: July 1, 8 p.m.

Where: Rogers Park's Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago

Why: Fun and fundraising

How much: $10 (or more, if you can afford it) donation at the door. $5 for students

Donations are tax deductible

For more information on how volunteer at the show, how to donate and who else might be performing, contact Steve Franklin at steve@newstips.org or stevebey@live.com.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cormerstones for Cooperation

In 1993 I helped establish a charitable organization of photographers, journalists and other community members called PICTURE THIS Projects. It is still kicking, still encouraging creative expression and self-esteem and helping bridge the gap between people of different backgrounds through a variety of photography projects. I'll share stories soon about a big project we did 10 years ago in Evanston.

During our first year, some of our foremothers crafted these guidelines. They serve as our "rules". It helps set expectations of conduct within the group. It describes what is commonly thought of as appropriate ways of working together productively. Both the kids and coaches involved in cerrtain project are asked to sign the pledge.

I'm sharing here as food for thought and in case others might find them useful.

A Team Member's "Pledge to my Peers"

We are colleagues with a common vision and mission. I will trust you and depend on you to help me in meeting that vision and mission. I pledge to meet my commitment to you as a member of the PICTURE THIS team and expect that you will meet your commitment to me.

I commit myself to practicing these principles:
  • maintaining and enhancing self-esteem
  • listening and responding with empathy
  • asking for help in solving problems
I accept my individual and/or collective responsibility to solve problems. It's not important
to fix the blame.

I will seek opportunities to compliment you for the contributions you have made.

I will ask you for feedback about my behavior and respond openly to your request for

I will talk directly to you about any problems I have with you, instead of complaining to
others about you.

I accept that all decisions are not perfect and if I disagree I will do so openly and at the same
time present possible alternatives. However, once a decision is made, I will strive to make it
work. If I find a decision is not workable, I will work through the appropriate decision-making
channels to have such decisions reconsidered, modified and rescinded.

I will hold other members of the team accountable for fulfilling the above agreements,
remembering first my commitment to you and the other team members.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Social Media for Work and Play May 27

Where there's no such thing as a dumb question.

Beginners and experienced social media users are invited to this discussion that will help demystify social media and offer ideas for using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online tools most productively. You can expect to learn something useful whether you are using social media for personal reasons or business purposes, or aim to.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 27

Where: Waukegan Public Library's Bradbury Room
128 N. County Street
Waukegan, IL 60085

Cost: Free

I will offer a quick overview before leading a panel discussion and Q and A with:
- Jo-An Takamoto Sabonjian, operative at Little Fort Media and the Office of Susan Garrett
- Bill Oakes, former online director for ChicagoMag.com
- David Motley, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the City of Waukegan
- and possibly one other.

RSVP at on Facebook, on Waukegan Public Library's website or at 847-623-2041, ext. 234.

Consider posing the questions you already have on the Facebook event page.

Not widely known is that I tweet about Waukegan and other interesting things at @WaukeganLive.