Best Chicago journalism of 2013 – shout out to Richard Deitsch

Chicago journalism is more than just fiction.
Chicago journalism is more than just fiction.

(Some of) the Best of Chicago Journalism, 2013

An open letter to Richard Deitsch

by Jack M Silverstein (@readjack)

January 6, 2014

To Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated,

Good afternoon!

Like everyone in Chicago, I spent much of Sunday gearing up for today’s windchillapalooza. This meant shoveling/salting the front stairs and sidewalk and testing/bolstering my arctic wardrobe.

I also spent time reveling in the 49ers-Packers game, drinking mimosas with my girlfriend and reading.

Namely, I finally checked out your best 100 pieces of journalism of 2013.

And hot damn, that’s a lot of good writing.

You selected several of my favorite stories of 2013, especially Wright Thompson’s eye-opening profile of Michael Jordan facing middle age.

I also loved seeing the double shout out to Indiana University senior Jessica Contrera of my college paper, the Indiana Daily Student, for her story about an IU freshmen’s death and her viral feature on the closing of Bloomington’s Waffle House.

Ernie Pyle represent!

You are a great lover of and supporter of journalism, and I – like many others – appreciate your journo boosting.

That said, as is the case with any list, even ones a reader respects & enjoys, yours felt incomplete.

I imagine many readers have their qualms. Mine, (other than my surprise to see Deadspin’s Manti Te’o story left off) is this:

Why no love for Chicago?

100 links, and not one from or about the Windy City. That was a surprise.

Your list focused on individual pieces. I understand that approach.

But the list is also supposed to honor the best in journalism, and not all great journalists get the opportunity to deliver a singular piece. Some contribute by producing valuable beat reporting day in, day out.

In 2013, Chicago had a few key stories/beats/trends; some are old standards, others were new. But they affected every Chicagoan: gun violence, public transportation woes, education battles, poverty, budget cuts and all things Rahm Emanuel.

Thus reporters covering any of those areas definitely deserve your attention.

This is by no means an attempt at a comprehensive list; I have left off many outstanding Chicago reporters and stories, and I hope that my fellow Chicagoans will pitch in with their favorite pieces of 2013.

Think of this more like a starter’s guide.

First of all, for my money, the #1 voice right now covering Chicago politics is Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader. No one combines ear-to-the-ground reporting with classic Chicago flair quite like Ben.

And I can’t mention Ben without acknowledging his frequent partner Mick Dumke. When he’s not working in tandem with Ben on stories like Chicago’s shady TIF budgets or the city’s disastrous parking meter deal, Mick is busy writing the sort of long reads that comprise much of your list, like this recent one on Chicago’s heroin trade.

But Ben & Mick are hardly the only game in town. And so Mr. Deitsch, if you are reading this, here are some names to keep an eye on in 2014:

As for individual pieces from or about Chicago, here are some of my favorites from 2013:

Lastly, the one Chicago piece that absolutely should have been on your list due to its place in history: the final piece of writing from Roger Ebert, America’s great film critic.

Titled “A Leave of Presence,” the post was Roger’s declaration for the next phase in his career.

It ran April 2, 2013.

He died two days later.

That’s all, Mr. Deitsch. Thank you for your time, for your support of journalism and for your wonderful list.

And keep an eye on Chicago in 2014! We might have a few stories worth remembering.


Jack Silverstein


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