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Why Terkel Awards?

The Stud Terkel Community Media Awards annually cites journalists who go the extra mile to report news “from the people who made Chicago, news that’s bottom up rather than up, down” as Studs said himself at his last awards benefit appearance in 2007. Over 70 scribes, broadcasters and documentary makers have received the honor since 1994 with journalist luminaries like Carol Marin & Harry Porterfield, Mary Mitchell and Mark Brown, Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn, Alex Kotlowitz and Linda Lutton, amongst them.

The Terkel Media Awards began as a fundraising event for the nonprofit Community Media Workshop. A friend of Community Media Workshop co-founder Hank DeZutter, Studs agreed to lend his name to an honorific the Workshop hoped would augment its primary work to help nonprofit organizations get their stories out more effectively.

Thus Louis B. “Studs” Terkel, became the “patron saint” of Community Media Workshop, gracefully and graciously leading these tributes to a special kind of Chicago journalism — the kind that, in the words of Salim Muwakkil at the March 2009 event, “is more important now than ever before.” 

In highlighting professionals for excellence in covering and reflecting Chicago’s diverse communities, the Terkel Awards encourages reporters who take risks in covering social issues by offering new or unusual perspectives on topics of general concern, from housing to neighborhood safety and beyond. The awards reward a body of work rather than a single article or series, and go to journalists at any stage of their career.

Studs was most proud of the awards ability over the years to not only cite established veteran journalists, but to discover younger, not so famous scribes who have later gone on to excel in their craft.

- Thom Clark, president of Community Media Workshop

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