Media take four spots on Chicago magazine’s ‘50 Most Powerful Women’

Chicago magazine

A veteran City Hall reporter, an investigative news editor, and two local media executives are among The 50 Most Powerful Women in Chicago, according to rankings published in the May issue of Chicago magazine and posted online today. (Here is the link.)

Not surprisingly, the top spot on the list is held by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. But after that, the editors compiled a wide range of women with clout “from all over the city and from every field.”

Along with the power leaders in politics, government, business, labor, law, arts and culture were four women in media:

Fran Spielman

At No. 26: Fran Spielman, City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times: “Spielman has been covering Chicago politics since Richard M. Daley was in short pants. Maybe that’s why she’s so good at hounding politicos till they crack (like when she got Mayor Lightfoot to confirm that Eddie Johnson had been drinking before the police superintendent was found asleep in his vehicle) and notching legendary scoops (most recently, the news that Alderman Danny Solis was wearing an FBI wire).”

Jennifer Lyons

At No. 28: Jennifer Lyons, vice president of news for WGN America: “In January, Lyons, who’d been news director at WGN-9 since 2014, got a big promotion. As vice president of news for WGN’s national cable network, she now oversees News Nation, a three-hour nightly newscast featuring a beefed-up staff of journalists that will make its premiere this summer.”

Tracy Baim

At No. 32: Tracy Baim, publisher of the Chicago Reader: “As a cofounder of Windy City Times, the veteran journalist has long been revered as a leading voice and tireless organizer in the city’s LGBTQ community. But when she took over as publisher of the Reader in late 2018, Baim added another designation to her public profile: the face of independent media in the city.

Louise Kiernan

At No. 42: Louise Kiernan, editor in chief of ProPublica Illinois: “Anyone despairing over the diminished power of investigative journalism might want to pay attention to what Kiernan and her 12 staffers are doing at this three-year-old branch of the national nonprofit news bureau. To give one example: ProPublica’s collaboration with the Tribune last year led to the abolition of locked seclusion rooms in all Chicago public schools. Other journalists are looking to see where Kiernan decides to shine a light next.”

Lists like these are designed to start conversations (and provoke arguments), so it’s natural to debate why some worthy choices were omitted. But it’s hard to question the inclusion of Spielman, Lyons, Baim and Kiernan on Chicago magazine’s roster.

Besides, all four were cited here last year on my ranking of The 25 Most Powerful Women in Chicago Journalism.

Monday’s comment of the day: Dan Miller: The Tribune’s RedEye made its debut as the Sun-Times simultaneously launched Red Streak, a free entertainment/lifestyle daily covering what both publishers thought was a younger market of non-readers hungry for pertinent print content. Red Streak — named in honor of the final daily edition of the Chicago Daily News — ended publication in 2005. You could say the Tribune won this battle.