Legendary Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman takes tough break in stride

Fran Spielman

It takes more than a nasty fall and a fractured pelvis to slow down Chicago’s hardest-working City Hall reporter.

Fran Spielman, the Chicago Journalism Hall of Famer who’s been covering City Hall for the Sun-Times for more than 35 years, is on the mend from a recent injury that would have laid up most people for weeks or longer.

“I was picking up after my Golden Retriever named Theo [for Cubs general manager Theo Epstein] when she lunged at a jogger across the street and bounced me off the pavement,” Spielman, 66, told me from her Highland Park home Tuesday.

“I have a fractured pelvis that is incredibly painful, but will heal with time and physical therapy, I’m assured. It’ll take longer than this impatient and driven reporter wants it to. But, I’ve already pretty much graduated from a walker to a cane and haven’t taken a day off for injury yet. Can’t keep an intense City Hall reporter down, I guess.”

It doesn’t surprise her colleagues or competitors that Spielman continued to break news throughout her ordeal. Her legendary tenacity and dedication have made her the Sun-Times’s most reliable scoop machine for decades.

As columnist Neil Steinberg said on her 35th anniversary at the paper: “Fran Spielman is the hardest hard ass in the history of hard-assery, and it’s an honor to be her colleague. . . . I wish I were half as good at what I do as Fran Spielman is.”

Straight out of Northwestern University, Spielman spent 10 years on the air at WIND 560-AM before she joined the Sun-Times in 1985. Her coverage of City Hall has spanned seven mayors — from Michael Bilandic to Lori Lightfoot.

Earlier this year Chicago magazine named Spielman one of the 50 most powerful women in Chicago. She’s made my lists of the most powerful women in Chicago journalism since I began compiling them. In addition to her induction in the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Headline Club.

Despite her recent accident, Spielman keeps looking for a bright side.

“I’m fortunate, in a way, that this happened during the pandemic. But, how much more can one person take,” she said. “Like my son joked, ‘How’s 2020 going for you so far, Mom?’ Not good. Here’s hoping it gets better fast.”

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Dave Miller: Leila Rahimi is an all-star broadcaster. It’d be comical that NBC Sports Chicago thinks it’s in its best interests to fire her if it wasn’t so sad for her and her viewers. She added so much to the enjoyment of White Sox broadcasts. She was always knowledgable, professional, prepared and fun. And could she be any more likable? She did an amazing job handling and getting the best out of the different personalities that were paired with her on the pregame and postgame shows. She earned her wings dealing adeptly with grumpy Bill Melton and her chemistry with Ozzie Guillen was great. The White Sox are poised to be the dominant sports team in town for years and NBC Sports Chicago thought it was a good idea to get rid of such a talent? Ridiculous. Truth be told, Rahimi was always better than that network. Hopefully one of the news stations in town has the smarts to scoop her up quickly.