New era for watchdog publication that covers Chicago Public Schools


March 1, 2016

For more information, contact:

Kristine Scott, or 312‐673‐3829

New era for watchdog publication that covers Chicago Public Schools

Lorraine Forte, an award‐winning journalist and former editor of Catalyst Chicago, is returning to the education watchdog publication as editor and interim publisher. She succeeds founder Linda Lenz, who is retiring March 31st after leading the ground‐breaking news organization for 25 years.

Forte, who begins her duties in April, was editor of Catalyst for nine years. As interim publisher, she will focus on charting a new and broader direction for education coverage as education becomes a major part of the portfolio of The Chicago Reporter, Catalyst’s sister publication, which investigates race, poverty and income inequality.

Over the next several months, Forte will work closely with Susan Smith Richardson, editor and publisher of the Reporter, to develop a transition plan.

“Education is a significant factor in providing equal opportunity and equality for people of color, and intersects with other issues, such as criminal justice and politics, that the Reporter now covers,” said Forte. “I look forward to working with Susan.”

Since its launch in 1990 under Lenz, Catalyst has helped to drive the conversation around better schools in Chicago.

“It's great to be able to retire and see your life's work continue under such a talented and dedicated team of journalists,” Lenz said. “And this will be good for Chicago.”

Media coverage of CPS has increased, Forte and Smith Richardson said, and now it’s time to broaden the conversation to include the region and also higher education.

“Combining the resources and brainpower of two highly regarded Chicago media institutions is a win for both and is a step forward in ensuring our work has more impact,” said Smith Richardson.

The Chicago Reporter and Catalyst are both editorially independent publications of the Community Renewal Society, among Chicago’s oldest faith‐based social justice organizations.

The Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, executive director of Community Renewal Society, said that the move will allow for deeper reporting about racial inequality.

“Education is a civil rights issue,” said DeYoung. “Bringing coverage of this critical issue under the Reporter, an investigative news organization, will help mine the intersections between race, class and public education – and the increasingly fragile ladder of opportunity for students of color.”

As editor of Catalyst, Forte won two Peter Lisagor awards for opinion writing and guided reporting and won awards from a broad array of journalism organizations, including the Education Writers Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the National Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.

She also has worked as a news writer and fill‐in producer at WGN‐TV; as a journalism instructor at Columbia College; as a reporter covering courts and general assignments for the Chicago Sun‐Times; and as a reporter for the former Daily Southtown. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Ohio State University.

Community Renewal Society is a progressive, faith‐based organization that works to eliminate race and class barriers. Founded in 1882, Community Renewal worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Chicago fair housing campaign in 1966 and was instrumental in developing the West Side Organization and Casa Central. Today, CRS informs, organizes and trains communities and individuals to advocate for social and economic justice.


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