Encouraged by my high school journalism teacher Mrs. Kelley, who is a wondrous woman herself, I set out to interview Chicago journalist
Carol Marin sometime in 2001 or 2002. I was beginning research for an
article about the changing landscape of the media, and Mrs.
Kelley suggested I try to interview Marin.
For those of you who don’t know her, Marin is an award-winning Chicago
journalist with decades of experience. She favors thoughtful
investigative pieces over fluffy news about celebrities and makeup
trends. In 1997, when WMAQ-TV management offered trash TV talk show host Jerry Springer a slot commenting on the 10 p.m. news, she left to create her own show on CBS. I interviewed Marin about her news show, which was lauded by critics but eventually canceled after a brief time.
She left a meeting early to speak to me, a geeky student journalist
whose opinions were not yet formed on several issues. I probably
breathed awkwardly into the phone as she spoke, too.
After maybe about 30 minutes of speaking, we said our goodbyes and
hung up. I wrote my article a few weeks later and sent her a copy in
the mail. A short while later, she sent me a handwritten thank you
letter encouraging me to continue with journalism and thanking me for
the article. I still keep this letter in a shoebox at home.
About a year after our initial phone conversation, I ran into Marin at an event at the Chicago History Museum. The giddy women around me were surrounding Marin, who was wearing a skirt and high heels, even though she is probably a solid 5’10” without them. Nudged by my encouraging mother, who was with me for the event, I quickly said hello and told Marin I had interviewed her a few months prior. She smiled and shook my hand. “It’s nice to meet you in person, Sheila,” she said.
Beyond these thoughtful gestures, I admire Marin because she began her
professional career when, in many ways, the journalism industry was
still a boys club. In the 1970s, it became more common for women to
have careers, but rarely were they in managerial positions and most
were expected to quit when they got married and pregnant. Marin could
have easily taken an easier route and stayed silent as the news got
less serious, but she continued asking the hard questions. Currently,
she contributes to Chicago Tonight and the Chicago Sun-Times. I always find her commentary and interviews thought-provoking and insightful.
Throughout the years, I have met many other amazing journalists, both male and female, who have been great mentors to me. But I give Marin credit for first showing me how to be ladylike and a serious journalist. I hope, like Marin, that I never forget to ask tough questions.
In the clip below, the wonderful Rick Kogan interviews Marin about her childhood.
She also has a sense of humor.