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RayHanania

Here’s a man who’s truly Somebody

By Ray Hanania

Bill Healy Jr. is among a group of journalists who were named as finalists for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting, or podcasts.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

The prize went to a team of veteran NPR journalists for their podcast No Compromise, which “examined a group of American right-wing activists with extreme pro-gun views and a growing following on social media,” the Pulitzer Committee announced Friday.

Healy’s mother, Nancy, serves on the Orland Park Library Board. His father, Bill, is a member of the Orland Park Village Board.

Healy is a member of the staff of the Invisible Institute of Chicago, the Intercept and Topic Studios, which collaborated in producing a podcast called Somebody. They were all cited as being official finalists, which in and of itself is a major journalism achievement, considering thousands of entries are submitted and reviewed for the top prize.

Winning the Pulitzer is a big deal, but often it seems to go to the major news media that controls the mainstream news media industry with a “toss-away” attitude for the smaller papers, almost as if the major media wants to make itself look good by occasionally recognizing the smaller publications. They really don’t.

So, for the staffs of the Invisible Institute of Chicago, The Intercept and Topic Studios, making it that close is a big deal and a reflection on all of the non-traditional media organizations and their hardworking staffs.

The judges described Somebody as “a dogged and searing investigation of the murder of a young black man in Chicago and the institutional indifference surrounding it.”

The Invisible Institute wrote, “We’re honored to learn that @SomebodyPod, our co-production with @theintercept & @topicstudios, has been named a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize. Thank you @shapearl, for sharing your journey with @FlowersAlison @chicagoan @sarahegeis & the team over the past 4 years.”

Bill Healy Jr ’s Twitter handle is @chicagoan.

It’s a big deal for the group that also includes the Intercept, which was co-founded by brilliant investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. He detailed the corruption of the Iraq War in his books Blackwater and Dirty Wars. I read both books.

Healy is surrounded by talented people, but he has achieved much himself since his early days of journalism.

His biography describes him as a freelance journalist “based in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. He produces StoryCorps for WBEZ and teaches documentary radio at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Healy’s photography has been featured in books, magazines and newspapers. He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in sociology and has two master’s degrees from Northwestern.”

Those are no small achievements.

I met Healy when he was a young kid interested in entering journalism. I brought him on to write for The Villager Newspaper chain that I published back in the early 1990s after I left the Chicago Sun-Times.

Healy had a clear talent for writing and conveying stories that was unique for someone his young age. His talents quickly fueled his many achievements that range from winning the National Edward R. Murrow Award for his work at WBEZ and This American Life.

I have been honored to win four Lisagor Awards for column writing from the Chicago Headline Club/Society of Professional Journalists and the Sigma Delta Chi Award, but so has Healy. He has won four Lisagors and the Sigma Delta Chi Award, too. But I am twice his age, so his achievements are going to pile up, reflecting his inordinate writing talents and ability to see through the politics of life and recognize “the good story.”

The closest I ever got to a Pulitzer wasn’t so close, but the editors at the Chicago Sun-Times nominated my four-part series on the 1990 Palestinian Intifada for a Pulitzer.

I am so proud to see Bill Healy Jr., his podcast Somebody and all of his journalism colleagues doing so well. It’s a privilege for me to know him. It is a genuine honor that Healy has brought to Orland Park and the southwest suburbs. Well deserved.

Congratulations to a great journalist.

Check him out at BillHealyMedia.com.

Check out more of Ray Hanania’s work at Hanania.com.

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