Formerly the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, Laura S. Washington is a multimedia journalist specializing in media-related issues, African-American affairs, local and national politics, race and racism, and social justice.
Her column has appeared in the Sun-Times since 2001. From May 2006 to December 2008 she wrote a column, “Droppin’ a Dime,” for In These Times. She is a frequent commentator on “News and Notes” on National Public Radio and a contributor to Chicago Public Radio’s “848.” Washington has been widely featured in reports and programs on politics and racial and urban issues in the national media, including Time and Newsweek magazines, The New York Times, NBC Nightly News and The Lehrer News Hour. She speaks regularly to local and national audiences.
Washington brings more than two decades of diverse experiences in print and broadcast journalism, urban affairs and social justice issues. From 1990 to 2001, Washington edited The Chicago Reporter, a nationally recognized investigative monthly specializing in racial issues and urban affairs. Newsweek named Washington one of the nation’s “100 People to Watch” in the 21st Century. The magazine said that “her style of investigative journalism has made (the Reporter) a powerful and award-winning voice.”
In 1985 Washington was appointed deputy press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. From 1987 to 1990 she was a producer for the investigative unit at CBS-2/Chicago. In 1990 Washington returned to The Chicago Reporter and served as its editor and publisher from 1994 through 2001. She has written for the Chicago Tribune, specializing in issues of race, poverty and urban affairs. She was appointed to the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Chair at DePaul in June 2003.
Washington earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she has also taught and lectured.
She has been honored with more than two dozen local and national awards for her work, including two Chicago Emmys, the Peter Lisagor Award, the Studs Terkel Award for Community Journalism and the Ohio State Award for broadcast journalism. She has also received the Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, and is a founding inductee to the Medill School of Journalism Hall of Achievement and the 2002 Northwestern University Alumnae Award. In 1999 The Chicago Community Trust awarded her a Community Service Fellowship, for “exemplary service, commitment and leadership in individuals from the nonprofit sector.”
She is a member of the Chicago and National associations of black journalists and serves on the board of The Field Museum. She also serves on the board of The Donors Forum of Chicago.