All posts by Medill News Service

Iowa caucus: ‘It’s getting hot in here’

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini


ANKENY, Iowa — Things are heating up as Iowans begin discussing their picks for the Democratic nominee.

The Bernie caucusgoer: Christian Pinneke, 20

The Bernie caucusgoer: Christian Pinneke, 20. (Enrica)
The Bernie caucusgoer: Christian Pinneke, 20. (Enrica)

Medill Reports: “Who are you caucusing for?”

“I’m for Bernie. I’m a pretty strong believer in what he’s trying to accomplish.”

MR: “How are you feeling?”

“It’s getting hot in here.”


Not sure if he was talking about the boiling temperatures in the room, or the heat of the political race.

The Hillary caucusgoers: Bill, 56, and Connie Catrenich.

Bill, 56, and Connie Catrenich caucused for Hillary Clinton. (Enrica Nicoli Aldini/Medill)
Bill, 56, and Connie Catrenich caucused for Hillary Clinton. (Enrica Nicoli Aldini/Medill)

Bill: “I’m caucusing for the first time. There are a lot of issues that are important to me now that I guess had never been as important, like the environment, medical care and social security, as we’re getting older.”

Connie: “I caucused for the first time eight years because it was a tight race, and I wanted to make sure they would choose the right candidate. It didn’t happen, but she’s back in the race now.”

MR: “Do you think she has chances this time?”

“Yes. I think the last time she just underestimated the power of young voters.”

The Precinct Leader for Hillary: Betsy Dittemore

The Precinct Leader for Hillary: Betsy Dittemore.
The Precinct Leader for Hillary: Betsy Dittemore.

MR: “How’s everything going tonight?”

“It’s phenomenal. The support for Hillary has been fantastic. We’re having way higher numbers than expected.”

MR: “Is this your first time volunteering for a caucus?”

“I was precinct captain in ’08, and it was pretty crazy, because it didn’t go well for Hillary.”

MR: “What’s changed for her this year?”

“She came into Iowa much earlier, with a wonderful organization in her campaign, and she’s been talking to the people.”

“So what are you going to do after this?”

“I suppose we’ll just go home and sleep very well.”

The cashier at the gas station on our way to Hillary’s victory party.

The cashier at the gas station on our way to Hillary's victory party. She didn't give us her name.
The cashier at the gas station on our way to Hillary’s victory party. She didn’t give us her name.

MR: “You guys not caucusing tonight?”

“Oh no, I like making money, not spending it on candidates who are not going to win.”

She didn’t give us her name.

The Precinct Captain for Bernie Sanders said she supports Bernie because when she studied abroad in London in 2011, she took a social policy class that converted her to democratic socialism. She did not want to give her name, or have her picture taken, because she’s “media shy.” Too bad.

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Medill Reports: The Audio Show, Episode 3

Medill Reports’ audio producers and reporters cover topics ranging from business to science, entertainment to public affairs, sports, technology and more.

In light of the ongoing protests around the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald, Medill reporters covered stories of activism. From environmental activism on Chicago’s Southside, to student protests led by Northwestern University Football players in 1980 and Chicago’s public high school students, Chicago is alive with activism.
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Medill Reports: The audio show, Episode 2

Medill Reports’ audio producers and reporters cover topics ranging from business to science, entertainment to public affairs, sports, technology and more.

This week, Medill’s reporters looked into apps for the healthcare industry, a group protesting the unfair treatment of Chicago’s homeless in the Uptown neighborhood, Northwestern University’s chances at a football bowl game, and a look into the Federal Reserve’s elusive plans to raise the Federal interest rate.

Health tech apps changing the way we visit doctors

By Amanda Koehn

A lot of us dread going to the doctor, not only because no one wants to be sick, but seeing a doctor today means navigating long waiting lists, expensive copays and fitting the visit into a busy schedule. Plus there is tons of misinformation on the internet that can take you from wondering about a scratch in your throat to being convinced you have walking pneumonia, all in a Google search. But now, there are thousands of apps that let you video conference with doctors, as well as chat messaging and sending pictures, that let you get diagnosed and drug prescriptions without leaving your home.

NU’s Football team eyes bowl games, big wins

By Shane Monaghan

Northwestern University’s football team’s played one of its best seasons in recent years, but isn’t without its challenges. Shane Monaghan talks to Medill’s college football reporter Jordan Ray about what this season means for the Wildcats, and Chicago.

Activists and homeless join to march on Ald. Cappleman’s office

By Kelan Lyons
Reporting by Ryan Connelly Holmes

Protesters marched in Uptown Monday night to vent frustration at Ald. James Cappleman and the Chicago police who ticketed individuals sleeping near the Wilson Avenue viaduct. Continue reading →

What the Fed’s rate increase means for the average American

Arionne Nettles
After waiting two years for the economy to strengthen, the U.S. Federal Reserve will likely raise the federal funds rate in December. So what does a rate increase actually mean for the average American?

The Federal Reserve — better known as the Fed — is the nation’s central bank. When banks need money, they go to the Fed. It helps control how much money is in the economy and keeps prices stable.

Trump loves China

By Jane Hao

We sent a team of Medill reporters to the Republican debate this week in Milwaukee, where Presidential hopeful Donald Trump lacerated China, and mistakenly said that China was a part of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Reporter Jane Hao was able to catch Trump as he was leaving the event, and asked him to clarify his comments.

Photo at top: The Medill Reports audio project looks for compelling stories from around Chicago.(Amanda Koehn, Arionne Nettles, Jane Hao/Medill)

Medill Reports: The audio show

Medill Reports’ audio producers and reporters cover topics ranging from business to science, entertainment to public affairs, sports, technology and more. This week, reporters covered the Chicago Public Schools’ debate on two charter schools, President Obama’s speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Twitter’s quarterly earnings and a rally to bring awareness to police brutality.

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Gun Violence in Chicago: A Major Concern for Visitors

By Nikita Mandhani, Satvika Khera and Yingxu Hao

As President Barack Obama called for stricter gun laws during the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) at McCormick Place Tuesday, tourists at the Chicago Cultural Center said they were well-aware of and worried about gun violence in Chicago.

Peggy Georne, a resident of Streator, Illinois, said she felt much safer in Chicago when she used to visit in the 1970s.

“We walked long stretches and it was safe,” said Georne, who often visits her grandson in the city. She said that she advises people against coming to Chicago because of the number of murders and shootings she hears about in the news.

Homicides in Chicago have actually decreased in those decades, from 796 in 1970 to 437 in 2010, according to the Chicago Police Annual Report. There was a slight decrease in the per capita murder rate in those years, since the population dropped from around 3.4 million in 1970 to 2.7 million in 2010.

Scott Jones, a Chicagoan who now lives in New York City, noted that even in New York, Chicago’s struggle with gun violence is “everywhere in the news.”

“The housing projects in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, ‘70’s and ‘80’s really destroyed communities” in Chicago, he said. Jones attributed the violence to income inequality and segregation in Chicago that has confined different immigrants and races to certain neighborhoods. But when asked whether he felt safer in New York, he said the level of safety depends on the specific location regardless of the city.

Chicago Police Department (CPD) statistics demonstrate that shooting incidents in Chicago increased by 12 percent to 2,084 in 2014 from 1,866 in 2013, despite the fact that Illinois has put into effect a law mandating stricter background checks on firearms purchase since Jan. 1, 2014.

The law mandates a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card from Illinois state police before one can purchase a gun. Getting a card includes a screening of state criminal and mental health records.

Ton Boer, 54, from Holland did his research before coming to the city. After watching the national news coverage on Chicago, he realized that “some parts of the city are dangerous.”

Boer stays with an American family as part of an Airbnb arrangement. Based on discussions with his host and his observations, he feels that on the outskirts of the city, “the population changes, there is poverty and probably more crime.”

Some visitors said they are disturbed by seeing the “No Guns” signs at the entrances of many buildings and restaurants.

“Every time I see the gun sign with a cross, it makes me feel strange,” said Charu Gupta, who is from India and lives in Berlin. Her family was so anxious about violence during her vacation to the U.S., that she plans to “only visit downtown and the Indian area.”

Despite beefed up gun laws in Illinois, more illegal guns are pulled off the streets in Chicago than in any other major city, according to a statement made by Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy during a City Council hearing on Oct. 6.

According to a 2014 Chicago Police Department report, 60 percent of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago are coming from states with weaker gun laws. The report states that “the largest out-of-state sources of Chicago’s illegal guns were Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, which supplied 19 percent, 6.7 percent, and 3.6 percent of these crime guns, respectively.”

Tango Chatani, a visitor from Japan, is staying with a friend in Chicago who got a gun in New Orleans, where he used to live, after being threatened with a gun after a road accident. Chatani finds the story disturbing.

“In Japan, ordinary people can’t get guns. America is so big, that’s why people feel uneasy and scared,” he said.

Tourists said they hope different policies or laws can help Chicago reduce gun violence.

“Maybe more policing will help,” said Annie Eby, an urban policy researcher from Kansas. She stressed that economic opportunities for residents are also important to avoiding violence.

“When people have something to lose, if they have a life to care about, a job, a business or something, they are not likely to engage in risky behaviors like gun violence,” she said.

Photo at top: Tourists in Chicago say gun violence is a concern that affects their vacation decisions. (Eighty Six Films/Creative Commons)