Salon welcomes self-care healing to Chicago’s south side community

By Ebony JJ Curry
Medill Reports

Studies have shown that African Americans face more stressors than other groups, because of the adversities the community encounters. To counter that added stress, Haji Healing Salon promotes a life-enhancing way of living to one’s highest potential by being internally healthy.

Born and raised in South Shore, Aya-Nikole Cook is the owner of Haji Healing Salon, a quaint space on 79th which specializes in community yoga and acupuncture as methods of healing undeserved communities.

Photo at top: Aya-Nikole Cook chats with a client before an acupuncture treatment at Haji Healing Salon in the East Chatham neighborhood of Chicago. (Ebony JJ Curry/MEDILL)

FriGay the 13th: A horror podcast from an LGBTQ perspective

By Andy Graham
Medill Reports

Andrew Huff and Matty Zaradich were frightened by the political rhetoric they heard directed at the LGBTQ community. So, they decided to combat the horrific things they heard with some horror of their own.

Since early 2018, Huff and Zaradich have used their podcast, “FriGay the 13th,” to talk about their favorite horror films and their experiences as gay men living in Chicago.

Operating out of their modest set-up in Huff’s Ravenswood home, the duo record alongside Andrew’s husband Michael and their dog Sonoma. The podcasts offer listeners a tongue-in-cheek look at horrors both real and fictional.
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Warhammer keeps fantasy alive on tabletops

By Andrew Sweeney
Medill Reports

Still angry about the last season of Game of Thrones and looking for a new fantasy world to lose yourself in? You need not wait for the next big HBO or Amazon show. There is a community near you, ready to join you in battle.

Warhammer is a series of tabletop battle games owned by British company Games Workshop. Players meet in the real world with real miniatures they paint and assemble themselves.

The hobby’s longevity in the digital age is remarkable, but what is more unique is the community that exists around Warhammer, and its rare and varied appeal.

In this video, players talk all things Warhammer — and the “unbridled creativity” it offers them — at Warhammer Glenview.

Photo at top: The inspiration for Warhammer comes from all aspects of popular culture, like these marines from the sci-fi horror film Aliens. (Andrew Sweeney/MEDILL)

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Working to end the stigma: Athletes and mental health

By Kate Constable
Medill Reports

As sports fans, we often put athletes on pedestals, dehumanizing them in a sense. We think of them as strong, focused and mentally tough, which they are. But this mindset is also part of the reason that mental health issues are too often ignored in sports.

On this episode of Medill Newsmakers, we focus on the role of mental health in sports and how athletes are working to end the stigma surrounding it.

Photo at top: Will Heininger speaking at the NCAA headquarters (Will Heininger/Michigan Medicine)


Domestic violence in Chicago

By Valerie Shuang Chen
Medill Reports

Domestic Violence is five times more likely to affect women than the most prevalent communicable disease in Chicago. Last November, a high profile case refocused Chicago’s attention on this issue.

Photo at top: Help is only one call away. (Valerie Shuang Chen/MEDILL)

Chicago News Report

By Tim Hackett, Max Goodman, Karleigh Stone, Nicole Croteau, and Shannon Longworth
Medill Reports

In the inaugural episode of Chicago News Report, we cover the everything from beach safety to the legalization of marijuana.

We’ll be reporting on local news here in the city for the next 10 weeks.

Photo at top: Ohio Street Beach. (Nicole Croteau/MEDILL)

Bronzeville apparel shop honors the Negro Baseball League in a place where it started

By Ebony JJ Curry
Medill Reports

In 1992, Bruce Gage saw a young man wearing a Negro League Baseball cap at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. “I was like wow,” he said. “If they’re going to wear baseball caps, I’m going to introduce [more people] to the Negro League baseball caps.”

Since then, Gage and his partner Jimmy White have built their company Flyball into a full line of apparel — not just hats, but also shirts, neckties and sweaters. They feature five teams from the Negro Baseball Leagues… including the Chicago American Giants. “The cool thing about the Negro League a lot of people don’t know is that it started right here in Bronzeville,” he said.

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Chronic pain patients experiencing a side effect of new opioid guidelines

By Jessy Zhou
Medill Reports

Chronic pain patients say they are having their medications tapered down and face stricter evaluations when changing doctors since the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) changed its guidelines for opioid drugs.

According to the CDC, opioids were responsible for more than 60 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2017. A government crackdown began when opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. spiked in 2016.

In this video, Catherine Wolf Thesen and Debbie Fetzner-Nunez—who both suffer from chronic pain and have been taking prescription medication for years—say they are being made to suffer because of the actions of abusers.

Photo at top: Chronic pain patients rally at the Daley Center in Chicago on March 26, 2019. (Jessy Zhou/MEDILL)

Medill reporters celebrate #BourdainDay with video stories from Buenos Aires

A reporting trip to Argentina results in stories inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s television work

By Craig Duff
Medill Journalism Professor

Every year, graduate journalism students at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University pause their regular studies for a mid-winter trip. In a program called Medill Explores, students spent a week in February visiting sites and networking in U.S. cities and practiced global reporting and experiential learning in locations like Tokyo, Johannesburg, San Juan and Buenos Aires.

When planning the Buenos Aires trip for our video journalism cohort, I wanted to find a way to jolt students into a more creative storytelling mode, to challenge them to think outside of the conventional broadcast reporting they were studying in their foundational courses. As I researched options, I re-watched the Buenos Aires episode of the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown series on CNN. Bourdain’s death by his own hand last June was on the minds of many of us who were fans of his and the aesthetically rich series he hosted.

Miley Sun (L) and Valerie Chen record video in Buenos Aires for a Medill Explores class assignment. (Photo by Sally Ryan)

Parts Unknown found a way to discuss culture, politics and the reality on the ground by Bourdain breaking bread and chatting with real people at dinner tables around the globe. The writing had a unique voice; the production of the series was simply exquisite;  the cinematography often evoked an auteur’s vision (for the Buenos Aires episode, the look and feel was an homage to visionary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together,” most of which takes place in the Argentinian capital).

My co-instructor, photographer Sally Ryan, and I urged students to think cinematically as they reported, seeking the most interesting people who could help us see the issues confronting Porteños (as the people of Buenos Aires are called) in vivid and lively ways. Much like the producers at Zero Point Zero — the team behind every Bourdain series since his first, A Cook’s Tour, in the early 2000s — sought to do in each episode of Parts Unknown. (To see a video about our student’s efforts click the video player above.) Continue reading

Food offers a bridge between distant cultures in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown

By Valerie Shuang Chen, Shijia (Miley) Sun and Tianqi Gou
Medill Reports


Argentina is the furthest country in the world away from China, and the differences are immediately noticeable to a Chinese reporter. From vibrant street murals, to stifling heat, the city combines faded European architecture with Latin passion.

But we found home here in Chinatown.

Chinese immigrants first moved to this part of the city in the 1980s. It’s kind of hard to imagine how they first settled down, in a faraway country where meat is the only meal, dinner starts at nine, and everyone around you is speaking Spanish. But they found their way to tantalize the Argentine’s taste buds with supermarkets and restaurants.

In this video story, Tianqi Gou meets Karina Gao, who immigrated to Argentina at the age of nine. She runs her own blog called Palitos de Bambu, or bamboo shoots.  It features Argentinian and Chinese recipes.

Gao is known to many here for her appearances on a cooking reality show. Her background and expertise help her demonstrate and write about the cuisines of both cultures.

Tianqi also visits Todos Contentos, one of the oldest restaurants in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown. It opened in 1986 and restaurateur Yie Pi Sia is an institution in the neighborhood.

In the conversations, we see how food, carrying the flavor of our memories and the taste of home, is the best pill to cure homesickness and a great way to build culinary connections between divergent cultures.

Photo at top: Blogger, food writer and television personality Karina Gao shops at one of the oldest supermarkets in Chinatown in Buenos Aires on February 13, 2019 (Valerie Chen and Miley Sun/MEDILL)