• Mari's Portfolio

    I'm a writer based in Chicago. Check out my work!

  • About Me

    I'm a freelance journalist and editor based in Chicago. I currently serve as associate editor at Belt Magazine and senior editor and workshop manager at the South Side Weekly.

     

    Here's some of the work I've done

    • I run a free journalism workshop series as South Side Weekly's workshop manager. Our goal is to make journalism education accessible to as many people as possible. I wrote more about our work here. 
    • As associate editor at Belt Magazine, I edit and fact-check reported pieces and essays, and I create internal documents to help improve Belt's editing process and newsletter content. 
    • In fall 2018, I was a reporting fellow at City Bureau, a nonprofit journalism lab promoting better community-centered journalism. I covered Metra and transit equity issues and wrote a feature on Metra's budget woes, soon to be published in the Chicago Reader. I previously worked for City Bureau in spring 2017 as the Public Newsroom coordinator at City Bureau. I helped schedule and promote workshops on media practices and ethical local journalism that are open to the public. I also documented the practices of planning the Public Newsroom. 
    • I spent a year as a reporting fellow at Injustice Watch, a 501(c)(3) online news organization that researches and exposes injustice in the criminal justice system. I wrote long-form investigative pieces and collaborated with other reporters on projects, and I also did occasional breaking news coverage.  In addition to reporting and writing, I helped with social media promotion and web design for my stories. 
    • From August 2016 to April 2017, I served as director of writer development at South Side Weekly, creating writing guides and feedback systems to help make the Weekly accessible to journalists of all experience levels. In the past, I've also served as the Weekly's education editor and as a contributing editor, pitching articles, working one-on-one with writers to edit stories, and writing my own articles. I'm currently a senior editor.    
    • In spring 2017 I was awarded honors for my BA history thesis investigating the role of liberal Jews in Hyde Park urban renewal. I did extensive research in online and physical archives and consulted various secondary sources to put together an in-depth sixty-page historical argument. 
  • Clips

    • Chicago is America's News Lab
      • I spent a month reporting this longform look at how Chicago's diverse media outlets are covering the city and handling the challenges of surviving in today's media landscape. I interviewed editors, publishers, and staffers from nine outlets, as well as other local media observers. 

    Chicago Reader

    • Warning Bells
      • I spent several months reporting on the budget crisis affecting Metra, Chicago's regional commuter rail, and analyzing whether Metra is successfully reaching out to people in the region to get support for its push for more state funds. I learned that while Metra's services are crucial for the region—and for reducing carbon emissions—Metra tends to take a more conservative approach and is disconnected from the transit-supporting urbanists who might otherwise champion the rail system's.
      • This story was produced during my fellowship with civic South Side journalism lab City Bureau.  
    • Hospital Withdrawal. February 2019. 
      • I wrote about how homeless people with opioid use disorder in Chicago often avoid going to the hospital for fear they might not have their withdrawal symptoms treated there. This article is about the consequences when hospitals don't treat withdrawal, and about what some doctors are doing to make it better. I partnered with local photographer Lloyd DeGrane on this project. My reporting work included on-the-ground interviews with homeless people dealing with opioid use disorder, trips out with local street medicine teams, interviews with doctors and other hospital employees, and additional research on addiction.
    • Untangling Truth. December 2017. 
      • I spent five months researching the case of Demond Weston, who has been in prison for a quarter century and who says that he was tortured into falsely confessing by subordinates of disgraced Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. I reviewed hundreds of court papers, interviewed attorneys and family members, and consulted local experts for background information on police torture. I plan to stay on this beat and continue looking into the remaining Burge-related torture claims winding their way through the courts. 
    • Failure to Record Cook County Eviction Court Hearings Leaves Tenants Vulnerable. April 2018.  
      • My coworker and I wrote about the lack of recording equipment in Cook County equipment court, which makes it extremely hard for tenants to appeal their cases. I interviewed a tenant who had been affected by this issue. We spoke to a variety of housing advocates and received updated information on the (mostly stalled) plans for implementing recording equipment from the chief judge's office and Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. 
    • Cook County Judicial Voters Reject Old Habits, Disfavor Poorly Rated Candidates. March 2018. 
      •  My coworker and I analyzed the results of this year's Cook County judicial primary and sought out reactions from people involved in the criminal justice system. We were the only Chicago news outlet to dive this deep into judicial election results.  
    • View the rest of my work for Injustice Watch here.   
    • Cracks in the Foundation (cover story, co-authored). May 2017.
      • My colleague and I investigated allegations that Chicago art titan Theaster Gates has mistreated employees at his nonprofit organization. We spoke to several former employees on and off the record and I interviewed Gates himself. We were the only journalists to report on these allegations, which had been broadcast on Twitter earlier in the year. 
    • Underserved and Under the Spotlight (cover story)November 2015. 
      • After Uber began an aggressive campaign to recruit riders and drivers on the South Side of Chicago, I looked into how well rideshare and taxi companies serve the South Side. I spoke to several Uber and taxi drivers, interpreted statistics from Uber, and did additional background research. 
    • What's in Store (cover story). May 2015. 
      • Over the course of several months, I spoke to organizations, business owners, and community members in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, as well as academics and corporate representatives, to get a sense of how the opening of a new Whole Foods store would affect the neighborhood. My article included information on Whole Foods' plans for local partnerships and residents' opinions on what it would be like to have the store.  
    • View the rest of my work for the South Side Weekly here
    • Through the Looking Glass. February 2019.
      • I reviewed cultural historian Amy Kaplan's monograph on the history of the U.S.-Israel alliance. 
    • American Uses and Misuses of the Holocaust. February 2019.
      • I wrote a response to Trump's State of the Union, contextualizing his comments about the Holocaust within the history of how American presidents have cited the Holocaust to distract from American mistakes. 
    • View the rest of my work for Jewish Currents here.   
    • Ann Arbor, Again
      • This personal essay delves into my experience growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and considers how the #MeToo movement has made me rethink my relationship with my hometown and my preoccupation with nostalgia. The essay places my own experiences in conversation with Kristen Roupenian's Cat Person and a critical essay in The Point Magazine. 
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