John Conroy

While John Conroy has written in the first-person point of view before, he hesitated to take that confessional approach in A Mugging on Lake Street, his story about getting assaulted by a black teenager and following the case through the justice system. “Do I want to put myself out there in a story that has to do with race?” Conroy asked himself. An acclaimed investigative reporter who has memorably written on police torture, Conroy ultimately decided to tell his story in the first person, producing a thoughtful exploration of injury, crime, race, and his lingering pains, physical and emotional. “Part of me wants to put it behind me,” he says, but he knows that “there will be times when I will probably rail at [the assailant] for what happened.”

Ruth Lopez

In writing about Stephanie Smith, the curator of a new exhibition of works by artists from the middle of the country, in “One Fine Detour” in Arena, RUTH LOPEZ connected with her subject’s research. “I was really intrigued by her road-tripping,” Lopez says. “I have a real wanderlust, especially for really exploring America.” She admits, though, that staying home and writing about art has its fringe benefits. “There’s no better way to spend my time than in a museum or looking at art in a gallery,” she says. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Art Newspaper.

Covering shopping news, sales, and openings of boutiques, BRIDGET MAIELLARO, the writer of Arena’s “Sales Check” column and’s weekly e-newsletter Sales Check, has a bird’s-eye view of the economy’s effect on independent businesses. “When I first took over the column eight months ago, there were more closings than openings,” she says. There’s another side to the economic coin for shopping journalism, though. “With the recession, a lot more shops are offering sales and events. That keeps me busy.” Maiellaro also contributed to this month’s fall fashion supplement and Eight Teen Dreams in the teens package.

Drugs, sex, and pregnancy loomed large in conversations between teenagers and CASSIE WALKER, the editor of this month’s articles about teens in the Chicago area. These topics were familiar to the teens, but they had rarely discussed them analytically. “They knew how to talk about them, but the uncharted territory was why—why do kids do what they do?” says Walker, a senior editor at Chicago. Another article in the set, Eight Teen Dreams, profiles outstanding Chicago-area teens, including a botanist, a dancer, and a filmmaker. “I think it’s cool to have a passion and find that early,” Walker says.

Ryan Robinson

RYAN ROBINSON photographed the exceptional teens, including a six-foot-seven basketball player. “He’s got a size 18 shoe, which is bigger than my entire body,” Robinson says. He was impressed with his subjects’ adultlike sense of purpose, but adolescence showed through here and there. With one subject, “His mother was there,” Robinson says. “I didn’t see their conversation, but he said, ‘Mom, wait in the car.’ She did, for, like, three hours.” The teens showed a hard-working, optimistic, unburdened attitude. “They all have that twinkle,” Robinson says.


Photography: (Conroy) Kathy Richland, (Lopez) Alex Garcia, (Robinson) courtesy of Ryan Robinson