Ordinary and Miraculous

Karen Kring here: Besides a media strategist, I am a photojournalist. I appreciate rare scenes, hunting them down, capturing them. However, as an artist I also appreciate seemingly average scenes. This scene is seemingly average. At least that is my wish, that worldwide cousins and little ones are cuddling with those who love and respect them. Given the context of this picture, this is not an ordinary scene. This is a picture of a miracle.


Four-month old Dakota Harrison and her cousin Dwyane Wade share a cuddle during a break in the action at Dylan’s Candy Bar on Saturday afternoon, December 17, 2016. Wade, with his foundation, Wade’s World Foundation, and Dylan’s Candy Bar on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, hosted a holiday party for three Chicago families who have been affected by gun violence, as Wade’s had been. His cousin, Nykea Aldridge, Dakota’s mother, was killed on Chicago’s South Side while pushing Dakota in a stroller on her way to register her kids for school in late August 2016.

This is an outtake from images I made while on assignment for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Journalist Anne Johnsos on her family, new book and “mommy juice”

I’m a print journalist, a photographer, editor and designer, now getting into podcasting and radio. I have so many friends and colleagues who are veterans in radio and brilliant at what they do. Anne Johnson is one of those. She was one of the first to encourage me as I ventured into a new medium, which I’m forever grateful to her for.

A former TV anchor, former Northwestern professor, former WGN radio producer, Anne has ventured into print.

AnneJohnsos400 POTTY-MOUTHED._by_AnneJohnsos

Anne’s recently published book, POTTY-MOUTHED: Big Thoughts from Little Brains, shares conversations she and her husband have had with their daughters starting when their youngest was about 2 years old.

Constantly curious, I lobbed these questions to Anne and she sent them back with answers.

K: What were your girls’ reactions when they first learned you were documenting what they’d been saying?

A: They had no idea until I started writing the book. For years I typed their words and wonders onto my iPhone, stowing them away for later. Occasionally I posted the most humorous bits to Facebook, but the kids had no idea what Facebook was. It was only after I drafted the manuscript that we all sat down and read through the hundreds of moments. The girls laughed with glee when they realized they were a) funny and b) just a little bit famous.

K: What was it like getting permission from your family to publish this book?

A: When we went through the manuscript, the girls let me know what was OK and what was not. Poop and toots are funny up to a certain age (in my case 100!), but as kids round the corner toward “tweendom,” privacy becomes more important. My oldest also was quick to point out the moments in which my written thoughts were slightly unkind. She told me not to include them because they made me look, well, unkind. And while we all have our “judgy” moments, it’s best not to highlight them. (Note: The conversation we cut had to do with my daughter’s attempt to learn the violin. Anyone who has tried to play the violin knows it’s a slow start. I merely observed that in one of my posts.)

K: How did you pick which of their remarks made it into the book?

A: We chose the ones we considered to be funny, poignant and relevant. Some of my favorite conversations centered on pop culture and were too time-sensitive to last. Think Bieber, Blurred Lines and Daft Punk. Need I say more?

K: Social media has played a part in the way you created this book. Do tell.

A: Without social media there would be no book. The reaction I got to the early posts inspired me to keep recording the girls’ conversations. I loved getting positive feedback from friends and fellow parents. It was a former journalism student of mine who first suggested the book, and the idea gained momentum from there. When I took the plunge to write, I asked my Facebook hive for possible illustrators and reconnected with a friend from college. The idea was to have just a smattering of drawings, but his work was so good, POTTY-MOUTHED became a comic book.

K: Tell me more about “mommy juice”. Must it be Italian or can it be from any region?

A: “Mommy juice” is famously cheap and of low quality. After my husband and I realized our exciting social lives were firmly in the past, we resorted to bulk buying wine from Trader Joe’s. Turns out Two Buck Chuck isn’t so bad.

K: You protect your girls’ privacy, but they have been going to some of your book events. How are they dealing with the attention they are getting?

A: They seem to enjoy it, but I’m aware of the potential pitfalls. Right now they really want to read some of their own funny moments. That might change as they get older. The important thing is: They approved the content, so they aren’t surprised. Last night at a reading, some of the toot jokes made my older daughter “facepalm,” but she laughed because she knows the actions of a 4-year-old do not draw a straight line to the 11-year-old of today. Note: I also regularly add money to the therapy jar.

K: Are you still documenting the nuttier conversations you have with your girls? Can we expect a sequel?

A: A sequel is ready and waiting if this book is successful. I have hundreds more moments to share, and many of them are funnier and smarter than the current book because the girls are older. I still write down and share some current conversations, but less frequently. Now that the girls know what I’m doing, they occasionally ask me to write down what they say, and that’s too meta for me. Also: No matter how funny puberty might be, it’s just too personal. I value my daughters’ trust too much to cross that line.





Joe Ricketts shutters DNAinfo and Gothamist

November 2, 2017: A day that will be infamous in U.S. journalism history.

Below is what DNAinfo, staff, readers and advertisers were greeted by when they went to DNAinfo’s New York City and Chicago website that Thursday.

More about this from…

Crain’s Chicago Business’ Lynne Marek: DNAinfo Chicago shuts down

NPR: Billionaire Owner Shuts Down DNAinfo, Gothamist Sites A Week After Workers UnionizeAndreaVWatson

Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick: DNAinfo, Gothamist news sites shut down by billionaire Joe Ricketts after union vote

Chicago Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout: Joe Ricketts closes DNAinfo after blasting ‘corrosive’ union dynamic

New York Times: DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize

New York Times: A Billionaire Destroyed His Newsrooms Out of Spite

Joe Rickett’s Blog: Why I’m Against Unions At Business I Create

Andrea V. Watson: My Company Abruptly Shutdown; Now What?

Newsweek: Gothamist and DNAinfo Are the Latest Victims of the Billionaire War on Journalism

WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: DNAinfo and the Challenge of Hyperlocal News

Jocelyn Geboy: How The Dismantling Of DNA Info And Chicagoist Hurt Us All


Why Should We Care?: U.S. Immigration/ Refugee Debate

Fear. Immigrants and refugees fear leaving one homeland and not being accepted by the next. Welcoming nations’ governments fear not being able to find the resources to support an up-tick in population and need. U.S. taxpayers fear further taxation to support newcomers, as well as the cultural and societal adjustments an up-tick can cause. These are some of the issues around immigration and refugee policy to be discussed at Northwestern University next week.

The public — you, residents, elected officials, immigrants, refugees, educators, students, journalists, activists and others throughout the Chicago area — is invited to this panel discussion one of the most critical issues of our time:
The U.S. Immigration/Refugee Debate.

Tuesday, October 24, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Northwestern University Law School’s Lincoln Hall
357 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL

> Speakers and panelists <

Jabbar Bennett
Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Northwestern University

Alfonso Gutierrez
News Anchor, Telemundo Chicago/WSNS

Maudlyne Ihejirika
Reporter/Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times
Author, “Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul
Founder/Executive Director, Syrian Community Network

Jaylani Hussein
Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations–Minnesota

Jack Doppelt
Hamad gin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Journalism, Northwestern University
Medill School of Journalism; Publisher, “Immigrant Connect”.


Up for discussion:  Two travel ban executive orders — which seek to prohibit refugees and immigration from several Muslim majority countries and to close the United States refugee program — worked their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court this month. One lawsuit was dismissed by the highest court, mooted by the third and newest travel ban, only to see that third version blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii this week in response to legal challenges.

On the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals front, the White House rescinds DACA, setting a March deadline to potentially strip legal protections from 800,000 young ‘Dreamers’ brought to the U.S. as children. That DACA action has set the stage for a potential tradeoff with Congress that could include a border wall with Mexico.

Meanwhile, the RAISE Act — a bill backed by the White House and introduced in Congress in July — aims to cut legal permanent immigration to the U.S. by half over the next decade.

With ideological, political and racial divisions tearing at the fabric of the U.S., Americans are calling for a deeper understanding of our differences in culture and values, and open and honest discourse as to how we hold on to those values through rational government policy.

Consider joining in this conversation about one of the most
important issues our country is facing.

Event sponsors:

> Northwestern University’s Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion
> Medill School of Journalism
> National Association of Black Journalists
> Public Narrative
> Wyn-Win Communications
> The Kring Group
> M Lounge

Media sponsors:

> NBC 5 Chicago
> Telemundo Chicago


Concerned about parking? Take the el, a bus or use Spothero for discounted parking.


Second City’s Kelly Leonard at TEDx

In early October 2017, Chicago’s own Kelly Leonard was one of the dreamers, thinkers and doers presenting at University of Colorado/Colorado Spring’s TEDx. He talked about “strategic discomfort”, the magic of improv and a new partnership between Second City and Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The TEDx’s theme was CURIOSITY, a topic near and dear to Karen Kring’s heart.

And in case you didn’t know, Kelly hosts a podcast, Getting To Yes, And.
He also co-authored a book, call, yes, that’s right, Yes, And.

Chicago Public Radio’s Goli Sheikholeslami on the impact of smart, real journalism


Goli Sheikholeslami, CEO of Chicago Public Radio, explained why strong, non-partisan journalism matters to the health and wealth of our communities, our country and every citizen during the City Club of Chicago lunch program on May 25, 2017.

Shannon Heffernan and her story Excruciating Choice: Trading Parental Custody for Mental Health Care was mentioned as an example of a story that helped move the State of Illinois to act to stop psychiatric lockouts and helped legislators access data about lockout previous unattainable. (Heffernan’s work garnered a 2017 Lisagor Award.)

Sheikholeslami also mentioned an investigation that revealed that more than 300 young people were kept at Cook County Juvenile Detention Center for for as long as a week after release orders were signed. One young man waited 190 days for DCFS to pick in up. Due to that report, a monitoring system is in place and fewer young people are stuck in jail needlessly.

She also shared the audio from a story about why people pick up guns.

Distrust of media, threats to our fragile media landscape, drastic newsroom staffs reductions and their affects our country were discussed, as well as the opportunities and threats that lies ahead for hers and other media outlets.

Hear her whole 30+ min. address here.

Crain’s Lynn Marek talked to Goli in 2015.

Cheryl Harvey Gorey joins The Kring Group and Team BizPics


We’re pleased to announce that Cheryl Harvey Gorey has joined our team. She’ll be the on-site stylist for our May 21 BizPics shoot.

Hope you can come and take advantage of one of the few Sundays she’s available to do make-up and hair for BizPics.

Cheryl is a much sought after make-up artist. Known for her outstanding work for high-profile clients ranging from TV, film and sports celebrities to CEOs, she can now include BizPics participants to her roster of notables.

She loves her job, enjoys make a positive impact on everyone she encounters on the job she’s been doing for close to 30 years.


Cheryl is a common sight on Blackhawks’ ice.


Ode to Chicago’s Very Own Media Guide

We happened upon this ditty Karen Kring composed back in 2005.

“I spent a lot of time working on and writing about the media guide, so eventually rhymes presented themselves,” Karen says.

Back in the day Karen was the new media manager for the Community Media Workshop, now called Public Narrative. She didn’t just do web work. One of her responsibilities included supervising the updating and production of the media guide–now called Chicago Media Guide–and promoting it.  It remains a reliable resource for connecting with journalists and news outlets and communicating strategically.

“It wasn’t unusual for people to contact us asking if we knew of such a comprehensive media guide in their town,” Karen says. “I’m still not aware of any.”


Subscriptions to the Chicago Media Guide are available for a year or a day.

Have you some news stories to pitch?

Try Marin, Mitchell,
White, or Helfrich

Porterfield, Grumman,
Washington, Sneed
Workshop’s got the data you need.

Ahern, Corley,
Anderson, Dumont
Contact all the reporters you want

Workin’ for outlets near and far
Times, Post,
Journal, Star

With data that’s
The CD’s price is quite affordable.

Just 99 bucks, we’ve got a book.
Order form’s below, take a look.

Order immediately, now’s the time.
According to Feder, a real gold mine.

This piece certainly reflects how things have changed on Chicago journalism landscape has changed, as well as the guide, which is all online now.

Updated from article first posted July 2009.


Having a good portrait made makes good business sense

Ramon DeLeon. Photo by Karen Kring.

Ramon DeLeon by Karen Kring


Karen has blogged about it before: Having a good portrait made of yourself is important no matter what profession you are in or ambitions you have.

First: You never know when the media might call wanting feature you in an article. Check out Fast Company’s piece on Ramon DeLeon (then with Domino’s) and the Chicago Reader’s piece by Anne Ford on Chicago’s Leslie Goddard.

You’re doing yourself a favor, and the media outlet, by having a photo on hand. Because deadlines and budgets are tight these days, editors and producers don’t always have the resources to send a photographer to get original pictures made for their stories. If by chance they are able to assign a photographer or hire a freelancer, there’s no guarantee the photo will communicate that you want it to.

Broadcasters find portraits useful too. Radio and TV stations have websites that need visuals to accompany their content.

Second: To help maintain or enhance your professional reputation, having a strong, smart online presence is important. If you are using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites, you’re expected to include a picture of yourself.  You’ll want to use one that communicates the qualities you want the public to know about you. A good portrait of you can be worth more than one thousand words, because few people have time to read a thousand words about you, but a picture can send a message in split second.

Third: While a good portrait is worth a more than a thousand words, what is it worth in dollars?  Priceless? Maybe. Because getting a portrait that works can be pricey, The Kring Group had developed BizPics: Headshots for Business. Professionals and job seekers are able to get good portraits made at a good price during portrait shoots scheduled periodically. New shoot dates are posted to Facebook and Twitter.

Examples from previous BizPics shoots are on Facebook. The shoots include both studio and environmental portraits, sometimes the services of a stylist…and some fun.