Jim Edwards: Good journalists few and far between

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Good journalists few and far between
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday Jan. 18, 2013

Two names were in the news this week, Lance Armstrong and Jim Edwards. They were so far apart.

One of the characters I came to know well as a City Hall reporter was a guy named Jim Edwards. You may have none him better as “Jake Hartford” the rambunctious on air Radio host.

I met Jim back in the 1980s covering City Hall and Jane M. Byrne and while hosting the weekend spot at WLS AM Radio. Hartford had his own show that lasted longer than my own and he had a won’t-back-down style that made his conversations and topics so entertaining.

He loved politics as much as he loved chatting with listeners on his radio show, including most recently as a co-host with another longtime friend I admire, John Kass, the former Daily Calumet reporter who later rose to the top spot at the Chicago Tribune.

For years, I’d “Wake with Jake” as he would open up Saturday mornings on WLS AM radio, talking about whatever was in the news that week. WLS dropped Jim back in 2008 but he always managed to come back.

He was always fair, something you don’t often experience in dealing with journalists.

In typical Hartford humor, his WLS bio noted he led “semi-annual mountain climbing excursions to the peaks of Nevada” and that “While swimming thru a kelp bed, a koi snipped off part of his nose.”

Hartford describes “himself” as being “To the right of Attila the Hun with a sprinkling of Leon Trotsky” which doesn’t really describe him at all. He was a talented videographer, a great radio host and a good friend.

Jim’s Facebook Page (under Jake Hartford) is still up – it’s a fact of life that when people die, their Facebook pages remain online. Such was the case of another good friend and journalist, Carlos “Habibi” Hernandez Gomez, who died in 2010 and whose Facebook page was only recently taken down.

This week, Jim Edwards (Jake Hartford) died.

Lance Armstrong’s saga is far different and makes you wonder what is it about sports figures and athletes.

The whole point of being in sports is to have fun, and serve as a role model for other young people. Sure, it’s entertainment, but that’s not all.

So here we have another sports figure and role model finally admitting that he used drugs to achieve his many inspiring records as a cyclist.

Armstrong’s admission comes years after denying it as slander and libel. It makes you wonder how many more athletes are also liars, too. Why shouldn’t we ask that question when so few of them are willing to stand up and speak out against their former pals and sports colleagues.

Like the Chicago police, the sports industry has a code of silence where corruption gets more protection than the public.

After seeing so many athletes admit to using drugs, and worse, lying about it throughout their careers, I have to conclude that the entire sports industry is corrupt and needs to be cleaned up.

What does this have to do with Jake Hartford?

Well, I would bet anything that if Jake were around, he’d be talking about this sports scandal on his radio show with columnist John Kass. And I’d bet he’d be agreeing that the sports industry is filled with corrupt liars who need to come clean, if he’s not already up there in that big studio in the sky, preaching to, well, a whole new flock.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania