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About Me

A third-grader once asked me what I would have been if I couldn’t have been a journalist. It was the hardest question I'd every been asked. I had no answer. Luckily, I have been a journalist since high school, where I worked on the newspaper and was yearbook editor; in college, where I worked as a paid reporter for the independent Arizona Daily Wildcat, and ever since. I was a staff writer for the Brazosport (TX) Facts; a broadcast desk writer for the Associated Press Denver bureau; a city desk and City Hall reporter for The Denver Post; a copy editor and writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I have been a longtime freelancer, stringing for Time Magazine for five years and for People Magazine for nine years in Seattle, Denver and Chicago.  I have contributed to more than a dozen national magazines such as Parenting, Family Life, Child and USA Weekend. I wrote a column, Cul-de-sacs, for the Naperville Sun and the Daily Herald for a total of 12 years, then a column about historic buildings called Building Memories for another four. In 2008/2009 I wrote Downtown Naperville for Arcadia Publishing and George Clooney: A Biography for ABC/Clio. I have been the “Look to the Western Sky” columnist for West Suburban Living Magazine since 2013. In 2014, I was honored to be named to the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s Hall of Fame. My non-journalistic passion began in 2013 when I became a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and bubbled over the following year when I became a river docent. A third-generation native Chicagoan, I can’t imagine any place I'd rather be than cruising the Chicago River and showing it off to tourists and locals alike. Unless it's writing about it!  This Used To Be Chicago came out from Reedy Press in 2017. 

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Professional History

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Building Memories Columnist, Naperville Sun


Monthly column telling the stories behind Downtown Naperville buildings -- a sort of biography of each building

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Cul-de-sacs Columnist, The Daily Herald & The Naperville Sun


A popular weekly news/lifestyle column about one of "the country's best places"
to live, raise kids and retire.

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Freelance Writer


Contributed to magazines such as: 


Family Life

Sports Illustrated for Kids


USA Weekend

Ladies' Home Journal

and newspapers such as:

Chicago Tribune

The Los Angeles Times

The Seattle Times

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Stringer, TIME magazine


Covered the Pacific Northwest and Colorado for the iconic. newsmagazine

Stringer, People magazine


Interviewed and wrote about people both famous and not, in and around Washington State, Colorado and Illinois

Reporter, The Denver Post


I was a general assignment city desk reporter, the Denver City Hall reporter and the suburban education reporter -- the best job in the world

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 Joni Hirsch Blackman


I think of myself as the newspaper reporter I always wanted to be, and was for many years. I'm also a freelance writer, a newspaper/magazine columnist and an author of books for adults and children.

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Newswriter, The Associated Press


Worked as a vacation relief writer on the AP Denver bureau's broadcast desk

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Features reporter, The Brazosport Facts


Wrote about the people of Brazoria County, Texas for the daily newspaper

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Reporter, Arizona Daily Wildcat


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This Used To Be Chicago


Warning: with “This Used to Be Chicago” as your guide, you may never look at Chicago the same again. Every building has a past — author Joni Hirsch Blackman finds the stories behind more than 90 Chicago buildings that used to be something else: the liquor store that used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition; the yacht club that used to be a ferry boat; the countless condominiums that used to be cracker, shoe, postcard or piano factories and, perhaps the most incongruous, the circus school that used to be a church. Imagine what your favorite buildings will house in another 100 years — that’s this book backwards! Explore your own neighborhood with a new eye, find places you remember from your youth,  appreciate a new part of town you’ve considered only as it is now.

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Look to the Western Sky column


I have written the Look to the Western Sky column for West Suburban Living magazine since 2013. 

Any idea, Wicked fans, why I picked that column title?

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Cul-de-sacs, as Lorelei Gilmore once learned, should more correctly be Culs-de-sac. But things are not always the way we think they should be – the fact of which sparked many a Cul-de-sacs column.

After years of living next to cul-de-sacs, I moved onto my first cul-de-sac. From then – 1988 -- until 2009, I wrote about life on the cul-de-sac in various print forums. Check out some of those columns.

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"I don't need time. What I need is
a deadline."

Duke Ellington

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