About

“You can’t win the argument unless you win the audience first.”

RayformalportraitI am one of the most effective writers and media messaging strategists in the country. And I can prove it.

I understand communications in both crisis situations and in the most challenging of circumstances. I continue to write Opinion-Editorial columns (as a columnist and no longer as a journalist or reporter). But my focus is on strategic communications in challenging situations and analysis of both U.S. politics and Middle East politics.

 

BACKGROUND:
I began in mainstream professional journalism in 1976 covering Chicago City Hall, politics, education, neighborhood events and general assignments. I quickly moved in 1978 to become the City Hall reporter writing news, features and a twice weekly columns for the Southtown Economist (now the Southtown/Star newspapers). In 1985, I moved to the Chicago Sun-Times where I worked as a columnist and political writer for PAGE 10. In 1987, I returned to cover Chicago City Hall writing news, features and political analysis. I worked in the City Hall Press Room at City Hall for a total of 16 years covering every mayoral administration from “Daley to Daley.”

My journalism experience also included positions as: Publisher, The Middle Eastern Voice Newspaper (1975-1977); Publisher, The Suburban Villager Newspapers (1993-1997); Managing Editor, The Illinois Police and Sheriff’s News (1997-1998); Managing Editor, Screen Magazine covering the movie production industry (1998-1999); Publisher, VideoBiz Magazine covering the video movie business, (1988-1996); general assignment freelance writer, Casino Magazine, covering the gaming industry (1993-1997);

In 1985, I launched Hanania Enterprises Ltd., (as of 1992, Urban Strategies Group Media and Public Affairs), providing professional media and communications services to government agencies, political candidates, and to businesses and organizations in the public and private sectors. I have managed and provided media relations and media strategy services to more than 75 candidates for public office. (I also ran for Illinois Legislative office in 1992 myself so I could experience campaigning firsthand in order to widen my experience and knowledge).

I have also provided crisis communications and media consulting services to many Fortune 250 Corporation clients including AMOCO, Bechtel, Wirtz Beverage, Horseshoe Casino, The Grand Victoria Casino, and AON Risk Management.

 

COLUMN COMMENTARY:
Many media consultants can talk about the media as observers. I can share with you my direct hands-on experience in the media. I continue to engage the news media as a columnist and political analyst for major news media around the world.

I write political analysis and opinion columns addressing mainstream American political issues and topics in the news that offer insight into the controversial arena of the Middle East conflict. Newspapers running my columns include publications in the United States, such as the Southwest News Newspaper Group (Southwest News-Herald, the Regional News, the Palos Reporter, the Des Plaines Valley News and the Lawndale News newspapers) and other publications.

My columns appear internationally including in the Middle East where I have written for the prestigious Jerusalem Post Newspaper and YnetNews.com, as well as the Saudi Gazette and the Arab News Newspapers.

I currently write a weekly opinion-analysis column every Thursday for the prestigious Arab News at www.ArabNews.com. And I manage the news website The Arab Daily News, which is a blogging site for individual writers, photographers and many contributors for their writing works at www.TheArabDailyNews.com which focuses on news and feature stories on American Arabs as well as showcasing the latest wide-ranging opinion – commentary of an array of diverse American Arab bloggers.

I also contribute columns and opinions under my byline to several online websites including Tremr.com. My personal website is TheDailyHookah.com.

My columns seek to define the Moderate American Arab voice and focus on criticism of government policies in the United States and abroad, including in the Arab World and in Israel. The columns were previously distributed by Creators Syndicate.

 

STANDUP COMEDY:
I continue to perform Palestinian-Israeli standup comedy using humor to break through the animosity that separates communities.

Humor is a very powerful form of communications. My comedy lampoons my unusual marriage as a Palestinian Christian married to a Jewish wife with a Jewish son and Catholic daughter.

Our Jewish wedding was solemn, inspiring and hilarious, too.

“If we can laugh together, we can live together!”
— Ray Hanania, July 2007

 

RADIO TALKSHOW HOST:
I have hosted Talk Radio programs on a wide range of radio stations, beginning with WLS AM Radio for more than 10 years, and for fun on local stations including WCEV, WJJG, WPNA, WBBM AM & FM, WLUP and on WNZK AM in Detroit. Topics range from mainstream issues to international issues, with a fondness for the Middle East where my parents originate.

 

MEDIA RELATIONS:
I manage communications for a very select list of prominent political and non-political clients. I create compelling content and effective messaging. Content is king in communications and I will help you present content that is compelling, effective and that is specific to your target audience(s). I am the best writer in America and I can prove it. If you are being treated unfairly by the mainstream news media, I will help you establish an alternative news media to reach your target audience and constituency.

My client list includes public and private corporations and businesses, government agencies, and also politicians and candidates for political office.

A key strength is the implementation of “surround sound” news media and communications for clients. That includes replacing the mainstream news media with internally produced news and feature reporting that is more focused on the needs of the client’s primary target audience.

A good example of this strategy at work is the Town of Cicero where I serve as the Town Spokesman and Media Strategist. I supervise the production of a 24/7 Cable TV station that covers everything related to the Town of Cicero and broadcast on Channel 6 for the Town’s residents. I also co-supervise the production of a monthly Town Newsletter that is delivered to every home in the community, supervise the production of a quarterly Senior Newsletter for our growing Senior Citizen population, co-design the online Website and Facebook Page which has more than 7,500 followers who are residents of the Town of Cicero, and produce original news, features and press releases that are published in the regional community news media in English and in Spanish. Click here for an overview.

When the mainstream news media is confrontational and refuses to cover your community’s events, we help you replace the mainstream news media and make them obsolete, providing fresh news and up-to-date accurate information to your community residents. (Most mainstream news media are not interested in the good work or services your community provides to its residents and it is up to you to fill that void.)

 

AWARDS & DISTINCTIONS:
Journalism awards recognize achievement. I am proud to be the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Lisagor” Awards for column writing. The Chicago Headline Club is the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2010, I received the National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists.

In November, 2006, I was named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by the New America Media.

In 1990, I was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for my series on life in the West Bank during the first Palestinian Intifada.

 

PHILOSOPHY:
In today’s “new media,” the line between media relations and opinion commentary is much thinner. But separating the two and being open and honest about my work allows me to tap both sides of journalism and professional communications to offer the public, readers of my column and my radio and Cable TV audiences a unique and full perspective on all events whether they are in Chicago’s suburbs, Washington D.C. or in the Middle East. There are very few media consultants who have frontline professional journalism experience who also understand the working mainstream news media, a knowledge that can be used to the advantage of clients.

The mainstream American news media is biased when it comes to many specific topics or areas of public discussion. They engage in partisan politics and advocacy of preferred partisan issues. Understanding when this bias occurs and why allows you to respond effectively.

Click here to view Ray Hanania discussing media bias at an Arab Journalism conference in 2002.

 

MIDDLE EAST PEACE:
I have a deep and personal commitment to work for peace in the Middle East, bringing Palestinians and Arabs, and Jews and Israelis together.

I oppose violence, condemn terrorism and strive to advocate for peaceful expressions of differing opinions in the contentious Middle East conflict.

I support Israel’s right to exist and the right of Palestinians to a sovereign independent State based on the Geneva Accords and the Two-State Solution.

My columns and analysis challenge extremism on both sides and seek to empower moderate voices. Criticism is an important aspect of that strategy, but criticism that is focused and based on principle.

 

MILITARY SERVICE:
I am proud to have served Active Duty in the United States Air Force, enlisting in 1972 and serving through August 1975 at a Vietnam Support F-111 Air Force Base in Idaho working in the medical field and base hospital.

With a Vietnam Era Service Ribbon among my honors, I received an Honorable Discharge and continued my service in the Illinois Air National Guard for more than 10 years. I am a proud member of the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in the Military.

 

ASSOCIATIONS:
Graduate, member FBI Citizens Academy, Chicago
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Asian American Journalists Association
Society of Professional Journalists
Public Relations Society of America
Chicago Headline Club SPJ