“You can’t win the argument unless you win the audience first.”
I am one of the most effective writers and media messaging strategists in the country. And I can prove it.
I understand communications in both normal situations and in the most challenging of circumstances of crisis. I continue to write Opinion-Editorial columns (as a columnist and no longer as a journalist or reporter) as a thought leader on politics, government and everyday life. I apply strategic communications and hard hitting analysis in challenging situations both in mainstream American politics at the local and regional level, and in advocating for peace in the Middle East.
— RAY HANANIA
I began as a freelance writer while completing my college studies in 1975 and 1976, immediately after serving two-years Active Duty in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War where I received an Honorable Discharge.
While in College at Northern Illinois University before my military service and at the University of Illinois at Circle after my military service, I studied under several prominent political science professors including Martin Diamond at NIU, Frank Tachau at Circle and under the direct supervision as an independent study for one year under renown political scientist Milton Rakove.
I entered professional journalism in 1976 at the urging of Professor Rakove.My first political assignment was to interview Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1976 for an English-language newspaper I launched called The Middle Eastern Voice.
In 1977, I was hired by the Southtown Economist twice-weekly newspaper (later becoming the Daily Southtown in 1978) and my initial assignments included politics, education, and neighborhood issues. I was assigned in 1978 as Chicago City Hall reporter writing news, features and a twice-weekly political column. Working overtime on weekends, I covered general assignment news and features writing about fires, murders and other major crimes.
During that time, I also freelanced as a Radio Talkshow host at WLS AM 890, a major 50,000 Watt radio station hosting a five-hour live talk show on politics on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I worked the for more than 10 years.
In 1985, I was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times where I worked as a columnist and political writer for the Society Column, “PAGE TEN”. In 1987, I was reassigned to cover Chicago City Hall writing news, features and political analysis, working with the late Harry Golden Jr., my journalism mentor. I was named senior City Hall reporter after his passing in 1989. I worked in the City Hall Press Room at City Hall for a total of 17 years covering every mayoral administration from “Daley to Daley.”
I appeared frequently as a political commentator and discussion panelist on many major Chicagoland TV interview programs including: nearly every week on WMAQ (NBC) TV’s “City Desk” with Dick Kay; “Newsmakers” with Walter Jacobson on WBBM (CBS) TV; “People to People” on WGN TV; Politics with Hugh Hill on WLS (ABC) TV; and “Chicago Week in Review” on WTTW TV Channel 11, hosted by Joel Weisman.
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); columnist The Southwest News Newspaper Group (2004-present).
In 1985, I launched Hanania Enterprises Ltd. to manage freelance writing assignments from around the country. In 1992, under the name Urban Strategies Group Media & Public Affairs, I began providing professional media and communications services to government agencies, political candidates, and to businesses and organizations in the public and private sectors.
If you are seeking election to public office, I provide complete campaign services. If you hold public office, I help you manage your public image and communications messaging to your target constituency. If you are in private business, I help you with public relations, government relations and developing events to raise positive awareness of your business profile.
I have managed and provided media relations and strategy services to more than 75 candidates and public office holders. They include clients seeking who held or sought office in suburban municipal governments, candidates and incumbent aldermen in the Chicago City Council, Cook County Board members and countywide office holders, representatives and senators in the Illinois General Assembly, and several members of the U.S. Congress.
I first ran for Illinois Legislative office in 1992 so I could experience campaigning firsthand in order to widen my experience and knowledge and provide a complete experience to my clients.
I have also provided media services and crisis management consulting strategy to several Fortune 250 Corporation clients including AMOCO, Bechtel, Wirtz Beverage, Horseshoe Casino, The Grand Victoria Casino, and AON Risk Management.
AWARDS & DISTINCTIONS:
Journalism awards recognize writing talent.
I have been honored as 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 1990, I was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for my series on life in the Israeli occupied West Bank during the first Palestinian Intifada. I also received two Stick-o-Type Awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild while at the Chicago Sun-Times.
In November, 2006, I was named “Best Ethnic Columnist in America” by the New America Media, often called the “Ethnic Pulitzer Prize.”
In May 2010, I received the National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Column and news reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
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, in print and in broadcast communications.
I write political analysis and opinion columns addressing mainstream American politics and everyday “slice-of-life” topics in the news offering insight into the issues we deal with as a public everyday. 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 including News Day in New York City, the Houston Chronicle in Houston, the Orlando Sentinel in Florida, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald in Northern Illinois.
I manage the online news website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com which provides original news, features and commentary on mainstream topics in Chicagoland, the suburbs and Illinois.
My columns on Middle East issues appear internationally including in 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 and print media, including on my personal website, 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.
Newspapers my columns and writings have appeared in professionally:
- Chicago Sun-Times
- St. Louis post-Dispatch
- Orlando Sentinel
- Philadelphia Inquirer
- The Times Record, Zanesville, Ohio
- Newsday, New York
- The New York Daily News
- The Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Illinois
- Houston Chronicle
- The Daily Southtown (Southtown Economist) Chicago
- The Arab News, Jeddah Saudi Arabia
- The Saudi Gazette
- The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan
- The Jerusalem Post, Israel
- YNetNews.com (Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel)
I continue to perform Palestinian-Israeli standup comedy using humor to break through the animosity that separates communities. You can visit my website at www.IsraeliPalestinianComedy.com for more information on this trend-setting comedy phenomena.
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.
I appear regularly on the region’s top issues-focussed talk shows including on the nationally syndicated live radio show “Beyond the Beltway” hosted by Bruce Dumont.
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, local homeowners, businesses and families.
A good example of this strategy at work is in my services to 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. You have to provide that information.
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 American 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 Israelis, Jews and Arabs 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.
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.
Graduate, member FBI Citizens Academy, Chicago
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
National Arab American Journalists Association
Asian American Journalists Association
Society of Professional Journalists
Public Relations Society of America
Chicago Headline Club SPJ