By 1976, Reporter Pam Zekman was well-acquainted with the everyday corruption that permeated Chicago. After all, the city was so well-known for shady dealings it birthed its own shorthand. “Chicago-style politics” was used with frequency to describe boss-style rule and graft in government.
When Zekman was poached by a rival paper, the feisty Chicago Sun-Times, she proposed a daring project that would go down in the annals of journalism history as both a feat of reporting and a focal point for ethics debates still raging today. For years, Zekman had been collecting tips about city employees extracting bribes from local businessmen, but couldn’t get sources to go on the record; she figured the only way to get the story would be to get inside the system. So she convinced her paper to buy a bar…
Words by Andy Wright