The challenges of being a writer

An overview of the online writing career of award winning columnist and news and feature writer Ray Hanania.

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

When I first started in writing in the 1970s, my first challenge was just using the typewriter. I used to write “Letters to the Editor” of local papers in longhand. The letters were so good, the editor of my first full-time newspaper, The Southtown Economist (later Daily Southtown, now owned by the Chicago Tribune) hired me.

I’m not sure if he just thought that hiring me would eliminate me as a pesty letter writer, or if he really thought I was a great writer.

Still, it didn’t take long for me to easily climb to the top of the newspaper writing a column that became must-read for every politician in Illinois. Yes, my first love is and always has been Chicago and Illinois politics. Let’s just call it “Chicagoland.”

Back in the days before the Internet, it was easy. You wrote one column. On all topics.

But since the Internet, with so many people out there looking for specific topics and narrowed interests. And the Internet made it easier to aggregate writings using different websites.

So today, I really have several websites for writing opinion columns and expressing my opinions including in audio podcast format (as the host of several radio shows in Chicagoland).

Ray Hanania covering Nazi Frank Collins in Marquette Park in 1979

Ray Hanania covering Nazi Frank Collins press conference in Marquette Park in Chicago in July 1978

The first continues to focus on Chicagoland and Illinois politics. It’s called “Illinois News Network.” It not only includes my Opinion columns, which are published in several Chicagoland newspapers today (The Des Plaines Valley News, The Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, and the Palos Reporter Newspapers), but it also includes blog posts and columns from several other Chicagoland writers.

Turns out it’s better to write “in a crowd” than to write alone. It spreads a wider net to gain exposure and reach readers on the Internet Highway. And it works. The site averages between 4,000 and 10,000 page views per day. That’s phenomenal.

The Illinois News Network also includes news and feature stories written by myself and others.

The second focuses on the Middle East and a topic close to my heart, the lives and culture of American Arabs (or Arab Americans, for purposes of SEO — Search Engine Optimization). This website is called The Arab Daily News and it also includes my columns, the columns of a handful of other writers, and original news and feature stories on American Arabs.

I also write a column syndicated by Creators Syndicate which is distributed to newspapers throughout the Middle East and Europe. I often post these columns on The Arab Daily News site, with attribution.

The website is

df2f6-photo5b35dThis website is one of the highest trafficked website on American Arabs and Arab American writing on Middle East and Arab and Muslim topics. In November 2014, the website logged in more than 1 million page views. That’s about 33,300 page views per day.

On an average slow month, it logs in more than 800,000 page views per month, or an average of 28,000 page views per day.

I also have this web site, The Media Oasis, which can be reached using several Domains:

That may change, but for now, it brings in good feeder traffic of more than 300 visitors each day.

Finally, I also have my radio show on the online and radio station broadcast Yahala Voice. You can listen to Yahala Voice using the Internet by visiting

My radio show there, Talk of the Town, is broadcast on Friday afternoons at 4:05 pm CST Chicago time. It’s about 55 minutes, until 5 pm CST. And it is broadcast live on 1450 AM Radio in Chicago and simulcast online at

The radio show focuses on Middle East and Arab American / American Arab issues, with special focus on the involvement of American Arabs in local and regional and national politics.

You can listen to past podcasts of my radio show by visiting Talk of the Town Radio’s podcast page at

Well, that’s me. I hope you enjoy my writing. I am always interested in feedback, of course. We don’t have to agree but it has to be respectful.

You can also check out my Social Media links:

Facebook Fan Page

Twitter Page

Google+ Page

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at

Categories: Chicagoland Topics, journalism, Middle East Topics

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