Alumni Newsletter

Newsmakers: For Marwa Eltagouri, the news never stopped in Chicago in 2016

Courtesy of Marwa Eltagouri

Marwa Eltagouri, a former Daily Orange news editor, joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune after graduating from Syracuse University in 2014.

Looking back on the past year, Marwa Eltagouri joked she “didn’t sleep for the entire month of October.”

“I am very much a GA reporter, because I am signed up to do something, which I did for like a month (in 2016),” Eltagouri (‘14)  said. “And then everything in Chicago went haywire.”

In addition to her beat focusing on immigration and gentrification for the Chicago Tribune, she’s covered just about everything else in 2016 — including a historic World Series run by the Chicago Cubs and an unprecedented presidential election.

With these news events fading into her rearview, Eltagouri will now be able to put more emphasis back on her beat — one that came from an idea she pitched to her editors. Chicago became the only one of the United States’ 20 most populous cities to decrease in population from 2014 to 2015. Demographic changes — a steadily declining black population and an increase in the Latino population — have reshaped the city’s demographics.

“It’s nice to be able to focus on one subject and become a real expert in it,” said Eltagouri, a former Daily Orange news editor. “Immigration is just so critical to Chicago.”

During her senior year at Syracuse University, Eltagouri wrote a profile of outgoing chancellor Nancy Cantor. Eltagouri said the story, for which she interviewed more than 40 people, landed her a summer internship at the Tribune after graduation.

The paper kept Eltagouri on after the summer and she reported on the Chicago suburbs and local politics. When the Tribune restructured at the end of 2015, she became a general assignment reporter.

Eltagouri has also taken night crime shifts and helped the crime reporting team. The city of Chicago has seen more than 700 homicides in this year alone.

Among her more difficult assignments have been covering several shootings involving kids. One, Eltagouri recalled, involved a young girl who was shot while playing with her uncle. The girl survived; the uncle didn’t. In the hospital, the girl asked for him. Despite the girl’s suffering, someone had to tell the girl her uncle had died.

“When you’re writing these stories over and over and over again, it becomes really routine, and it’s hard to remember that it’s not supposed to be routine,” Eltagouri said. “Each shooting should be horrific.”

As the Cubs made their run through the MLB playoffs, editors pulled Eltagouri off crime so she could write news stories focused on an event captivating the city. Eltagouri wrote how fans find playoff keepsakes in the age of electronic tickets; a profile of Julianna Zobrist, the wife of the Cubs’ second baseman/outfielder; and coverage of the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Shortly after the Cubs won their first title in 108 years, she started covering the election — something that brought her closer to her initial beat.

While she said there is nothing that has quite prepared her for these stories, Eltagouri said her time at The D.O. helped establish her breaking news skills. In 2012, she covered an accident in which a student was hit by a taxi on Comstock Avenue. Following the breaking news story, Eltagouri wrote a story on what could be done to make the area safer.

“It’s little stories like that, the breaking news stories, followed up by the bigger picture stories,” Eltagouri said. “The D.O. allows you to work on so much enterprise and write that enterprise really, really well.”

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