Gazette Chicago wins Apex for Oscar D’Angelo coverage
September 1, 2017

Paula D’Angelo (left), shown with her late husband, Oscar is one of the commu-
nity members happy that Gazette Chicago won an Apex Award. The couple is shown at the dedication of Oscar D’Angelo Park in 1989.

Gazette Chicago’s 2016 coverage of the passing of community activist Oscar O. D’Angelo has won an Award of Excellence from Communications Concepts in the News Writing category in the organization’s Apex 2017 competition.

The award honors Editor Mark J. Valentino, Associate Editor William S. Bike, and reporter Susan S. Stevens for their articles on the topic, which appeared in the Sept. 2, 2016, edition of Gazette Chicago.

Communications Concepts is a journalism and communications think tank based outside Washington, DC, in Springfield, VA. This year’s Apex competition was the 29th annual.

“Apex Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and the ability to achieve overall communications excellence,” said John De Lillis, one of the Apex judges. “With close to 1,400 entries, competition was exceptionally intense.”

“Whether one was a friend or a foe of Oscar D’Angelo, all had to agree that he had a tremendous impact on the Near West Side/Taylor Street community for many decades,” said Mark J. Valentino, editor and publisher of Gazette Chicago. “Our coverage included a factual news story about his history, comments both from people who worked with him and those who worked against him, and my personal reflection on Gazette Chicago’s interactions with him over the years.

“It is doubtful that any one individual will ever again have the impact on the community that Oscar D’Angelo had, so we wanted to give his passing the most thorough coverage possible. Our staff is glad that Communications Concepts agreed with our philosophy and decided that our coverage deserved an Apex Award,” Valentino added.

Fair-minded coverage

“I thought Gazette Chicago did a heck of a job,” said Ted Mazola, president of New West Realty Development Corp. “I thought the coverage was fair minded. I know that sometimes Gazette Chicago and Oscar had their differences, to say the least, but I thought Oscar’s passing was well covered and well balanced.”

“I am very happy to hear of the award given to Gazette Chicago as a result of the coverage of my husband, Oscar,” said Paula D’Angelo.

“Now I want to thank Bill, Susan, and especially Mark for the excellent and balanced overview of Oscar’s life,” she continued. “I must commend your work in attempting to summarize Oscar’s life and impact on our neighborhood and in Chicago.”

To Valentino, Paula D’Angelo said, “Mark, in particular, your beautiful and personal commentary moved me profoundly. Oscar would have been so pleased to know that you understood what he was trying to do, though you did not always agree with his efforts. Your personal insights are poignant, sensitive, and heartfelt. I received many tributes honoring Oscar’s work over these months, but none were as meaningful to me (or to my dear Oscar) as yours.”

“I salute Mark and all of the journalistic staff in their dedication to reporting and commenting on our neighborhood’s news and activities. Congratulations to everyone at Gazette Chicago for the award recently given,” Paula D’Angelo said.

Changes in community

She reflected on Oscar D’Angelo’s unfinished work. “The issue of control of institutional growth, expanded school opportunities both public and Catholic, sign pollution, and increased home ownership were all high on his list,” she said “He was still wanting to work on these issues, but due to his ill health in the last years did not have the energy any longer to put forth the effort required.”

“The giant rental apartment buildings being planned are something he would have worked against,” she continued. “He believed in more home ownership, which we very much need here, whether it is condominium, townhouse, or stand-alone home—not more rentals. Those who own have a commitment to their neighborhood and are concerned with its quality of life. Renters are transient and generally tend not to be involved in community affairs.

“These newly planned construction sites in our community are the first step in creating an anonymous hardened shell with the sense of our neighborhood village disappearing,” D’Angelo said. “With these new developments, the only winners will be the developers.”

Oscar D’Angelo was known for advocating for the community to look good and be neat and tidy. “Now I see more trees being cut, weed-strewn parkways, neglected trash containers, increased litter, and graffiti,” Paula D’Angelo said. “Oscar always felt that our neighborhood is like someone’s own home. Keep it neat and clean, and others will know it is a cared for and peaceful place. And, over the years, that has attracted many to our community to make in their home.”

She also noted that Oscar D’Angelo worked to assure that the area’s Italian-American heritage did not disappear. “Thanks to him, we have the Columbus statue and plaza and the Garibaldi statue and park,” Paula D’Angelo said. “He advocated to developers to name their complexes to pay tribute to the Italian heritage: Medici Court, Verona Square, Tuscany Villas.”

Gazette Chicago has won 70 journalism and excellence awards since 1993. The international Apex 2017 awards competition featured winners from Brazil, Canada, India, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Awardees came from numerous companies and organizations, including the American Bar Association, China Airlines, the International Monetary Fund, Lockheed Martin, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, and Walt Disney World Resort.

For more information on Apex Awards of Excellence and Communications Concepts, log on to www.apexawards.com.