Who is Hildy Johnson?
Hildy Johnson is a pseudonym for Newcity editor and publisher Brian Hieggelke and is used in the context of media coverage.
He originated the byline as a press columnist in the early nineties (“Press Relief”) and revived it in various one-offs over the years before bringing it back regularly for the “Thought Police” column in 2012.
The rationale was, and is, as follows:
One, since he was writing about his own industry, he wanted this column to reflect personal views and not be perceived as company policy or any kind of corporate vision.
Two, inspired by the brilliant media column in the late, great Spy magazine written in the eighties under the pen name JJ Hunsecker (from the movie “The Sweet Smell of Success”) that was rumored to be written by someone who actually worked for the New York Times, so knowing was its insight, Hieggelke wanted to create a mechanism where journalists employed at the Tribune and Sun-Times might write for the column under the protection of a pseudonym. The classic theatrical treatment of Chicago journalism, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s “The Front Page,” provided the perfect structure. Hieggelke would be Hildy, and operate as such openly within the media community. But others might assume the “roles” of other characters in the play and, eventually, some did.
Hildy Johnson won the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in 1993 for columns/commentary.