Ron May: An Original Voice

by J. A. Ginsburg
June 25, 2013



Of course I clicked on The May Report whenever it unexpectedly popped into my inbox. It was always a welcome interruption, filled with the promise of a peek beneath the teflon surface of Chicago's tech scene for some answers to questions most people are too polite to ask. The combination of practical, mundane and salacious—why it was art. But yesterday's TMR was the last.

He penned his own farewell, only this time requesting comments instead of cards. This was mine: 


Like so many, our paths first crossed at a Chicago tech event. You looked at me, trying to place me, and when that failed, barked, "Give me your card!" I did, of course, and soon found myself on the mailing list of the most extraordinary "Report." Quirky, insightful, rude, brilliant, entertaining, informative, gossipy, fascinating, fearless. What fun to be sitting in the cheap seats watching shots—sometimes cheap, sometimes oh so richly deserved—fly by. Wow.

Chicago used to be filled with larger than life literary lions. From the old City News Bureau and "The Front Page" it inspired, to the likes of Mike Royko and Robert Ebert, Chicago was brimming with reporters who made you want to read. They were characters who cared deeply about the beats they covered: born journalists, always digging, always writing, only getting better with age.

For all the bluster and broad swipes, it was always clear that you were trying to beat some truth into the conversation, batting away the blarney of press releases with joyful ease. Your position—feared by some, even hated by some—gave you a relished freedom. Whether you were a Royko or an Ebert is beside the point: You had a reporter's hunger and a way with words. You stood on the outside, exactly where a reporter should be.

Chicago still has some wonderful reporters and writers, but the infrastructure has been shredding for years in a perfect storm of disruptive innovation and legacy debt. Our newspapers limp along, shedding staff, cowering behind pay walls few care to scale. Television broadcasts struggle to report news that's old news by the time it airs. Even WBEZ isn't what it once was (

I don't know how you managed to keep TMR going. I'm sure it was a bit Don Quixote, a combination of belief and sheer will. But it was amazing to watch. And you will be missed.

Yours was an original voice.


— J. A. Ginsburg

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