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Mark Brown biography

Updated: January 8, 2013 11:56AM



Mark Brown is a local news columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who writes about everything from political corruption to family life. Roger Ebert once called him the "best local columnist since Mike Royko," and Chicago Magazine recognized Brown in its Best of Chicago. That was a few years ago now, which is why Brown says he subscribes to the Satchel Paige philosophy: "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."

Regular readers of Brown's column know he's got a soft spot for the city's homeless people, Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park and pepper-and-egg sandwiches from anybody that makes a good one. They also know that, while they may disagree with his liberal views, he comes by them honestly. He is in particular an advocate of common sense, especially in government, where it is so often in short supply. On occasion, Brown even writes columns in which he talks to his dog, Gilbert, a Spaniel of uncertain parentage. That wouldn¹t be so unusual except that Gilbert talks back. Some readers swear Gilbert makes more sense than Brown. Brown refuses comment.

Brown grew up in central Illinois, graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1977 and then attended the Public Affairs Reporting program at University of Illinois-Springfield, then known as Sangamon State, where he was a Sun-Times intern. Brown worked four years at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, before joining the Sun-Times full-time in 1982.

At the Sun-Times, Brown worked mainly as a general assignment reporter specializing politics and government, which led him into investigative reporting. In September 2000, Brown began writing his column, which currently appears Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday. One of his strengths is that he has experience covering not only Chicago City Hall, but also Cook County government and the Illinois Statehouse.

Brown, a third-string high school basketball player, grew up obsessed with St. Louis Cardinals baseball, Chicago Bears football and Bradley basketball. Only Bradley has moved down on his radar, replaced by the Bulls.

Most Sunday mornings in the spring and fall, Brown can be found playing
soccer in an adult recreation league in Oak Park. He took up the sport
several years ago when one of his son¹s quit playing. At his age, Brown
admits he is too old to be learning a new sport and trying to keep up with
guys 20 and 30 years younger, but he says it¹s a lot of fun trying.

Brown is married to Hanke Gratteau, a former Chicago Tribune managing editor
now working in the not-for-profit world. Their twin boys, Harry and
Spencer, are off at college.


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