For more than three decades, Ray Long has written about Illinois government and politics--the Greatest Beat on Planet Earth. He has worked in the Chicago Tribune's statehouse bureau since 1998. He has authored ground-breaking stories about political scandals, questionable public spending, massive budget problems and major legislative issues under five governors. He played significant roles in multiple hard-edged stories about imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, and impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat sentenced to prison for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by another graduate of the Illinois legislature, President Barack Obama.
Ray Long is the longtime president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association, the press corps that covers the state capitol. He has received numerous local and national awards for individual and team reporting, including for spot news, enterprise, investigations and news analysis.
The Tribune cited Long for outstanding professional performance in 2002 for reporting on Illinois' special brand of pork-barrel spending, awarded him the 2009 William H. Jones Award for Investigative Reporting for a hard-edged team effort that foreshadowed the impeachment of Blagojevich and awarded him the 2012 Jones Award for Investigative Reporting for a team effort exploring public pension scandals. Long and Tribune colleagues won the November 2008 national Capitolbeat first-place award for beat reporting. Long has won numerous Peter Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club for individual and team reporting, including in 2010 for the Tribune team’s robust deadline reporting of Blagojevich's removal from office. He is one of dozens of reporters who participated in the Tribune’s Gateway to Gridlock series in 2000, a staff effort awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Long was inducted into the Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois Springfield in 2008, and he was inducted into the journalism Hall of Fame at Eastern Illinois University, where he was co-winner of the school's reporter of the year award in 2009.
He formerly ran The Associated Press bureau in Springfield; he covered Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago City Hall, Cook County Board, courts and state government for the Chicago Sun-Times; and he covered local, state and federal beats for the Peoria Journal Star.