Bio

I cover energy and the environment for Forbes and teach journalism and argument at the University of Chicago. My work has appeared under the banner of dailies including the Chicago Tribune and Arizona Republic, alternative weeklies including Newcity and New Times, journals including PEN International Magazine. I was born on the South Side of Chicago and live there now, but two of my nine lives were spent in Arizona and California—a third on the meander. This site collects feeds from the places I publish, and I’ve collected a few clips here that have stood out over the years like, for example, my first.

Email me at this link.

cop21logoJeff McMahon’s coverage of the Paris Climate Conference for Forbes: [click to continue…]

Musk

by Jeff McMahon
Forbes | May 1, 2015

It would be almost three hours until Tesla’s big announcement, but inside a Northwestern University classroom near Chicago Thursday night, the famed nuclear critic Arnie Gundersen had the inside scoop: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was about to announce an industrial-scale battery, Gundersen said, that would cost about 2¢ per kilowatt hour to use, putting the final nail in the coffin of nuclear power.

Read at Forbes…>

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Click to read these samples of Jeff’s work syndicated in the Chicago Tribune:

9 Reasons China Will Have Blue Skies

While U.S. Fills Potholes, China Plans Transport Boom

Google Wants The Government’s Data On You

Click to view PDF files of Jeff’s work in Pen International Magazine:

"A Poor Man's Che," an essay about socialism and Nicaragua. PDF Download."Skateboarding with Mouloud," a story about Spring, and cats, and writing"The Writer We Need Now," an essay about Heywood Broun

Newcity cover art by Tony Fitzpatrick

By Jeff McMahon
Reprinted from Newcity magazine • Saturday, March 28, 2009

This is the story of the broken heart of a man, the rusty heart of a city, and how they got all tangled up as one. Like a lot of us, he learned hope and heartbreak first from a baseball team, then from bruising bouts with love, then from the city in which he lived, but unlike a lot of us, he never learned to play along, never stopped seeing the way things are contrasted against the way things ought to be, never stopped championing the nobodies nobody knows—for there, he wrote, beats Chicago’s heart. He followed his own beat straight to the place where pride will lead you every time—to poverty and exile—while describing Chicago as no one had since Carl Sandburg and as no one has again. And save for the devotion of a peculiar few, the City of Big Shoulders shrugged him off.

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By Jeff McMahon
Reprinted from PEN International magazine • Friday, November 28, 2008

Less than three years after the U.S. Cavalry massacred the Sioux at Wounded Knee, Chicagoans could safely observe Sioux en campm ents at the World’s Columbian Exposition, and the science of ethnography was born. So goes the story, and so it will go with socialists.

As soon as the last socialist dies – which might happen soon in Cuba – we will study them as curiosities, celebrate them as nostalgic objects, observe them through some modern version of a Columbian Exposition exhibit. It has already begun with Che Guevara: four years ago Gael García Bernal portrayed Che’s formative years in The Motorycle Diaries, and soon we will be able to safely observe the revolutionary Che, played by Benicio Del Toro, in a 268-minute biopic by Steven Soderbergh. We can watch while wearing our Original Che Berets, on sale right now at the Che Store for only $24.99 – $5.00 off the regular price. I will celebrate Che as much as the next subject of capital, but when I think of socialism I will not think of Che. I will think of Lozandro Polanco. [click to continue…]

By Jeff McMahon
Reprinted from Forecast Earth • August 6, 2008

It sounds like science fiction: a previously unknown insect with an appetite for electrical circuitry appears at a Houston-area chemical plant and marches toward the Johnson Space Center, defying human attempts to stop it with conventional weapons.

“I think we ought to be in panic mode,” said Tom Rasberry, the Pearland-Texas exterminator who was the first to battle the unidentified species that has informally taken his name: the crazy rasberry ant. “I’m not one of these people who panic about anything, but this is something that I really do think we should panic about it.” [click to continue…]

By Jeff McMahon
Reprinted from Newcity magazine • Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It isn’t hard to love a town for its greater and its lesser towers, its pleasant parks or its flashing ballet. Or for its broad and bending boulevards, where the continuous headlights follow, one dark driver after the next, one swift car after another, all night, all night and all night. But you never truly love it till you can love its alleys too. Where the bright and morning faces of old familiar friends now wear the anxious midnight eyes of strangers a long way from home. — From Nelson Algren’s “Chicago: City on the Make”

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Links to 20th Century commentaries still breathing on ancient, lingering websites: [click to continue…]

from New Times and Contrary

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By Jeffrey A. McMahon
Special for the Arizona Republic
Oct. 11, 1985 • first pro clip

Staff members at the University of Arizona’s Radiation Control Center routinely discard in dumpsters up to 30,000 vials a month that once contained radioactive substances, and may still contain small amounts…

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National Society of Newspaper Columnists logo

• Golden Quill Award for best commentary in an English-language weekly newspaper, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, 2000

• Golden Quill Award for best commentary in an English-language weekly newspaper, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, 1999

• First Place, National Society of Newspaper Columnists Competition, 1996

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