Photo credit: Alexus McLane. 

Photo credit: Alexus McLane. 



Lee V. Gaines is a Chicago-based independent journalist with a plethora of experience covering a multitude of subjects ranging from medical marijuana, to education, politics, the civil and criminal justice system, social justice and the city's vibrant underground arts and music scenes. Gaines specializes in journalistic investigations and storytelling at the intersection of culture, politics and the law. 


Named one of 20 creative influencers; VAM Studio, Chicago – 2017

Publick Occurrences Award; New England Newspaper & Press Association — Fall 2012



Investigative Reporting; Copy Editing; Feature Writing; Social Media Management; Breaking News Coverage; Audio Recording & Editing; Fact-Checking; Pitching. 


Freelance Reporter – Chicago Tribune - Chicago, Ill. - Oct. 2013 – Present

  • Report on hundreds of breaking news stories typically turning around clean copy within a few hours.

  • Expertly cover protests, community meetings and local government controversies, including minimum wage laws, the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equity, LGBTQ issues, tax levies, school curriculum, Islamophobia, the Affordable Care Act, women's rights, medical marijuana and sexual violence.

  • Cover education, crime, business, local elections and political developments in Chicago's northern and northwest suburbs.

Contributing Writer – Chicago Reader - Chicago, Ill. - Dec. 2015 – Present

  • Pitch and break stories related to marijuana, culture, music and local government that generate tens of thousands of page views.

  • Engage in enterprise and investigative reporting, including a close examination of Chicago Police arrest data that revealed that 96% of people arrested in the city in 2016 for low-level marijuana possession were either black or Hispanic.

  • Developed a marijuana beat at the Chicago Reader and was one of the first reporters to break the news that state legislators had filed bills to legalize and tax recreational marijuana possession, cultivation and sales in Illinois.

    Contributing Writer – Chicago Magazine - Chicago, Ill. - July 2016 – Present

  • Investigate issues pertaining to the state's medical marijuana program and city-wide cultural news.

  • Investigated and broke a story that revealed that a statewide medical cannabis advisory board charged with recommending new conditions for the program had been disbanded in a back room political deal.

Assistant Editor – Gatehouse Media New England - Needham, Mass. - Oct. 2012 – May 2013

  • Carried out all reporting activities detailed below.

  • Copy and line edited stories and weekly content to deliver clean and engaging stories to readers.

  • Expertly managed content and proofed pages in CMS systems.

  • Trained and assisted interns.

Staff Reporter – Gatehouse Media New England - Needham, Mass. - Oct. 2012 – May 2013

  • Produced award-winning stories, including an investigation of Wellesley Public Schools administrative practices.

  • Was the first reporter at Gatehouse Media New England to report on the Boston Marathon Bombing.

  • Expertly reported on town meetings, board of education meetings, human interest features and police and fire news.

  •  Shot and edited photos and videos for print and digital platforms.


  • Contributing Writer - THE MARSHALL PROJECT - New York, N.Y. - June 2017 – Present
  • Freelance Correspondent - CRAIN'S NATIONAL - Chicago, Ill. - Aug. 2017 – Present
  • Freelance Audio Producer - HERE BE MONSTERS (KCRW) - Santa Monica, Calif. - Sept. 2017 – Present


Bachelor of Arts in English, CLARK UNIVERSITY, 2011