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“Who tells the story of Englewood?”

On May 11, we gathered at Build Coffee for Public Newsroom #17 to talk with Tonika Johnson, an Englewood-based photographer who captures images of Englewood and its residents that challenge typical media narratives about the neighborhood.

See social media posts from our audience below and weigh in here via comments or online using the #PublicNewsroom hashtag. Many thanks to everyone who attended and helped live-tweet from our South Side newsroom—your support helps us continue Public Newsroom conversations with new voices in Chicago.

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After doing full group introductions, we filled out worksheets to get us thinking about insider and outsider perceptions of our own communities.


Then we came up with a list of words usually associated with Englewood. Audience members talked about how perceptions and realities of Englewood compared with perceptions and realities of their own communities.

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Then, Tonika showed some of her photography and talked about her work, especially about how it differed from the previously discussed outsider perspectives of Englewood.

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Then, the audience asked Tonika questions about her photography and discussed strategies for making sure storytelling accurately captures communities. Here are some solutions from our audience:

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Thanks to everyone who came! You can follow Tonika on instagram at @tonikaj or visit her website at Hope to see you soon at the #PublicNewsroom!