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Public Newsroom

A Media Model For Chicago

Notes, tweets and worksheets on envisioning a thriving media landscape, from City Bureau’s Public Newsroom #33

First things first, if you missed our Thursday, August 31, Public Newsroom, you can now listen in each week via our audio livestream (Public Newsroom Radio, anyone?). Join us live on the digital airwaves or bookmark this page for later listening: http://www.spreaker.com/user/citybureau

[embed]https://twitter.com/ellieviole/status/903401967405424640[/embed]

Last night’s workshop was a long time in the making. Our invitation to the public went like this:

Chicago media is in a moment of transition. The Chicago Sun-Times is under new ownership, local nonprofit and community news outlets are working for change on the ground as national outlets move to the city, and foundations are seeking to stabilize a fractured media ecosystem.

At City Bureau, we believe a thriving media ecosystem is key to an informed citizenry, but solutions to our collective challenges will require diverse voices, ideas and input. #PublicNewsroom #33 is one of many places where this conversation will take place.

And it did. Nearly 50 journalists, editors, community members, students and freelancers stopped by our South Side newsroom to hear Sheila Solomon (Rivet Radio, Democracy Fund, formerly of the Chicago Tribune), Scott Smith (Digital and Social Strategist, formerly of Touchvision) and Blanca Rios (ABC7 and NAHJ Chicago chapter president) discuss sustainable media models, newsroom diversity and Chicago’s local media ecosystem.

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/898233313953030145[/embed]

As always, we kicked the night off by having our audience introduce themselves and tell the crowd why they came from across the city to spend time at our space. This portion of the night takes a minute but, honestly, it’s worth every second—it breaks the ice and puts audience members on the same plane as panelists. (Not to mention, it allows attendees to more easily identify connections between each other, and, if they choose, to share contact information after the event.)

We eventually got down to business.

Blanca Rios, Sheila Solomon, Scott Smith and Darryl Holliday

I started by posing a general question to the panel to get our collective creative thoughts flowing: “When you think of media models that Chicago needs to thrive, where do your thoughts go?”

Meanwhile, City Bureau’s lead editor Bettina Chang started a thread that you can follow here:

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/903399215640006656[/embed]

I can’t thank our panelists enough for their readiness to go in on the issues—and our audience for sharing so many questions and insights throughout the conversation.

The first eye-opening moment came via a question from Rivet Radio’s Sheila Solomon:

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/903400390749818880[/embed]

The response was telling. Of a diverse group of ~50 people in the room, less than a handful raised their hands when asked if they feel represented in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. It’s a point Blanca Rios raised not just in terms of audience, but also in the highest levels of newsroom staffing:

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/903421539927953408[/embed]

While alarming, this isn’t news on the South Side of Chicago. In many ways, City Bureau was founded as an infrastructural and solutions-based response to this core issue which, to us, involves a few key points: 1) a lack of community trust in media, 2) a lack of equitable reporting on the part of news outlets, and 3) a traditional gate-keeper approach that doesn’t acknowledge the boons of providing direct services around information and engagement.

[embed]https://twitter.com/lenifaye/status/903399405172252678[/embed]

At the same time, our panelists agreed that an insistence on labeling Chicago a “two-paper town” is flawed in itself. It doesn’t reflect the many community, ethnic and alternative presses that currently exist on Chicago’s media landscape:

[embed]https://twitter.com/lenifaye/status/903399672596877312[/embed]

Some folks in the audience agreed:

[embed]https://twitter.com/bridget_vaughn/status/903402094748717057[/embed]

While Public Newsroom #33 tackled issues of resource distribution for existing and incoming nonprofit news outlets via foundation support, we kept coming back to public support as a means of decreasing reliance on “power” and special interests:

[embed]https://twitter.com/drbarb/status/903405736482541570[/embed]

Our panelists and audience had clearly spent time thinking on this:

[embed]https://twitter.com/drbarb/status/903406635305062400[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/annalizhaz/status/903412283547815937[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/marthabayne/status/903441788530241536[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/ourmaninchicago/status/903609125032136706[/embed]

As we’ve noted in past blogs and events, this last point is in many ways the question that launched City Bureau:

[embed]https://twitter.com/bechang8/status/903628906741334017[/embed]

While we value our expert panelists for their insight, experience and time spent with our team, my personal favorite portion of each #PublicNewsroom event is the workshop. For this event, we had our panelists join the audience for small-group discussions.

This included filling out a worksheet, which serves two functions: 1) to help attendees explore their media consumption habits and and how that connects with their daily lives, 2) to provide us with vital data and information that helps us refine our work and events.

As always, we saved time at the end of the night for each group to share out their discussions to the full group for further reflection:

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/903420245469253632[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/903420667114254337[/embed]

Overall, feedback from Public Newsroom #33 was earnest and affirming—City Bureau Community Engagement Director Andrea Faye Hart may have summed it up best:

[embed]https://twitter.com/lenifaye/status/903419866601984002[/embed]

Some last housekeeping notes:

To follow our reporting and engagement efforts, join our twice-a-month newsletter for updates. Reporting and free community-based events like this is brought to you by a staff of experienced and emerging local journalists working collaboratively to share skills, stories and information in your community. Subscribers are vital to continue our mission.

https://upscri.be/6f35c5/

To support our work at any amount, visit our website.


Lastly, for some further reading, please see the material Scott Smith collected during his preparation for our Public Newsroom panel and workshop from folks like Jeff Jarvis, Jack Conte, Texas Tribune and Nieman Lab. We also encourage you to read his Day 2 thread on some of the issues that weren’t raised during our event (to be sure, these are issues we’ll dig deeper on in a #PublicNewsroom continuation of this conversation):

[embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] [embed]https://medium.com/whither-news/if-i-ran-a-newspaper-220a065d2232[/embed] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UBiufFX27-aK0alNUM5_VIVBQ8JQ5x1fh7Y7SqPCJh8/mobilebasic?pli=1

Public Newsroom #18: Timuel Black on the Art of Oral History

On June 15, civil rights leader, educator and oral historian Timuel Black joined author Audrey Petty in conversation at the Public Newsroom, hosted by Build Coffee. Black spoke for nearly two hours, answering questions from Petty and then from the audience, and talked about growing up in Chicago, his experiences in World War II, his thoughts on the importance of hearing oral history from primary sources and much more.

[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/875477186224033792[/embed]

Photography by Jason Schumer

[embed]https://twitter.com/lenifaye/status/875500478053961730[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875497577709535233[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/BuildCoffee/status/875517227184816128[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875493429396066305[/embed]

Photography by Jason Schumer

[embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875510270025768960[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875503061044797441[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875506352973545472[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875515162979184640[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/875509978693611520[/embed]

Photography by Jason Schumer

[embed]https://twitter.com/AudreyNPetty/status/875558400071004160[/embed]

Thanks to all who came! If you missed it, or want to revisit Timuel Black and Audrey Petty’s words, here’s an audio recording of the event:

[embed]https://soundcloud.com/city-bureau/public-newsroom-22-the-art-of-oral-history-with-timuel-black/s-QVjsY[/embed]

Want to stay up to date on the #PublicNewsroom? Join our Facebook group.

“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.


[embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/862356434658496513[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/city_bureau/status/862823535219273731[/embed]

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

[embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862812182463041540[/embed]

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.

[embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862815605619126272[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Sierra_Alyse/status/862819614014791680[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Borden/status/862815040407207936[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Borden/status/862817577835409408[/embed]

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.

[embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862818412854169602[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Sierra_Alyse/status/862820848725614594[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/BuildCoffee/status/862821859750010881[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/BuildCoffee/status/862824704347967489[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/BuildCoffee/status/862832070485213185[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862818954447814657[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Borden/status/862822597641293824[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/msbmack/status/862824406258724864[/embed]

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:

[embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862826058625818625[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Sierra_Alyse/status/862825977470210050[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862824558734266368[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862825009508700160[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862830175679127552[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Sierra_Alyse/status/862826802196221952[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862826766204903424[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862827410491936768[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/maricohen95/status/862829444842565632[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Borden/status/862824427259645952[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Borden/status/862830563216035840[/embed]

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

[embed]https://twitter.com/MrsGirlsLikeMe/status/862847884911423488[/embed]

BLOG: City Bureau Hosts Community Workshops About Lead Contamination

By Mindy Dillon, City Bureau Documenter

On Monday, March 13, Nissa Rhee of City Bureau hosted the first in a series of events designed to engage and educate Chicago residents about the dangers of lead in their communities. These events follow the publication of “Living with Lead,” a special edition of the South Side Weekly produced by City Bureau and published on December 14, 2016.

Eric Potash, University of Chicago researcher, and Dr. Howard Ehrman, former primary care and assistant commissioner in the Chicago Department of Public Health, joined Rhee, head of the team of journalists that produced this special edition, at Legler Library, 115 S. Pulaski Rd.

The lead experts explained how the current model for addressing lead exposure and lead poisoning in Chicago is reactive as opposed to preventative, and palliative instead of curative.

Potash explained that, currently, once a child tests positive for elevated blood levels, the city is notified and a Lead Investigating Unit attempts to make contact with the family. In this model, the city reacts to an exposure that has taken place and attempts to rectify a situation that has already caused damage. This effort is often hampered by insufficient funds and staff and an inability to establish contact with the families due to unreliable addresses or lack of response to phone calls. In his research, Potash is developing a model that would allow the city to use funds in a more efficient and targeted way to predict where children are most at risk and prevent the exposure in the first place.

Exposure prevention, according to Ehrman, has to be the goal, since no amount of lead is safe in the human body. Ehrman explained that while officials took the right steps by decreasing so-called “normal” rates from 60 to 5 micrograms per deciliter, lead is a neurotoxin that destroys brain cells and anything above zero is not normal. To put the danger in perspective for children on the West and South sides of Chicago, Ehrman explained that children in these communities have two times the risk of children in Flint, Michigan, which has made national news for the severity of health issues caused by high lead levels in its water supply.

Ehrman offered suggestions for individual and immediate action as well as communal and political action. As individuals, immediate steps can be taken:

  1. Use cold water only.
  2. Place filters on every drinking faucet.
  3. Call 311 to request a free water test by Chicago’s Department of Water Management or, as Rhee explained, go to chicagowaterquality.org and request one online.
  4. Have soil tested.
  5. Children should always be tested via venipuncture and not by finger prick, which can give false positive and false negatives. Rhee elaborated that every child should be tested at one year of age and again at two.
  6. Be aware that plumbers often still use lead solder on copper pipes as it is easier to work with and they still have a large supply of it. This too can be a source of lead exposure.
  7. Rhee added that residents should text the word LEAD to 312–697–1791 to get data from lead tests in their neighborhood.

Politically, Ehrman suggested that concerned citizens should organize, advocate for stricter laws on landlords, and demand that city officials look to the example set by Massachusetts and Wisconsin and others that are providing grants to property owners to fix, rather than simply mitigate, the problem by replacing service lines.

To be effective, communities should organize by block particularly around areas where water mains are being replaced, Ehrman said. He warned that the sudden rush to replace water mainlines could set the stage for the privatization of Chicago’s water supply—a step that some believe played a role in Flint’s health disaster.

In addition, Chicago needs tougher laws regulating landlords and a grant system to help citizens replace service lines which connect properties to the main water lines, Ehrman said. He suggested that citizens need to advocate for laws, like those in New York City that require landlords of any three-flat or larger building to test for lead every year. Chicago should also follow the lead of Boston and Madison, Wisconsin, that provide grants to property owners to help replace service lines.

Rhee opened the panel to audience questions. Sheila Sutton of the Metropolitan Tenant Organization (MTO) said she has issues with housing vouchers, which in some cases have resulted in worse living conditions, including increased exposure to lead, due to the lack of affordable housing in Chicago and lack of landlord oversight. MTO is contracted by the city to help test homes for lead. Sutton explained that the city has limited resources and will usually only respond to households with elevated lead tests if they have children under two or pregnant women living there.

Troy Hernandez, a Pilsen resident, said he is worried that testing does not actually solve the problem. He added that flushing the water for five minutes anytime the water has been standing in the service lines for an extended period is an effective preventative measure. This means flushing upon waking or returning home at night.

The panel adjourned with the consensus that while paint and dilapidated buildings are still the primary source of lead exposure, the whole lead ecosystem should be looked at and addressed.

The final “Living with Lead” workshop will be Saturday March 25 at 10:30am
at the Thurgood Marshall library, 7506 S. Racine Ave.