#PublicNewsroom FAQ

What is the Public Newsroom?

Every Thursday night we turn our Woodlawn office into an open space where journalists and the public can gather to discuss local issues, share resources and knowledge and learn to report and investigate stories in partnership with Build Coffee. We bring in guest speakers and host workshops on things like how to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain government records, how to find and analyze public data and how to tell your own audio/video stories—in addition to hands-on presentations, we'll be exploring issues ranging from narratives in media to culture + art and any number of ideas relevant to Chicago and the nation at-large.

For working journalists, the public newsroom is a place to find and shape stories in direct conversation with readers. For the public, the newsroom is a front-row seat into how journalism gets made, and a chance to impact the way your community is covered in the media.

The Public Newsroom is always free, always open to the public.

For more information, or to schedule a Public Newsroom workshop, contact City Bureau Community Director Andrea Hart: andrea@citybureau.org.

What do I get out of the Public Newsroom?

We see three big reasons to stop by and engage with our space:

  1. Journalism can be more responsive to your needs. The Public Newsroom will build communication and trust between journalists and readers. In-person feedback and conversation can improve reporting in a way online commenting never could. At the same time, we’ll give residents a better public understanding of the power and limitations of journalism.

  2. A more inclusive newsroom benefits everyone. Without getting too grandiose about it, we think the creation of spaces like this could have a deep, long-term impact on American journalism. We're breaking down barriers to bring diverse perspectives into newsrooms. Even if you don’t personally come (though you should!), everybody benefits when there are more voices in the room.

  3. You get an extra watchdog in the neighborhood. Every month there are dozens of meetings and public events that only a handful of people attend, but where important decisions are made. By hiring Community Documenters to record public events, and bringing them together in the Public Newsroom, we can quickly expand the number of eyes and ears we have on the ground, creating better public oversight for everyone.

Who's presented in the past?

November 3, 2016: Writer, poet and Chicago-based sociologist Eve Ewing on media narratives and reporters can responsibly cover marginalized communities. (Facebook Live)

November 17, 2016: Chaclyn Hunt of the Invisible Institute on how, when and why you should file Freedom of Information Act request.

December 1, 2016: Chicago Reader critic Leor Galil on covering music, art and culture.

December 15, 2016: Invisible Institute staff preview new data on police use of force in Chicago.

January 19, 2017: WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton on her recent hour-long radio special, "The View from Room 205". (Facebook Live)

February 2, 2017: Chicago Reader reporter Maya Dukmasova on covering public housing in Chicago.

February 9, 2017: DataMade's Jean Cochrane and Hannah Cushman on data journalism 101.

February 16, 2017: Independent journalists Adeshina Emmanuel and Jamie Kalven with attorney Sheila Bedi on decoding Chicago's police union contract.

March 16, 2017: Micheal Block, programmer on We Are Chicago video game, and Ashlyn Sparrow, of Game Changer Design Lab, on games as storytelling. 

March 23, 2017: Google facilitator Mike Reilley presents a day-long workshop on Google Tools. (Storify)

March 30, 2017: Interactive Podcasting with People-Powered Publishing Fellow Jordan Wirfs-Brock and Illinois Humanities.

April 6, 2017: Building digital communities to influence your newsroom with Angilee Shah of Public International Radio.

April 13, 2017: On "city-engineered conflict" with University of Illinois at Chicago professor David Stovall. (Storify)

April 20, 2017: Chicago Police in Chicago Public Schools with City Bureau alum Yana Kunichoff, VOYCE, COFI, Mikva Challenge and Public Narrative. (Storify)

April 27, 2017: How we report on immigration and asylum seekers with reporters from 90 Days, 90 Voices. (Medium)

May 4, 2017: Chicago's newest publication for and by black millennials, The TRiiBE, screen their latest film "Another Life"—a docupoetry series on trauma and life in Chicago after violence. (Storify)

May 11, 2017: Englewood-based photographer Tonika Johnson on shifting narratives, challenging stereotypes and "who tells the story of Englewood." (Medium 1) (Medium 2)

May 25, 2017: Scrappers Film Group presents a rough cut of "Closing de Facto," the group's latest documentary on the crisis at Chicago State University—in partnership with City Bureau and Illinois Humanities at the Chicago Cultural Center 

June 8, 2017: City Bureau's Spring 2017 West Side reporting fellows host "Reimagining the Industrial West Side" at Inspiration Kitchens in Austin—a hands-on workshop with West Side residents culminating in an archival report with Read/Write Library. (Website) (*Visit Read/Write Library to view our printed report*)

June 15, 2017: (Chicago treasure) Dr. Timuel Black and author/educator Audrey Petty host a conversation on the art of oral history. (Medium)

June 22, 2017: City Bureau Documenters Orientation.

June 29, 2017: Former New York Times Survey Editor Marjorie Connelly breaks down the art of polling before and after the 2016 election.

July 6, 2017: Tom Tresser, founder of The CivicLab joins us for a primer and deep dive into the past, present and future of Chicago's Tax Increment Finance system. (Audio) (Slideshow)

July 13, 2017: Independent journalist Adeshina Emmanuel and City Bureau co-founder Darryl Holliday present City Bureau's #FOPtracker website along with new reporting from Emmanuel on Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police for In These Times.

July 20, 2017: Detroit-based journalist and Outlier Media founder Sarah Alvarez explores Chicago public service request data for a deep dive into "what the city wants covered" via Freedom of Information Act requests.

July 27, 2017: The Center for Investigative Reporting's Stan Alcorn stops by from the West Coast for a workshop on audio storytelling courtesy of CIR's Reveal podcast team.

August 3, 2017: We explore the challenges and opportunities in Chicago's Spanish-language media landscape in partnership with Yollocalli, with Maricela Garcia, Jessica Fernandez of Univision, Franky Piña of El Beisman, Jesus del Toro of La Raza, and Rocio Santos of Vocalo.

August 10, 2017: The Chicago Architecture Foundation's Gabriel Lyon brings her organization's civic-oriented graphic novel "Make No Small Plans" to the Public Newsroom to discuss the role of civic engagement in the city.

August 24, 2017: Val Free, Executive Director of The Planning Coalition, speaks on the dynamic community activism that reflects her passion for building strong communities at "Organizing Human Capital on the South Side"

August 31, 2017: Chicago media is in a moment of transition—so we brought together journalists Scott Smith, Sheila Solomon and Blanca Rios and the public together to talk the successes, failures and needs for a thriving local media ecosystem (Audio) (Blog post)

September 14, 2017: One month ago, we hosted The CivicLab at our Public Newsroom for a primer on Chicago's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund. Today, we invite them back to follow up with a deep dive into the latest city-issued TIF report. (Data)

September 21, 2017: Join City Bureau Summer 2017 fellows, Jenny Simeone-Casas, Sarah Conway and Resita Cox, for a discussion of what role community can play in alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system. (Read the team's latest piece)

October 5, 2017: This week’s Public Newsroom is dedicated to unpacking child welfare in Illinois from various sides of the issue—including understanding family’s rights, trauma and more—co-designed by Illinois Humanities and Kaleidoscope. (Audio)

October 12, 2017: How do we ensure local media that is committed to the public is also supported by the public? Join us and the Membership Puzzle for a unique chance to give feedback on our newly launched membership program—The Press Club.

October 19, 2017: Jenn Stanley walks us through the basics of reporting on reproductive rights with a focus on abortion. Stanley is the senior staff reporter at Rewire. (Audio)

October 26, 2017: How does the Chicago Police Department track its information, and why does it matter? The team behind the Citizens Police Data Project (CPDP) invites you to dig into their working prototypes and explore a new world of data about police interactions with the public in Chicago. (explore CPDP)

November 2, 2017: The Soap Box Ball! (Get your tickets) (Photos from the event)

November 16, 2017: City Bureau Documenters Training: Social Media

November 30, 2017: Carl West, founder of TBTnews, explains how his daily South Side-based newsletter grew from 2,000 subscribers in 2010 to 65,000 subscribers today.

December 7, 2017: City Bureau co-founder and Chicago magazine digital editor Bettina Chang hosts a frank "Ask Me Anything" workshop on newsroom transparency, the role of the news editor and the future of news media. (Audio)

December 14, 2017: As part of their popular education series, People's Lobby USA will lead a discussion on the racial and economic injustice of pre-trial money bail in the Circuit Court of Cook County through first-person role playing as a court watcher. 

December 21, 2017: City Bureau's Fall Reporting Fellows Lee Gaines, Bashirah Mack and Charles Preston have been digging into Medicaid, state health care policy and the current Illinois budget impasse, and we invite you to join us for a community-centered dialogue about how Illinois arrived at this point and how people can access the resources that are readily available. (Twitter thread) (Worksheet) (Article)

January 11, 2018: What does it look like to have a youth-led newsroom centered around solutions journalism? Our partners at Free Spirit Media's Real Chi Youth program are hosting a Public Newsroom takeover this week. Join us at FSM's headquarters, the Homan Square. (Video Livestream)

January 18, 2018: With input from City Bureau, the Center for Media Engagement surveyed a representative sample of 900 Chicagoans to explore the attitudes toward, and preferences for, Chicago news media across three regions—and we'll present this new study live. (Twitter thread


How do I get to the Public Newsroom?

The newsroom is open every Thursday from 6-8p at Build Coffee (directly next door to our newsroom).


We’re located at 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. at our home-away-from-home, the Experimental Station in Woodlawn.

Want to continue the conversation?