How did we 
get here?

Many observers of today’s news business twists and turns start their historical overviews of the development of new online news publications in the late 15th century. That’s when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, ushering in an era of print innovation that prefigured the changes wrought on our society by the advent of social media. Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in a widely published opinion piece, advanced succinctly the comparison between the rise of social media and the advent of print:

Before Gutenberg, the monks copied illustrated manuscripts and were the keepers of information. Long after Gutenberg, during the Renaissance, society more or less figured out how to handle information. Today we are again living in those uncertain in-between years, when Gutenberg’s technology broke the old rules and allowed something new called literacy.1

The economic trauma our major news outlets are experiencing—such as the bankruptcy of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times—masks some of the real trends affecting local news. These trends suggest online news publications are likely to supplement, not replace these news outlets. However, a lack of local news is a real concern online news publications may help alleviate. Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s doing what online?

We found that change was the only constant as we compiled this list of the most innovative online news publications in the Chicago region. Even as we were tallying survey responses and creating the final list, new ventures were launching. Lake Effect News, with the aim to cover communities once dominated by Lerner Newspapers, debuted in May. So did the Mindful Metropolis, which rose from the dead pages of alternative monthly Conscious Choice. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune was readying its ChicagoNow blog network for release in late May, with the aim to encompass 80 blogs by the end of the year.

Read the rest of this entry »

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