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Focus group 
methodology

We decided the best way to gauge trends and assumptions about news users, our region’s information needs, and news-business successes and challenges was to work with on an audience we feel is particularly relevant but not particularly well-represented in the larger discussion about where local news is headed.

We focused on how changes in the news business affect communities, arts and culture, and other aspects of public life and to discuss the topic with leaders of area nonprofit organizations that offer often-untapped expertise on this topic: leaders of nonprofit organizations working on the broadest possible range of issues, of all budget sizes and types, from emerging organizations to agencies whose founding dates to the 19th century.

We took advantage of The Chicago Community Trust’s breadth of philanthropic support in the region by organizing our invitees around the Trust’s program areas:

Arts and Culture

Basic Human Needs

Community Development

Education

Health

We used the Trust’s 2007 annual report to identify funded organizations in these program areas.1 Then we crossed that with organizations with which Community Media Workshop already had a relationship (the vast majority), and invited 92 mostly executive directors and senior communications or development staff. These invites yielded 4 focus groups with a total of 33 participants held April 7, April 9, April 14, and April 16 in a conference room on Columbia College Chicago’s campus.

Because we wanted to dive right into the content and to give participants some tangible benefits for attending, we began by presenting some of our news keyword findings (described in the chapter “How Did We Get Here?”) and gave them copies of our online news publication list in formation. Following the discussions and to satisfy our need to complete a business plan for Community Media Workshop’s own online news efforts, our consultants Mark Miller and Bob Yovovich led a discussion and sought feedback on plans for that effort.

Discussion Guide

PART I: Establish participants’ relationship/connection to local news

1. How much have you been following the troubles of the news business?

2. Talk a bit about your personal news habits:

a. How do you get your news? TV/newspaper-paper/newspaper-online?/what sources?

b. Would you say you use online news: not-at-all/for local news/for national news?

c. Which of these do you recognize/visit (hand out list of online news sources and URLs)

PART II: Focus on participants’ organizations relation to the news

1. Please tell us what your general experience is with getting news coverage about:

a. The issues you work on

b. Your organization’s work

2. How has this changed in recent years?

3. Talk about your capacity to spread the word about your organization/your issues?

a. High/medium/low/very low

4. Please tell us what your general experience is with using
social media/integrating online tools to spread the word about:

a. The issues you work on

a. Your organization’s work

Part III: Focus on what participants would like to see (the news we want and need)

1. It’s been suggested that the Internet brings iwth it a
Do-It-Yourself way of doing things (DIY travel, DIY banking,
DIY desktop publishing). How ready are you for DIY news?

2. DIY model—using the powerful tools of online communications.

3. Final comments/ thoughts?

1 Downloadable at cct.org/FileDownload.cfm?file=2007%5FAnnualReport%5FComplete%2Epdf Accesssed March 25, 2009

Focus group participants

We’d like to thank the following who gave thoughtful and insightful answers to our questions:

NAME

DATE

TITLE

ORG

SUBJECT

ROLE

Randy Adamsick

7-Apr

Development Director

National Museum of Mexican Art

Arts

Participant

Mairead Case

7-Apr

Assistant Director

Neighborhood Writing Alliance

Arts

Participant

Deb Clapp

7-Apr

Executive Director

League of Chicago Theaters

Arts

Participant

David Jones

7-Apr

Executive Director

Anchor Graphics

Arts

Participant

Dave Judy

7-Apr

Director of Communications

Kohl Children’s Museum

Arts

Participant

Jon Pounds

7-Apr

Executive Director

Chicago Public Art Group

Arts

Participant

Katherine Raz

7-Apr

Community Manager

House Theater

Arts

Participant

Alex Montgomery

9-Apr

Director of Communications and Development

Erie Neighborhood House

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Sally Puleo

9-Apr

Program Associate

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois

Community Development

Participant

Dory Rand

9-Apr

Executive Director

Woodstock Institute

Community Development

Participant

Bernie Ryan

9-Apr

Director of Development

Harborquest,Inc

Community Development

Participant

Gaill Schechter

9-Apr

Executive Director

Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs

Community Development

Participant

Joanna VanderWoude

9-Apr

Media Relations Associate

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Johnathon Briggs

14-Apr

Director of Communications

AIDS Foundation of Chicago

Health

Participant

Elizabeth Condon

14-Apr

Development and Communications Associate

Leap Learning Systems

Education

Participant

Lynne Cunningham

14-Apr

Executive Director

The Enterprising Kitchen

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Sarah Frick

14-Apr

Public Relations Officer

Chicago YWCA

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Robyn Gabel

14-Apr

Executive Director

Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition

Health

Participant

Patricia Gross

14-Apr

Executive Director

Metro Chicago Information Center

Health

Participant

Margaret Stapleton

14-Apr

Senior Attorney

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Hope Daniels

16-Apr

Professor

Columbia College Chicago

N/A

Observer

Gail Fuller

16-Apr

Communications Officer

Rockefeller Bros Fund

N/A

Observer

Jennifer Lacey

16-Apr

Grad Student

Columbia College Chicago

N/A

Observer

Charlie Meyerson

16-Apr

Columnist – Daywatch

Chicago Tribune

N/A

Observer

Jeff Bierig

16-Apr

Director of Media Relations

Illinois Institute of Technology

N/A

Participant

Debbie Bretag

16-Apr

Executive Director

Illinois Center for Violence Provention

N/A

Participant

Jo Ann Dollard

16-Apr

Director of Communications
& Public Relations

Lutheran Social Services

N/A

Participant

Nicole Gotthelf

16-Apr

Director of Development

Center for Neighborhood Technology

Community Development

Participant

Mary Lazarikos

16-Apr

Marketing and Communications Manager

Community Support Services

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Mary Lebold

16-Apr

Executive Director

Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium

N/A

Participant

David Marzahl

16-Apr

Executive Director

The Center for Economic Progress

Community Development

Participant

Sheila Rotman

16-Apr

Dir. of Marketing &
Communications

Albany Park Community Center

N/A

Participant

Katty Salgado

16-Apr

Director of Communications

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Basic Human Needs

Participant

Mark Miller

All

Consultant

550 Plus Digital

N/A

Observer

Bob Yovovich

All

Consultant

550 Plus Digital

N/A

Observer

Category: Article, Chapter 3

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