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NEW NEWS 2012: Tribune, Catalyst, Uptown Update ranked as Chicago’s top online news sites

The Chicago Tribune, Catalyst Chicago, Uptown Update, Time Out Chicago and Chicagoist landed the coveted #1 spots as Chicago’s best online news sites in their respective categories, according to The NEW News 2012 report released by the Community Media Workshop last week. The report ranked 51 online news sites in five categories: Citywide News (#1-Chicago Tribune); Specialty News (Catalyst); Neighborhood News (Uptown Update); Arts, Culture and Entertainment (TimeOut); and Aggregators (Chicagoist).

Key findings among the top-ranked sites include:

  • The greatest diversity in news sites, business models and news presentation is occurring within hyper-local neighborhood news.
  • The increase of online news sites does not mean an increase in the diversity of citywide news coverage. Daily newspapers are still leading for depth of news coverage.
  • Even though social media is used by all top-ranking sites, audience engagement with online news sites is “infrequent, and where it exists, it is not of high quality.”

With the decline of traditional daily newspapers and the emergence of more online news sites and blogs, The NEW News 2012 finds that Chicago’s online news ecosystem continues to grow and change since the release of the first NEW News report in 2009. Since then, at least three prominent Chicago-only news sites have come and gone, but more neighborhood news sites have emerged rapidly attracting audiences.

View the complete list of ranked sites online at chicagonewnews.org. The online report also includes “What I Read” profiles and videos of some Chicago’s leading journalists and communications professionals, an article on the state of suburban news, and a sidebar on ethnic media in the city. Wondering how the top sites received their winning scores? You’ll also find the report’s methodology online.

If you’d like to find contact information for all of these online news sites and more, check out our Chicago media guide. The 2013 version, available in print or online, will be out soon!

Can you reach millions with metro news?

With the rise of online news, traditional news has taken a huge hit in audience and circulation numbers in recent years, but in a major media market like Chicago, it is still the place where, yes, millions of people go for information. Just take a look at these numbers:

Chicago Tribune – 414,590 average daily circulation (includes print and digital)

Chicago Sun-Times – 269,489 average daily circulation (print and digital)

Daily Herald – 99,670 average daily circulation (print and digital)

WBEZ radio – and average of 118,000 listeners per day

There are nearly 3.5 million Chicago households watching television, according to nielsen. (If someone can find me breakdowns for local TV news audiences, please, send those numbers my way!)

And the Workshop’s NEW News 2010 report found that millions of people visit the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times websites each month.

These are still BIG numbers. These numbers are why so many organizations still desperately want that Tribune story or Channel 2 feature. The Workshop knows that while telling our own stories online is vital to the success of our organizations, continuing to mine opportunities to tell a newsworthy story to a larger audience via traditional media is also important. Make your journey through traditional media easier by meeting some of the reporters and producers who can help you place your stories. One of our most popular and well-attended panels each year at the nonprofit communications conference Making Media Connections is the Metro News panel. Join us this year to hear from Cate Cahan, WBEZ; Madeleine Doubek, Daily Herald; David Schalliol, Gapers Block; and Deidra White, CBS-2.

Hear from the reporters and editors themselves about the types of stories they’re looking for, when to pitch them, and how they prefer to be contacted. Chicago is a big media market, and pitching traditional media can be tricky. This panel will give you useful tips that might make the difference between a successful pitch and one that flops. We hope to see you at Making Media Connections 2012!

An essential resource for every Chicago nonprofit and grassroots group… download it here

When I was a communications staff for a regional nonprofit organization here in Chicago over 10 years ago, I spent plenty of time calling and faxing city news desks and assignment desks very early in the day of an event or press conference to ensure that we were included in their agenda. Through this on-going communication and development of relationships with assignment desk editors I found out what times they were meeting, what information they needed and exactly who would be possibly covering our story or event. This practice got us coverage, helped expand our relationships with the media and pushed our mission forward to the public. Read the rest of this entry »

Print has a future

Reporter Tara Malone and Publishers Mary Gavin and Susan Noyes spoke at a Meet the Press forum we co-sponsored with Evanston Public Library yesterday (more pictures at the Community Media Workshop Facebook page)

Used to be, questions at a meet the press panel sponsored by the Workshop focused on how to reach the journalists and how to pitch them.

Yesterday we held a communications strategy and Meet the Press forum at the Evanston Public Library and we had some of that, but more questions were about the future of the news and how the panelists were experiencing changes in the business. One takeaway: print’s not dead yet.

Our panel featured:

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board on Facebook

Chicago Tribune editorial board - pic

Chicago Tribune editorial board - pic

Facebook profile pic

Facebook profile pic

So social media communicator par excellence Nicole Gotthelf of Center for Neighborhood Technology tells me the Chicago Tribune editorial board has its own facebook page!

Now of course you already know the editorial board is the group of journalists who decide the paper’s official positions on matters of public policy (you remember what Mark Twain said: “Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we). Read the rest of this entry »

Tribune’s Chicago best blogs, vital signs for metro news

Hey, The Chicago Tribune has a feature running on their home page for Chicago’s best blogs. Come on, you know you want to nominate CMW! For npcommunicator, or Curtis Black’s Newstips blog… or both!

I just found it because I was looking for a web version of a “wrapper” that came on this morning’s home delivery Tribune discussing some tweaks to the print edition and reiterating the paper’s “mission.” That’s a promising sign.

Less promising: In an article in The Atlantic, writer Michael Hirschorn envisions the question “[W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” (thanks, Kevin Taglang at Benton Foundation). 

It reminds me of what we see again and again with smaller news outlets: at the margins, news publishing is thriving… but metro news is just taking a tremendous beating. Another way to say that is, anyone can do news and eke out a living, but big bucks are hard to come by. That’s how the news business started in this country. It’s hard to believe that’s what we would go back to.

Bad for business good for news

In a  week with a bankruptcy, a corrupt governor, a global story about workers and the financial bailout, where do you start? It’s almost too good to be true!

Tribune Co. bankruptcy is bizarre… but it’s more about the news business than the news. Yes, we may quibble about what it looks like and what stories end up in the paper (my personal least favorite from my local Tribune this week is a magazine article noting that Logan Square is “hot.” Still? Just now? Again?) Anyway, we may not always agree with our editors’ choices but would still lose big time  if pro journalists, who go find stuff that they think we all need to know, to fade away.

As Vincent Duffy, news director of Michigan Radio, said at a panel discussion in Flint last week, “You can’t yet get a computer to actually stick a microphone in [Flint] Mayor Williamson’s face … I don’t know how you’re going to hear the news in the future but you are going to hear us [journalists] reporting.” Also on the bankruptcy, remember that the Chicago Reader declared bankruptcy a few months back and they are still publishing fine.

A quick side note on the news business, crucial to remember when you think about the model: ethnic and community news outlets are doing fine! So before we go to thinking about the death of news, let’s celebrate the kind of journalism that makes a governor try to knock out a Tribune editorial board member (if John McCormick does not get a raise out of this, it’s a shame–bankruptcy or no) and raise up our community and ethnic news outlets, like this morning’s story (quoting, ahem, me).

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