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Coming soon: NEW News 2012

Here at the Workshop we’re anticipating a busy but incredibly educational summer: we are starting work on NEW News 2012, thanks to the funding of The Chicago Community Trust. As you may recall, we published rankings of online news sites in 2009 and then a list of online news outlets in 2010. We intend to return to rankings in 2012, learning from our original criteria, the changes in the field, and from an advisory board we are assembling to help guide us as we think through our work.

Over the next few days, we will be sharing with you some of the key issues we’re wrestling with as we start this project. We will likely return with a follow-up blog post or two in June or July. Our hope is that you, our readers, will share any concerns or questions you have, and suggestions for how we might do this better.

Some key changes we’re already envisioning for 2012’s NEW News:

  • We’ll rank entire publications or news organizations, not breaking out the individual reporters or bloggers that are part of those organizations separately. In prior years, we’d list or rank several bloggers from a single organization (think Lynn Sweet or Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times). This year, we are switching our focus to organizations. We anticipate this may raise some additional challenges. If you are a small news startup or solo news blogger, this shouldn’t affect you too much.
  • We will not use self-reported data to measure site traffic. Truth is, getting accurate traffic numbers from external sources is challenging, but relying upon data we didn’t collect is even more problematic. In a future post, we’ll talk about our alternatives and get your input on how we measure traffic and how much importance we should place on it.
  • We will not rank sites or publishers whose audiences are primarily based outside of the City of Chicago. This reflects a time and resource issue on our part. While the Internet may be worldwide, most readers’ news interests are very local. The reduction of beat reporters and newspaper coverage of local issues was a primary motivation for The NEW News research. Seismic shifts are going on in online news in Chicago’s suburbs, and we hope to touch on those shifts in a sidebar to the main report.
  • Along with rating the quantity and quality of a site’s news production, we will assess the ways in which the site creates community that advances a better-informed and more engaged citizenry. Look for our ideas—and our eagerness to hear your thoughts on this front—in a blog post later this summer.

We anticipate releasing our research at the Block by Block Conference, taking place in September at Loyola University.

What are your thoughts and suggestions as we begin this project? Please comment below.

Know a site we should consider? Comment here.

Have thoughts about how we’ll measure online reach? Comment here.


$42,000 distributed to 15 lucky nonprofits

Michael Pink (left), principal of MAP Real Estate, and Bill Lowry (right) of The Chicago Community Trust, award $10,000 to nonprofit Community Shares

Over 150 members of Chicago’s nonprofit and business communities turned out on October 25th to celebrate a new kind of philanthropy. Two socially responsible Chicago institutions–Urban Partnership Bank and the social enterprise Investing In Communities–teamed up, one as event host and one as donor, to give $42,000 to nonprofits.

The $42,000 in funds resulted from a real estate transaction between an established commercial real estate firm, MAP Real Estate, and Urban Partnership Bank (UPB), a new FDIC-insured community bank and certified Community Development Financial Institution. Investing In Communities (IIC) enables individuals and businesses to connect with socially conscious real estate professionals and generate free funding for their favorite nonprofits.  As an IIC Member, MAP Real Estate’s principal Michael Pink committed 15 percent of the commission he earned representing UPB in a lease transaction for donation, through IIC, to other nonprofits. Through IIC, this ordinary brokered transaction became a philanthropic event that generated unrestricted funding for 15 nonprofit beneficiaries. Read the rest of this entry »

Join us at an event celebrating nonprofits

Investing In Communities® is giving away $42,000 to nonprofits through a random drawing at Urban Partnership Bank‘s grand opening of its new nonprofit financial center and micro-branch. The Community Media Workshop is pleased to be working with these organizations to spread the word about the drawing and the event.

If you’re a nonprofit, these are two organizations you should know about. Join us at this free event to learn more about how Urban Partnership Bank and Investing In Communities can be resources to your organization. You’ll also hear from special guest Bill Lowry of The Chicago Community Trust during the short program.

Where: Urban Partnership Bank’s new branch and nonprofit financial center 55 East Jackson, Chicago

When: October 25, 2011, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Special Guest: Bill Lowry, The Chicago Community Trust

Complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

To RSVP for this free event, please reply to Lowell Simpson at or 773-420-5136. Deadline to RSVP is this Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Email Investing In Communities at or call 312-955-4900 to learn more about the organization and the drawing. (The deadline for next week’s drawing has passed, but by becoming a nonprofit partner of Investing In Communities, your organization could be eligible for these kinds of funds down the road.)

For additional information about Urban Partnership Bank and its downtown nonprofit financial center, contact Justin Block at 773-420-4678, or visit


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