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What kind of news do we want?

One reason there has not been much posted here over the past 10 weeks or so is that we’ve been busy pulling together a report on the state of local online news in Chicago, The NEW News: Journalism We Want and Need for The Chicago Community Trust. It’s not about how to pay for local news, but why we pay for it–and about who’s doing what online in Chicago.

It’s the first time anyone we know of has tried to assemble a report quite like it, that combines a directory of who’s doing what, some thoughts about where local print and online news is actually at in terms of coverage, and some thoughts on the kind of news we want. Some key thoughts:

  • There’s less local news in the newspaper, these days, but no guarantee that online news publications will do any better.
  • Online news publications will need to adopt some of the characteristics of local news—include news vetted by editors, copy editors, etc., select stories that both entertain and inform their audiences, and perhaps most importantly that they create a forum for one conversation, a universal feature that is hard to arrive at on the Internet, which drives us toward so many unique, small, even idiosyncratic news sources.
  • Assembling such a report in such a short period of time (we surveyed producers of more than 80 online news publications, looked for trends in local news coverage in the Tribune and Sun-Times over 20 years—mostly, it’s declined, and conducted focus groups with nonprofit community leaders) was a job of work.

Our main goal was to add a different note to the conversation about how to save news… for audiences that are able to hear it. It will be too bad if the folks we respect and admire in metropolitan newsrooms are unable to take it in or get much benefit from the research.

One columnist’s take
Shame on me for not living up to my own spokesperson training rules: I spent two hours explaining all this to Phil Rosenthal, Tribune media columnist, explaining what we did and did not find about local online news in Chicago, to wind up reading a column this morning in which he says he thinks the whole project was waste of time. Now why am I surprised?

Obviously you can read his column here, and draw your own conclusions, but he seems to have wound up feeling that everything is fine in the news business so why don’t we just keep things the way they are. Hello? Shouldn’t have to explain to the media columnist, why the status quo is unworkable (our study does not focus on the news business’ money problems but they are obviously a sign that things need to change).

Find out for yourself… download your own copy here.

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Category: Journalists, News Business, news future, Uncategorized

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One Response

  1. […] the Net Tuesday kick-off, we had a preview of a new report that Community Media Workshop is unveiling: The New News: journalism we want and need. This […]

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