media – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop Chicago Community Stories Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:31:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Charter waiting list inflation Thu, 04 Apr 2013 22:48:15 +0000 The Chicago Tribune isn’t going to admit error with their claim that 19,000 students are languishing on charter school waiting lists, “yearning” to be free of CPS. But they may not throw the number around with the same panache after WBEZ’s expose.

As Becky Vevea showed, the 19,000 number counts applications, not students — and students typically apply for multiple schools — and it also includes over 3,0000 students who’ve dropped out and are seeking admission to alternative schools.

The Tribune now cites Andrew Broy of the Illinois Charter Schools for the “estimate” (though as Michael Miner points out, they claimed the number as fact in their editorials) , and Broy has regrouped quite nicely.

Wednesday he was saying the real number was probably “around 65 percent” of 19,000, based on his own “spot checks.” Thursday he insisted that 19,000 is a “conservative estimate” — the real number probably higher than that, he now says — since it excludes non-reporting charters and new charters that are just ramping up.

But if families are applying to charters at the same rate they’re applying to selective enrollment and magnet schools — admittedly a big “if,” but they would be if there were such a “yearning” out there — the number of actual students waiting for places is probably closer to 4,000. Vevea’s numbers suggest that for CPS schools requiring applications, there are about four applications from every student.

The number only matters to charter proponents because it’s the only argument they have left, points out Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Reponsible Education.

They used to say that charter schools were needed because students performed better there, she said.  Then research started coming in, and it consistently debunked that claim.  The only argument left was the popular demand for charters supposedly demonstrated by waiting lists.

“The Tribune hit those numbers very hard, as if they’re scientific numbers and they prove the need for more charters,” said Woestehoff.  “It’s like everything else in the corporate reform movement — the numbers are not real. They’re imaginary numbers. And the whole argument falls apart when you scrutinize it.”

In 2008, PURE’s report on charter accountability — in which two-thirds of the city’s charter schools and networks ignored a letter from the attorney general saying they had to respond to the group’s FOIA request — showed that many charters “do not have waiting lists” and “some struggle to keep up their enrollment.”

In fact, as WBEZ reports, CPS says there are currently 3,000 to 5,000 open places in charter schools, and during  last year’s strike, charter groups said a third of the city’s charters had seats available.

What’s most remarkable, as Miner and Steve Rhodes point out, is that while charters could claim 16,000 applications, and maybe more, selective enrollment and magnet schools together boast over 99,000 applications.

What that shows is the opposite of what the Tribune wishes the numbers showed, Woestehoff said: “People really want their kids in public schools, and they’re not very interested in charters.”

Tavis is back — on air and in person Wed, 31 Oct 2012 22:39:56 +0000 The Smiley and West Show, featuring Tavis Smiley and Cornell West, was booted off WBEZ last month, but it’s landed two new homes, Robert Feder reports – a Sunday afternoon show at WCPT AM 820, starting this weekend, and a Saturday morning slot at WVON AM 1690, starting November 10.

WCPT is featuring a “Smiley and West Uncensored” marathon starting Saturday at 10 p.m. and running till Sunday at 7 a.m.

Smiley and West, the radio and TV host and the radical academic who have criticized President Obama’s lack of attention to poverty, will also appear live in Chicago a week from Thursday in a post-election conversation with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!   Among the subjects at hand is the “tsunami of Super PAC-funded negative ads” and the media’s role in “furthering this erosion of our democracy.”

The program takes place Thursday, November 8 at 7 p.m. at Northwestern Law School. 375 E. Chicago, and is free.  It’s sponsored by Haymarket Books, which has published Goodman’s new book, The Silenced Majority.

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Neighborhood sites lead online news innovation Sat, 15 Sep 2012 21:27:15 +0000 The greatest innovation in online news is happening at the neighborhood level, according to The NEW News 2012, the third report on Chicago’s online news ecosystem from the Community Media Workshop.

In a review of hundreds of news sites, those operated by citywide news organizations – and especially TV stations – demonstrated “a remarkable consistency in news judgment,” according to the report

In contrast, the greatest diversity in online approaches and “the biggest diversity of sites, business models, and news presentation” is found in at the neighborhood level, “where online startups compete with weekly newspapers and efforts funded by foundations and nonprofit,” according to Emily Culbertson, co-author of the report.

After culling through hundreds of news sites for audience reach relative to potential audience, Workshop staff rated 191 sites on multiple elements of news quality and community engagement.  The result is a ranking of top sites for citywide news, neighborhood news, specialty news, arts and entertainment, and news aggregators.

(Disclosure: I was one of Workshop staff raters and also contributed a report on online news outlets in the suburban area.)

Top-ranked neighborhood sites included Uptown Update, Chicago Journal, and Center Square Journal.

In a summary of report findings, Culbertson says that use of web and social media tools varies widely, and reader engagement with online news sites overall is infrequent and generally not of high quality.  At citywide sites, it was investigative journalism that lifted some sites above pack journalism.

Three years ago, the first NEW News report found a long-term decline in local news coverage, and the second report in 2010 identified a growing online audience along with challenges in sustaining online news efforts.

Some top-ranked sites from previous reports – like Chi Town Daily News and Windy Citizen – have since gone out of business.

A companion report, Linking Audiences, identifies sites that most consistently link readers with content on other sites as well as the sites that are linked to most frequently.  Both reports were commissioned by the Chicago Community Trust and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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Local reporting Thu, 22 Dec 2011 21:28:25 +0000 New reports from the Local Reporting Initiative of the Chicago Community Trust are up at the Community News Project blog:

Highlighting the settlement Tuesday of a lawsuit requiring the state to help nursing home residents move into their own homes (see above), the Neighborhood Writing Alliance tells the story of one man who recently made the transition, with help from Access Living.

NWA also interviews the director of the only domestic violence program for people with disabilities in the Chicago area.

In These Times reports on “The Poverty of School Reform” and the disconnect between top-down reform models favored by corporate and political leaders and the realities of life in low-income communities.

Illinois Health Matters finds a “gaping chasm” between policymakers implementing health reform and South and West Side residents with serious health issues.

Photojournalist Bill Healy seeks out stories of the residents of Auburn Gresham.

Entre Nostoros, a multimedia blog by Radio Arte, covers Latina youth artists, activists and issues.

The Grassroots Collaborative looks at TIF spending in Chicago and finds that “a program meant to address blight in fact reinforces it” – while it also increases income inequality.

Covering youth violence Fri, 05 Aug 2011 20:09:24 +0000 With WBBM-TV demonstrating how not to do it, Community Media Workshop’s Ethnic Media Project offers suggestions for improving coverage youth violence, including:

  • Encourage young people to speak for themselves, promoting youth-created media to give them the opportunity to do so. Agencies that provide media training for their leaders, for example, can include young people served by the agency as spokespersons.
  • Demand more context in reporting about crime. Ask newspapers and broadcast outlets to devote more resources to covering crime, drawing on sources other than police and prosecutors to look for root causes and to connect individual events to larger public policies. For example, public health sources can help interpret data and speak about prevention efforts. When reporters and editors do a good job, tell them.
  • Encourage communities to ask the deeper questions: who benefits when young people are portrayed as selfish, irresponsible, and violent?
  • Demand that other youth issues—health care, education, employment, leadership, youth organizing, child abuse—receive as much coverage as crime.
  • Be a critical consumer of news coverage. Don’t be swayed by sensationalistic reporting.
  • Challenge the myths of rising youth crime and school violence. Examine statistics and determine the facts. If you see crime coverage that draws erroneous conclusions, speak out.
  • Tap into the potential of youth as a political force. Youth organizing can help youth create a critical mass to challenge media stereotypes.
  • Look for solutions other than incarceration for youth crime. Journalists covering youth crime have an opportunity to publicize such solutions by interviewing youth advocates and even youth themselves.

There’s lots more at the Chicago is the World blog.  There’s a workshop for ethnic media on the subject Saturday morning at the National Museum of Mexican Art.  It’s part of the We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos campaign, an effort to improve reporting on crime in the black and Latino news media.

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Chicago In These Times Wed, 22 Jun 2011 20:38:10 +0000 As a national publication based in Chicago, In These Times often provides better coverage of the local scene than its rivals – but this week’s issue seems particularly noteworthy on that account.

There’s an interview with Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence on why she’s joining the flotilla challenging the Israeli blockade of Gaza later this month; she also shares her views on Libya, Afghanistan, and the proliferation of drone technology.

There’s Kari Lydersen’s article (not yet online) on the growing relationship between steelworkers here and in Mexico, boosted by connections between the century-old Mexican community around Chicago mills and workers in Mexico. Blanca Morales came here from Monterrey when she was five and ended up working at Inland Steel for 25 years; now she’s part of Women of Steel, providing support for Mexican strikers who face brutal retaliation.

Steelworkers here point out that supporting steelworkers in Mexico – where the average manufacturing wage is under $4 an hour – will help “level the playing field” and reduce pressure on wages and working conditions here.

Yana Kunichoff reports on the Unemployed Action Center organized by Chicago Jobs With Justice, which is planning a partnership with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign to fight foreclosures and evictions.

Theo Anderson highlights the work of Protestants for the Common Good, lobbying for legislation to help ex-offenders, and Interfaith Workers Justice, fighting wage theft, as examples of “the re-emergence of the religious left as a powerful political force.”

Stephanie Shonekan of Columbia College shares her reflections on living in Naperville: “We found great neighbors and formed lifelong friendships with people whom I would never have known in my other walks of life.  And the greatest lesson learned has come from the reflections on race inspired by the very acute experience of being a black person in a privileged white neighborhood.”

There are offerings from two of Chicago’s journalistic greats: David Moberg with another go at how unions can save America, and Salim Muwakkil on the controversy over Manning Marable’s new biography of Malcolm X.

Finally there’s Chris Lehmann writing about the depature of Oprah Winfrey from daytime television, and why “the grinding spectacle of Oprah’s farewell felt much more like an infomercial for feeling something, anything, rather than an actual outpouring of human emotion.”

Connect with Local Reporting Initiative Tue, 07 Jun 2011 20:12:28 +0000 The Community News Project website is up and running with a preview of stories being produced through the Local Reporting Initiative of the Chicago Community Trust.  Check it out, bookmark the site – or sign up for e-mail updates or an RSS feed — and stay on top of reports as they are published.

It’s an impressive range of topics from a fascinating range of content producers, from seasoned journalists to community organizations to neighborhood writing groups.

Local Reporting Award grantees will be honored at a reception tomorrow (June 8, 4 to 8 p.m.) following the first day of Community Media Workshop’s Making Media Connections conference at Columbia College’s film center, 1104 S. Wabash.  Grantees will be giving short talks about their reporting projects.

The reception is open to invited guests and to all participants in the Making Media Connections conference.  (Walk-in registrations are welcome on both days of the conference.)

Steve Franklin on Egypt Tue, 15 Mar 2011 21:00:51 +0000 Steve Franklin has lots of stories about the courage and spirt of the journalists, bloggers, and labor and human rights activists he’s worked with in Egypt, and he shares some of them in the current issue of American Prospect.

Franklin, a veteran journalist who heads the Ethnic News Media Project at Community Media Workshop, has been doing trainings in Egypt for several years.  He writes of bloggers exposing brutal police violence, striking workers facing government thugs, and journalists expanding the boundaries of free expression — long before the 18 days that brought down Hosni Mubarak last month.