For the first time in 11 years, the Chicago Journalism Town Hall was brought back to the forefront as a way for media pros to talk about today’s industry issues. Held on Feb. 23 at the Allegro Hotel, the event featured panelists from well-known media outlets: The Crusader, NBC, WTTW News, TriiBe, the Chicago Sun-Times, MTV and many others. A variety of hot topics were covered including: reporters competing for the same news and putting out redundant stories and journalists not understanding that “diversity” means more than just young people. Did you know that 70-75% of digital media is controlled by Facebook and Google? Well, that topic was on the table too, and it’s the biggest threat to the Chicago Tribune and other news organizations right now.
The most memorable moment of the event was when a young woman by the name of Sade Carpenter unexpectedly demanded the entire town hall’s attention by storming the stage, grabbing Dometi Pongo’s (MTV) microphone and speaking with fiery passion about her less-than-positive experience as a former deputy editor at the Chicago Tribune.
“Traditional and legacy media are these institutions that uphold systems of oppression, and we cannot thrive in them as Black people, as people of color, as women, as disabled people, as queer people. They don’t trust us to know our own communities and tell our own stories,” said Carpenter.
Dorothy Leavell (Chicago Crusader) even took the opportunity to call out Chris Fusco (Chicago Sun-Times) for supporting the DNAinfo publication that was Black-based, but not Black owned nor did it represent the Black community.
If anything, the town hall gave the city’s media pros a new platform. If journalists want to bring about change, they need to be honest about the bad and create solutions. They need to tell the truth about what’s happening. That’s what good journalism is all about anyway, right?
By Marilyn Koonce, Northern Illinois University Alumna