True Star Visits Block Club Chicago

Dawn Rhodes, senior editor at Block Club Chicago, talks to True Star participants during a recent visit to the publication. / Photo: Cierra Lemott

It’s not every day you get to visit the newsroom of one of the emerging publications in the Chi, but when you work for True Star,  opportunities like these are made possible.

On Dec. 7, True Star youth from across the city got the chance to visit Block Club Chicago, “a nonprofit news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods,” according to its website.

Located in Downtown, Chicago, their newsroom overlooks the Chicago River and other beautiful downtown scenery.

This amazing opportunity was made possible through True Star’s partnership with NABJ Chicago and their Roadshow program.

James Gardner Jr., a member of True Star’s BBF podcast team, asks a question to the Block Club Chicago staff members. / Photo: Cierra Lemott

True Star participants from our journalism, podcast, design, and editing teams got to meet with industry professionals actively working in the journalism field to discuss being content creators. Dawn Rhodes, Block Club’s senior editor, introduced us to members of her team which included reporters such as Jamie Golden, Ariel Parrella, and Atavia Reed, as well as Melissa Espana, the organization’s social media editor.

Photo: Davander Shumer

The most interactive part of the trip was when students came up with story ideas relating to things that they’d seen in their neighborhoods. Food deserts and sports culture were two of the topics suggested by the TS crew.

Addressing the often-overlooked aspect of mental health in the news industry, Rhodes said, “It’s okay to take breaks… it’s okay to put it down.” The Block Club Chicago team acknowledged the demanding nature of journalism and encouraged aspiring reporters to prioritize their mental well-being. This discussion aimed to destigmatize taking breaks and seeking support, promoting a healthier approach to a challenging profession.

The insights shared by Block Club Chicago’s crew of journalists serve as a beacon for aspiring reporters, offering a glimpse into the vibrant world of Chicago journalism. From workplace culture, to overcoming challenges, and prioritizing mental health, the advice from these professionals served as important lessons for the up-and-coming teens and young adults of the True Star Media program.

True Star Media at Block Club Chicago. / Photo: Cierra Lemott

Overall, it was an exciting and fun-filled visit. Could there be a possible collab in the future for True Star and Block Club Chicago? Only time will tell, but keep checking with us to find out.


By Cierra Lemott, Senior, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera

X: @LemottCierra


Whitney Young sophomore Davander Shumaker contributed to this article. / Instagram: @vanderrboo


True Star Media’s content is made possible thanks to donors like you. By donating at you are helping to empower young creators and transform lives.

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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