Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Affordable one-day multimedia training conference in SF, CA

Renaissance Journalism will hold its next LearningLAB event, a one-day multimedia training conference, on Friday, January 11, 2013, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., on the San Francisco State University campus.

Registration fee is $25  (Space is limited).

This event offers an opportunity to learn digital storytelling skills and to hear about best practices, free tools and social media strategies from leading experts in Web journalism.

The 2013 conference will feature a selection workshops organized around three broad themes: multimedia storytelling, social media and community engagement, and “hot topics,” those important—and often polarizing—issues that have a profound impact on our communities (e.g. immigration, poverty in America, health reform).

More info:
Web Site:
Registration Page:

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Friday, November 2, 2012

McCormick Journalism Program launches News Literacy collaborative

Friday, November 02, 2012

by Ashlei Williams, Robert R. McCormick Communications intern

Got news literacy? On October 24, the McCormick Foundation Journalism Program and Midwest Journalism Education Initiative (MJEI) gathered representatives from 10 secondary education schools and organizations to consider this question. Over the next seven months, the first collaborative news literacy project will be conducted to help student journalists and young news consumers apply critical thinking skills to media.

The foundation recently announced plans for a three-year, $6 million initiative, called “Why News Matters,” to expand innovative approaches to improving news literacy. In the initial round of this three-year program, the foundation will award more than $1 million in grants to 11 organizations to enhance news literacy skills and programs in Chicago.

MJEI works with leading organizations in the identification and development of resources to enhance the practice of journalism and media instruction. MJEI is leading the collaborative project that is funded by the foundation. Project participants include: Bartlett High School, Benito Juarez Community Academy, Downers Grove North High School, Elk Grove High School, Free Spirit Media, Oak Park-River Forest High School, Perspectives Math and Science Academy, Roberto Clemente High School, Rolling Meadows High School and Wheeling High School.

“The goal of the project is to provide reporting that is accountable, verifiable and independent of bias,” said Stan Zoller, director of MJEI.

Zoller is developing the curriculum for the project that is based on Stony Brook University’s news literacy course. At the initial meeting, he explained that the students participating will be expected to do investigative reporting on a specific issue. Teachers and advisors brainstormed on topics ranging from the depletion of vocational courses to equipping ELL students for advanced placement opportunities.

After students have also suggested topics, the reporting theme will be selected in December. Production will take place from January to March. In April, Zoller will reconvene with teachers and advisors for a project summary. The students’ work will be published on an established website in May.

“You guys (teachers) are pioneers for doing this,” said Clark Bell, director of McCormick Journalism Program. “This is something that can be and should be replicated nationally.”

Bell said that from this pilot project the foundation hopes to host a national conference on news literacy in 2014 and a showcase for related projects in 2015.

Read the full story

News Literacy Project visits Associated Press Chicago

Friday, November 02, 2012

By Sahar Alchammae, Robert R. McCormick Communications intern

Among journalists there is an old joke about fact-checking all sources, even one’s own mother. It is this message of skepticism that staff at Chicago’s Associated Press bureau shared with student journalists from Northside College Prep High School who were on a News Literacy Project field trip.

On October 17, the editorial team of The Hoofbeat, Northside College Prep’s school newspaper, was challenged to consider the question “how do you know?” Two AP staff members introduced the news organization, explaining its history and its role in providing content to media outlets. Next, they shared how the 2006 Sago mine collapse was misreported by numerous reputable publications. This example showed the students the importance validating facts.

During the closing question and answer segment, the students asked if social media is a useful source for reporting. One AP staffer responded by explaining that Twitter was a valuable tool when she was reporting on an emergency plane landing. She explained that social media can be used as a way to listen for trends and to discover sources but should not be considered a primary news source.

After the session, the students were provided with lunch and the opportunity to workshop story ideas with staffers.

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2012 C-LINKS cohort graduates with special honor

Friday, November 02, 2012

by Ashlei Williams, Robert R. McCormick Communications intern

Becoming an adult is some people’s biggest regret. But for the 23 teenagers involved in the 2012 Columbia College Chicago’s Columbia Links summer program not being able to grow up is their greatest fear.

For six weeks, the teens took multimedia courses based on the student-selected topic of violence. Veteran journalists lectured on Basic Reporting, Investigative/Multimedia Reporting and Special Reporting. Since 2006, C-LINKS has built expertise, relationships, skills and opportunities that connect students, teachers and volunteers through media.

“Ellyn was my mentor and she was really there with me the whole time,” said Lileana Moore, a student at Northside College Prep. “If there was a problem I ran into, I could email her or call her and talk to her and work it out.”

Family members, mentors and Columbia College Chicago staff in the audience of C-LINKS graduation. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

On August 30, a graduation ceremony was held at Columbia College’s Collins Hall to celebrate the C-LINKS community’s work. Facing the audience of delighted family members, proud mentors and blushing students Brenda Butler, executive director of C-LINKS, led the presentation of the 2012 cohort’s compilation of letters and essays, “Don’t Shoot. I Want to Grow Up.”

Brenda Butler speaks about C-LINKS. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

Moore’s article on CeaseFire, the Chicago organization made up of ex-gang members who advocate against gun violence, was highlighted in the presentation. Moore explained that while reporting she was able to travel with one of the CeaseFire members to the scene of a shooting. Such real-world experiences contributed to the journalism skills and knowledge that students gained.

“At my school the News Literacy Project came to our World Studies class and kind of talked to us so I had an experience knowing you need to check out the credibility of sources,” Moore said. “But this program really helped me to solidify that because I really had to be checking all of the things that I was finding through my research and making sure that I was using the right sources.”

Lileana Moore, a student at Northside College Prep. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

Before students were granted their certificates and status as C-LINKS alumni, Laura Washington, of the Chicago Sun-Times and Channel 7, addressed the crowd with as the keynote speaker. Washington provided 10 tips of advice to the graduates such as supporting advocacy journalism, using discretion and exploding myths. Washington’s closing comments about showing gratitude can be seen by clicking on the video below.

Laura Washington speaks to the graduates. Click here for video. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

After Washington’s speech, each student filed up to the podium to receive their credentials from Nancy Day, chair of Columbia College’s Journalism Department. But the work of the 2012 C-LINKS cohort did not end there. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office has been in contact with C-LINKS staff about the group’s compilation and will the students have the honor of presenting their work to the mayor himself. Discussions are also in place between staff and the Chicago Police Department about including Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in that conversation. To stay updated on the C-LINKS program visit

Kevin Morales accepts C-LINKS certificate. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

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Journalism as the future of civics curriculum

Friday, November 02, 2012

by Ashlei Williams, Robert R. McCormick Communications intern

What can journalism programs learn from civics education? In an August 15 presentation to Foundation staff, McCormick intern Alyssa Niese presented research on civic learning policy that has interesting implications for the Journalism Program’s work in news literacy.

During Niese’s presentation, she defined civics as the fostering of active and engaged citizens. She noted a national absence of civics caused by insufficient language in state constitutions and regulations of the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

Since as early as 1997, organizers have brainstormed solutions for civics education. One of the initiatives recognized is Illinois Civic Mission Coalition’s Democracy Schools, which requires curriculum evaluation, extracurricular opportunities and student government. Niese pointed out five ways that civics education could be improved in schools:
1. Require civics coursework
2. Add professional development workshops for teachers
3. Develop project-based assessments in schools
4. Implement service learning curriculum
5. Commit to the Democracy School model

These suggestions reflect recent academic discourse on how to improve journalism electives and programs in secondary schools. According to Elia Powers, a professor at American University’s School of Communication, journalism class requirements began disappearing when national achievement standards changed.

The Journalism Program has been actively supporting after-school journalism programs and news literacy education through in-classroom coursework.

In an interview with Education Week, noted education author Frank Baker said, “Media literacy is not an add-on: it is simply a lens through which we see and understand our world.”

The Civics Program conducted evaluations that showed that students found discussions and projects about current events particularly stimulating. Program evaluations also revealed that interactive methods are more effective with students than lectures. Also, research from National Assessment of Educational Progress Civics Assessment suggests that civics education can engage students and help them score higher on standardized tests.

There are numerous barriers to restructuring civics and journalism curricula, such as measurement of student comprehension and budgeting for new media technology as Niese and Powers noted.

The McCormick Foundation’s Journalism and Civics Programs are working to improve journalism and civics education in schools and communities.

For more information on the grant making and research being done by these programs visit

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Monday, October 29, 2012

McCormick Journalism Program Welcomes New Program Officer!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jennifer Choi has been named a Journalism Program Officer at the McCormick Foundation. Ms. Choi had served as Chicago Public Media/WBEZ’s director of institutional initiatives. Previously, she was Chicago Public Media’s director of foundation and government relations. She also has held staff positions with the Illinois College of Optometry, Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago and Korean American Women in Need. Jennifer began her career as an English Literature and Composition teacher at Wheeling High School. She is currently serving as grantmaking co-chair for the Asian Giving Circle, a donor advised subsidiary of the Chicago Community Trust. Her start date is Nov. 8.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Journalism Schools, Training Groups May Apply to Host a McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute in 2013

Monday, September 17, 2012

Workshop hosts receive funds from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to cover the costs of travel and teaching on critical topics for journalists

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Robert R. McCormick Foundation and The Poynter Institute announce that applications are open for organizations to host a McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute (SRI) in 2013.

SRIs are intensive reporting workshops designed to provide subject-specific expertise and practical skills to working journalists.  McCormick funded seven SRI workshops in 2012. Topics include covering Super PACs, war veterans returning home, child sexual abuse, social protest movements and violence in schools.

Details and an application for 2013 are on Poynter’s e-learning site, News University, at

Deadline for applications is Nov. 16, 2012.

Most SRI workshops provide two days of teaching to about 20 journalists. To extend the learning beyond the workshop, SRI hosts work with Poynter, a non-profit journalism school, to produce an online resource page for reporters, a Webinar and either a live chat or how-to article on Poynter’s website,

Best applicants in 2013 will be journalism schools, non-profit organizations or other training groups who propose teaching on a topic of keen interest to citizens, and therefore to journalists.

McCormick funds this program through a grant to The Poynter Institute.  Poynter and McCormick will select five to seven SRI hosts and topics for 2013, providing each host $30,000 to $50,000 to carry out this work.  Funds cover the costs of the training, including travel and lodging for participants.

For more information, e-mail

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation 
The McCormick Foundation is committed to strengthening our nation’s civic health by fostering educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through its grantmaking programs, Cantigny Park and Golf, and museums, the Foundation helps citizens make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The McCormick Foundation is one of the nation’s largest charities, with more than $1 billion in assets.  For more information, please visit

About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute trains journalism practitioners, media leaders, educators and citizens in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter’s website, ( is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology. Poynter’s News University ( offers training to journalists, journalism students, teachers and the public through more than 200 interactive e-learning modules and other forms of training. It has more than 220,000 registered users in 225 countries.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Bittersweet news for the McCormick Journalism program

Friday, September 07, 2012

Janet Liao is leaving the McCormick Foundation to join GLC Custom Media as a managing editor/digital media manager.

Janet spent the last three years as a McCormick Journalism Program officer.

Her extraordinary contributions included development of the Why News Matter Initiative and directing the Journalism Program’s evaluation efforts. She is creative, unflappable and never cuts a corner.

During her tenure, Janet assumed key leadership roles as a board member for the Chicago Women in Philanthropy.

Janet also was among the first McCormick Scholars in the Medill School of Journalism’s graduate program.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

A “teaching hospital’ model to journalism education

Friday, August 03, 2012

The McCormick Foundation is among the leading journalism funders calling for reform of journalism education.

In an Open Letter to University Presidents, the foundation leaders recommend a “teaching hospital’ model that blends professional practice with research and scholarship.

The release of this letter was timed to the annual meeting of the Association for Education and in Journalism and Mass Communication, which begins August 9 in Chicago.

Journalism and communications schools need to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital role as news creators and innovators, a group of foundations said in anopen letter to university presidents.
The foundations, all of which make grants to journalism education and innovation, urged more universities to adopt a model that blends practice with scholarship, with more top professionals in residence at universities and a focus on applied research.
“In this new digital age, we believe the ‘teaching hospital’ model offers great potential,” as scholars help practitioners invent viable forms of digital news that communities need, said the letter, signed by top representatives of Knight FoundationMcCormick Foundation,Ethics and Excellence in Journalism FoundationScripps-Howard FoundationBrett Family Foundation, and Wyncotte Foundation.
The model was described in the 2011 "Carnegie Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education" and is practiced at the Arizona State University, where student-powered News21 has become a major national news source. But it is by no means widespread.
The funders said they would support efforts by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications to modernize standards, including the integration of technology and innovation into curricula, and would not support institutions that were unwilling to change.
 “Simply put, universities must become forceful partners in revitalizing an industry at the very core of democracy,” it said. “Schools that favor the status quo, and thus fall behind in the digital transition, risk becoming irrelevant to both private funders and, more importantly, the students they seek to serve.
Schools interested in the ‘teaching hospital model’ could start by reading the Carnegie Knight report and New America Foundation’s report on journalism schools becoming community content providersThe University of Missouri boasts the nation’s oldest journalism program, runs a community newspaper as well as commercial television and public radio stations where journalism students learn by doing. Other examples of student-produced journalism include Neon Tommy at USC, the Medill News Service from Northwestern Universeity, Mission Loc@l by UC Berkeley students, reesenews at the University of North Carolina and the New York World by Columbia University students. Universities also may apply to participate in News21.  -- By Eric Newton, senior adviser to the President at Knight Foundation 

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

GlobalGirl Media in Chicago

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chicago’s GlobalGirl Media (GGM) class begins with yoga and ends with hands-on youth journalism. The course teaches girls how to stretch their comfort zones, ask questions, find stories and share what they’ve learned with broader audiences, among others. According to Elizabeth Czekner, GGM program director, the girls have been arriving to the 4-week workshop around a half hour before class even starts—eager to get started each morning.

The McCormick Foundation-funded organization is dedicated to empowering girls from underserved communities around the world through media, leadership and journalistic training to have a voice in global issues. Chicago’s program, in partnership with Free Spirit Media (FSM) and Chicago Public Schools, launched July 9 and will consist of a four-week summer training academy designed to inspire community activism and social change through youth journalism.

Students who’ve expressed an interest in journalism and/or writing were chosen from schools around the city and range in age, from high school sophomores to seniors. By the end of the school year, the 15 students will complete a package of stories that will be featured on GGM’s website, including investigations into teen pregnancy, gun violence, health issues and the prison system.

“At this point, each of them has been in front of and behind the camera at least once,” Czekner said. “They’re in essence a news bureau.”

Along with GGM groups in Los Angeles, South Africa and Morocco, Chicago’s team has been having conversations about media and news literacy.

“The goal is that [the groups] start to collaborate as well as report on stories in their own neighborhoods,” Czekner said.

To do that, the girls in all three groups are trained in a wide variety of mediums, including print, broadcast, photography and online news. Each student maintains an ongoing blog where she records her experiences over the course of the school year.

“My teaching philosophy is theory and practice,” said GGM/FSM program coordinator Ovetta Sampson, an experienced journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The San Jose Mercury News, among others.
“I’m so proud of them because they’re doing it all.”

At the end of the day, the girls show how media-savvy and literate youth already are. As part of GGM, they’ll learn to focus that innate knowledge on their future pursuits.

According to 15-year-old J’doria Taylor, her particular goal for the school year is “to inform other people and let other teens know that they can do the same.” 

Check out the following pictures from out trip to GGM's week two workday at George Westinghouse College Prep High School. For more info, videos, pictures and stories from GGM please visit their website and/or blog.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MF Youth Impact Study 2010

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The McCormick Journalism Program conducted a survey of its 2010 news literacy and youth journalism grantees to determine the impact of programs in Chicago.

MF staff created a 12-question Survey Monkey questionnaire that asked about partnerships with high schools, youth reached, teachers trained and neighborhoods where programs take place. Data was collected from the CPS Office of Performance, and was later used by the Urban Data Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago to produce maps using ArcGIS.

  • Some 23 MF-funded youth journalism and news literacy organizations served 6,874 young people in the Chicago area.
  • These students live in 43 of the city’s 77 neighborhoods, with the most activity in Roseland, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale.
  • Grantees reached students in 87 Chicago schools and 23 other schools in the suburbs. 
  • Grantees trained 153 teachers.
News Literacy:
  • 2,484 students in 32 Chicago Public Schools were directly reached by news literacy programs. 
  • 53 teachers received news literacy training.
Youth Journalism:
  • 4,390 students in 78 Chicago Public Schools were directly reached by MF youth journalism grantees. 
  • About 100 teachers received youth journalism training.
The 2010 maps can be found below. For additional information on the maps, data sources and the Urban Data Visualization Lab, please take a look at this slideshare presentation.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why News Matters update

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Journalism Program is continuing to review Letters of Inquiry and soon will begin asking finalists for full proposals.  On May 17, we gave our board of directors a preview of Why News Matters.  They embraced the initiative and look forward to considering our recommended package of grants at the Sept. 12 board meeting.

In the meantime, we would like to share a few tidbits of knowledge that came our way:

Five Web Literacies Named Essential Survival Skills

Attention, participation, collaboration, “crap detection” and network smartsHoward Rheingold calls these the essentials of news literacy in the digital age. According to a recent article from Nieman Journalism Lab, Rheingold’s new book “Net Smart: How to Thrive Online,” examines how people can use the internet to better themselves and the society as a whole.  

According to Rheingold, criticisms on the detrimental effects of the sites like Google and Facebook don’t take into account the humans’ ability to change their behavior. “If, like many others, you are concerned social media is making people and cultures shallow, I propose we teach more people how to swim and together explore the deeper end of the pool,” says Rheingold. 

Newspaper Boom in Asia

The newspaper industry’s nosedive in recent years is more local than global. According to IBT Times, India, China and Japan are become the world’s largest newspaper markets with paid circulations of 110 million, 109 million and 50 million, respectively. The U.S. has experienced a loss a circulation loss of 17 percent since 2006 (Europe’s loss is nearly double at 33.8 percent). To put those numbers in perspective, over the same period of time, Asia’s circulation increased at a rate of 16 percent.

While there’s much to be said about the treatment of journalists, the roadblocks to investigative work and the limitations of internet use in these countries, the boom in Asian newspaper circulation offers some insight into the broader, more global, relevancy of print journalism.

Unpublishing Requests on the Rise

Unpublishing requests are becoming more frequent and are not expected to slow down any time soon according to a poll of more than 100 North American newsrooms. Moreover, the report “The Longtail of News: To Unpublish or Not to Unpublish” finds that around half of those newsrooms lack an unpublishing policy. The shift to a digital medium has altered the shelf life of stories that would have been trashed or stored on microfilm 10 years ago. These days quotes live, seemingly, forever online, but, as the Columbia Journalism Review asks, is that fair to sources?

A well-structured editorial policy is crucial to dealing with what can, at times, be a sensitive issue.

Fall in Confidence

A recent Gallup poll shows that trust in the mass media has been on a steady decline since 1973. The question, of course, is why. According to Jay Rosen at, the question becomes even more complicated considering the advances journalism has made in the intervening time: journalists were becoming better educated, newsrooms were getting bigger and, generally, professional standards seemed to be on the rise.

Meanwhile, according to Rosen’s article, institutions across the board are less trusted, including churches, banks, public schools and government (all of which showed similar, and, in some cases, worse declines.) Rosen also notes other factors to consider, including what he calls “bad actors,” misinformation about “liberal bias,” and, similarly, a notion of “working the refs” that perpetuates the liberal bias motif.

—Clark Bell, Director

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Chicago Reporter Keeps Churning Out Top Work

Monday, May 14, 2012

Last Friday at a Chicago Headline Club event with some 350 in attendance, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists unveiled another year’s worth of Lisagor awards—more than 100 of them. By our count, the Trib came away with 13, the Sun-Times eight, WBEZ six Crain’s and the Southtown Star four apiece. Topics ranged from military couples to immigration limbo, pension games to corruption in Cicero to criminals fleeing the country. Reading through the list of winners is truly inspiring. We’re lucky to have so much rich talent in the Chicago area.

Oh, and the Chicago Reporter, the nonprofit investigative outfit headed by Kimbriell Kelly and housed at 130-year-old Community Renewal Society, took eight. At McCormick, we’ve been supporters of the Reporter for many years, and are amazed at its sustained, inspired work. We thought we’d ask Angela Caputo, who was named in three of the Reporter’s awards, to walk us through a recent story.

In the current issue online, the feature story is “Abusing the Badge.” This nifty piece of reporting reveals that:
  • 1 in 4: The number of investigations of police misconduct opened by the Independent Police Review Authority in 2010 that are still open
  • $45.5 million: Total payments between January 2009 and November 2011 by the City of Chicago in damages
  • 91%: The percentage of lawsuits reviewed by the Independent Police Review Authority that ended without an investigation because they weren’t backed by a sworn affidavit

But perhaps most remarkably, the story identifies 140 “repeaters,” police officers who were named in at least two cases. They represent 1 percent of the entire force. And the story names names; as it turns out, 1/3 of this group of repeaters was named in 5 or more police misconduct suits in the past decade.

We asked Angela to lay out the story:

  • On timing and resources: “I started the police story in mid-February and we went to the printer April 14. I had one primary intern—a recent Medill grad, Yisrael Shapiro—working with me. A couple other interns chipped in an hour here and there.”
  • On compiling data: “I started the project by compiling city settlement reports in an Excel file. My primary data set was a build out from that. The city reports include the case number related to each settlement, the damages paid by the city. Yisrael and I went into pacer to download most of the related files. I pulled others manually from the Cook County courthouses. In those court case files, we found the police officer’s names and the addresses where the alleged misconduct occurred. We logged all of that info into that main spreadsheet. I then used mapping software, Access and Excel to analyze it.”
  • Analyzing multiple databases: “I also downloaded city payroll data to see which of the officers are still on the department’s payroll. I did the same with a database of police board rulings to see which of the “repeaters” faced discipline.” 
  • Requesting information through FOIA: “Also, through FOIA, I got some great data from the Independent Police Review Authority. They gave me two sets of files—one data set of all complaints and another of closed investigations--which I joined in Access then analyzed in Excel. I also used FOIA to get police reports from CPD to learn the nitty-gritty about some of the allegations. I also FOIA’d the state’s attorney’s office to see how many police officers are facing prosecution in the criminal courts. I looked those up manually at the courthouse as well.”
  • On what surprised her the most: “That a vast majority of the allegations behind police misconduct settlements are never investigated. In 91 percent of the complaints forwarded from the civil courts to the Independent Police Review Authority, an investigation was never opened. Where’s the oversight?”

Job well done!

—by Mark Hallett
Senior Program Officer

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Talking #infoquality with the Berkman Center

Monday, May 07, 2012

Missed our webinar with the Berkman Center's Youth and Media Lab? 
A replay of the discussion can be found here.

The April 20 webinar followed on the heels of the Youth and Media Lab's latest report "Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality," which details the process by which youth engage with online info.

At a time when 9.5 out 10 youth in the U.S. use the internet, how do they find and evaluate quality of online information?

Check out this video replay to join the conversation. 

The Youth and Media team (above) leads the #infoquality
webinar with the McCormick Journalism group (below)

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Online startups, or “digital-first” sites, are experimenting with a variety of ways to engage with their audiences. From feedback to reader-generated stories to events, it is often with the goal of “converting” an audience member into a contributor of time, expertise and funds.

This week we attended the launch of the latest issue of MAS Context, a smart, Chicago-based online publication founded by Spanish architect Iker Gil back in 2009. The new issue explores the concept of ownership from a variety of angles – from a photo essay on new model homes in suburban subdivisions throughout the world to mapping public versus private spaces in Manhattan to a young woman in Portland (where else?) who has documented every purchase she has made since 2006. Studio Gang Architects hosted the release party, with the goal of sparking discussion around ownership among Chicago’s design community and its potential if approached in new ways. Recent MacArthur-honoree Jeanne Gang presented their project included in the "Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream" exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art proposing creative solutions to a formidable situation: how to use design and rethink zoning to stimulate entrepreneurship and sustainable growth in Cicero, an inner-ring suburb of Chicago hard hit by loss of industry and the foreclosure crisis. Some 40 young designers networked, strolled through the studio, then enjoyed the presentation and Q&A that followed.

So what are best practices in engagement? Are there practical tools that practitioners should know about to measure audience involvement? How are the best sites staffing up to engage with readers? At the end of the month, the American University-based J-LAB will release a McCormick-funded survey of digital news sites and lessons learned. Watch this space for more…

–Mark Hallett, senior program officer

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Monday, April 16, 2012

20 Years of Youth-made Media

Monday, April 16, 2012

Looking for strong examples of youth media and journalism projects? Check out two decades-worth of work carried out by Mindy Faber, founding director of OpenYouth Networks. OYN is a program based at Columbia College Chicago. Faber has been working with urban youth since the 90’s and hopes the 65+ videos currently posted on her Vimeo channel can be used as samples and inspirations for teachers and youth.

The videos are a diverse documentation of life, from youth in urban environments to Faber’s own family and friends—all spoken in their own words. The collection features interviews, youth-produced narratives and stories of social change covering a wide spectrum of issues that affect the lives of middle and high school students.

Faber hopes the footage will be of interest to anyone involved with the future of youth media and journalism. Some of her projects can be found here:

Part 3 of Resolutions: A Digital Dialogue: This video was made by Evanston Township High School students and interweaves footage shot from when the students shadowed each other at one another’s schools, as well as clips from a 3-hour discussion that took place in the TV studio at ETHS.

 Mi Nobre: by Astrid Maldonado, a 17 year Latina student who participated in a Global Youth Video Machete workshop. The video was presented at the National Endowment for the Humanities annual conference as a example of multicultural and digital learning in 2003.

Race Is, Race Ain't, Class is, Class Ain't: This mockumentary was made by youth in collaboration with video artist, Mindy Faber in 1999. Miranda July wrote an essay about it that was published in Felix in the early 2000s.

For more of Mindy's videos visit:

OpenYouth Media
Fractured Fairytales: Movies made by middle school students
An archival site featuring videos interviews with urban youth
Narrative works by high school youth

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Why News Matters: Update

Monday, April 09, 2012

We asked. You responded.
It turns out news does matter.

Six weeks ago, we invited you to submit ideas for our proposed 3-year, $6 million WHY NEWS MATTERS grantmaking initiative. By the April 2 deadline we had fielded 151 applications.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their creative ideas. The Journalism Program staff is in the midst of evaluating the applications. More than 90 percent of them focus on news literacy awareness, education or training.

The first round of judging will be completed by April 15.

—Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Student Story Ideas & News Literacy: The hands-on approach

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

On March 16, Candace Bowen of Kent State University’s Center for Scholastic Journalism gave a fascinating keynote speech to high school students and journalism advisers from across Chicago. The 300 or so students were gathered at the city’s Cultural Center for the annual high school journalism awards ceremony hosted by Roosevelt University. Her topic? How to come up with good story ideas. We loved it – she trimmed what could probably be an endless list of suggestions down to a pithy 5 Tips, or questions a student reporter can ask to help spark ideas. We find it stimulating – not just because this list could be used by anyone anywhere, but because it is part of how doing reporting exposes young people to the mysteries of journalism, and connects them to journalism, what it means to produce quality content and to the meaning of good, well-sourced storytelling.

Tip #1: What has made me angry lately?
If your sister wearing your sweater made you mad, why not talk to a few peers to see what makes them mad too? And even take it further – ask a school counselor or family therapist to ask them what makes young people mad. Or what about the system for rating movies? What differences really exist between the R-rated movie you can’t see and the PG movie you can see.

Tip #2: What have I wondered about?
Ever noticed that construction site down the street? Maybe a shopping center is being put in. Will that mean more jobs for teen readers? Or what will that new bridge mean for traffic near the school?

Tip #3: What is the next Big Ticket item I’m going to buy?
Might explore automobiles and safety issues. Or look into computers. What computers do students need to bring with them to college? You don’t want a PC if your major uses software that works better on Macs.

Tip #4: What have I been worried about lately?
Everything from a flu epidemic to snow days can be cause for worry. You can contact everyone from the school nurse to the county health department to get specific details about how to keep yourself healthy and precautions to take. And snow days don’t have to be a mystery. Find out who makes the decisions for your school and when and what they use as a basis.

Tip #5: What did my best friend just ask me?
It may be just silly gossip but maybe not. There are zillions of ideas all around you.
But the bottom line is that you have to localize – and “teen-ize” – your ideas. Give your readers info they won’t find elsewhere because it’s not written just for them. You’re the only one writing for your specific audience. Dig for the sources with the info that can make a difference in their lives and yours.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Why News Matters: Sailing

Monday, April 02, 2012

Ever since we started to move our attention toward the audience and issues of information credibility, we’ve been astounded at how momentum is growing for what we and others are calling News Literacy.

Examples of news literacy ‘teaching moments’ seem to be coming at us in a flurry. From the Kony 2012 video to the Mike Daisey “This American Life” piece and retraction, as well as the purportedly leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, compelling examples abound. Each new instance raises – in very different ways – issues of credibility, bias, the difference between spin and high-quality reporting – and how to distinguish between the two.

But there’s more: We’re seeing and hearing testimony from a lot of people that they are as concerned as we are, and want to play a role in moving things in the right direction. At this point, in this nascent field, we’ve got more questions than answers: What are the most compelling ways for credible news and information to come alive for young people?  Can the isolation of growing old in a big city be mitigated through the potential of digital information literacy to connect people? Can the young produce reporting that speaks beyond their peers and has meaning for all of us? How can news organizations use their platform to engage readers in dialogue and educate them about the mysteries of reporting? And as Richard Rodriguez explored in his Harper’s magazine essay two years ago: Who plays the role of helping to shape the identity of today’s cities? And is there a role for those engaged in workforce development, adult literacy, technology, the arts and other areas?

Here are just a few examples of ways that we see news literacy as being tremendously relevant:

·      Knowledge is Power: The website from ClearHealthCosts includes an interactive map based on Medicare data for actual pay for hospital stays. Helps people see the different costs of the same procedure in the same city. Simple and revolutionary.
·      Open-Door Policy: University publications like Madison Commons in Wisconsin are doing a compelling job of explaining their role and inviting readers to become engaged. The header on their homepage says it all: Who we are, What we do, What you can do, Talk, Tag cloud and Multimedia. Applause.
·      YLCM: In a conversation with New America Media’s Jacob Simas and Raj Jayadev, we noticed they’ve dropped the term youth media and now talk about ‘youth-led community media.’ Young people aged 14 and into their twenties are playing a role in reporting on community issues. We see this same commitment to quality in other places: Witness Free Spirit Media’s 10-minute documentary on food deserts in North Lawndale.
·      The Event: When young people learn to report, their journalism becomes a springboard for deeper civic engagement. A great example is the “What’s hitting teens harder than adults?” townhall organized by Columbia LINKS, where high school reporters launched a special edition R-Wurd magazine at an event featuring experts and elected officials. See the issue here. It includes a cover story “Not Hiring: The plight of jobless teens,” as well as a piece on hoodies as fashion. How timely.
·      Creative Story Telling: Young journalists in particular are experimenting with creative ways to connect with audiences. An example is the DC-based Pulitzer Center, which sent a photojournalist and a poet to cover Haiti post-earthquake. Erin Polgreen sent us this link to coverage of refugees in Damascus, in cartoon format.
·      An Editor’s Tough Love: Julia Lieblich, author of “Wounded I Am More Awake,” which tells the story of a doctor who survived six Bosnian concentration camps, just penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. In it she lays out how after three years of interviews for her book, her editor told her to go and confirm the facts. So she went, as she says, to ‘fact-check horror.’ She lays out how this ultimately led to richer work.
·      The Impact of Games: And back to kids. Students at the Reavis School on Chicago’s South Side – in a News Literacy Project program – produced an audio report on the impact of video games on their lives. It’s simply great work. The story is here.

So many challenges and so many questions. But at least it seems there’s momentum on our side. Nice to have a little wind in your sails.
--Mark Hallett, senior program officer


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

April 2 Deadline: Last Call for Why News Matters Applications

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Why News Matters application deadline of April 2 is fast approaching. If the three informational sessions we held are any indication, there will be scores of excellent ideas. More than 100 organizations participated in the informational sessions, while others connected with us later online.

If you’ve missed the informational sessions, we’ve posted our March 9 Why News Matters overview webinar for online viewing. Very soon, we’ll add recordings of our two news literacy guest presenters, Dean Miller of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, and Geanne Rosenberg of Baruch College.  In the meantime, feel free to browse the presentation slides from our March 27 informational session below:
Download Geanne Rosenberg's presentation
Download the Why News Matters overview presentation 

And we have taken Why News Matters on the road.  Since developing the concept in January, the Journalism Program staff has been talking with universities, news organizations, libraries, community groups, jobs training programs, educators, civic organizations, arts groups, media literacy organizations, digital folks, entrepreneurs and independent journalists. We’ve truly enjoyed these conversations and your thoughtful ideas and questions about shaping a long-term strategy and approach to news literacy in Chicago.

To help you prepare your application, we’ve compiled a few additional frequently asked questions from our recent informational sessions:

Many of you have asked us to elaborate on our evaluation process and requirements. We’re pleased to share our evaluation logic model to give you a better sense of our program goals and framework and how your ideas might align. We plan to develop more detailed evaluation metrics from our work with Why News Matters grantees.

How can news literacy be incorporated into an area like work-force training? 
News literacy is intertwined with media, digital and other literacies. We feel there are synergies with these disciplines in citizenship, workforce development and workforce reentry programs. McCormick, for example, funds digital navigators at the Chicago Public Libraries. Much of this traffic comes from older people looking for jobs. Another example: Financial literacy teachers better connect with students by illustrating curriculum with relevant current economic events. We want to know your ideas on how news literacy skills align with other learning skills.

You say you want to engage the community. What’s your take on the role of journalism in advocacy and community organizing? 
We are exploring this question now more than ever in the past. That said, we are firm believers in pure journalism skills.  We’re certainly looking at  different ways that people learn and engage, but the focus has to be on informing and stimulating citizen action through a news literacy lens.

Do I have to create a separate user name and log-in for every application I submit? 
You may submit multiple applications using the same username and password. Each application you submit will be assigned a unique identification number to help you keep track of your applications. See below:

At any time, you can access and work on your application(s) by logging into your grant application account by logging-in from You can toggle between Submitted Applications and In Progress Applications by clicking on the “Show” drop down menu on the top right hand corner.

Remember: To apply, fill out this brief application form on our online application system. Note: If you are a new user to our online application system, you'll need to enter your e-mail address and create a password. If you already are registered with us, you can use your existing McCormick Grant Request log-in and password. (Current grantees: This is the same log-in and password you used to complete your year-end grant reports).

Please submit your applications by the end of business day April 2.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Register Now: Webinar on Youth and Information Quality

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and McCormick Foundation Present A Webinar on Youth and Information Quality.  

A McCormick Media Matters Webinar 

Date: April 20, 2012 
Time: 2 pm CT/ 3 pm ET 

Learn from experts at the Berkman Center about how young people interact with digital media. If you want to learn more about news literacy and get ideas for various news literacy applications for youth, you won't want to miss this free webinar!

Program Description 
The Youth and Media Team at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will introduce the concept of "information quality" and discuss where it comes from and why it's useful for looking at how young people interact with the Internet and digital media. Youth practices of searching for, evaluating, creating, and sharing online information will be at the center of this conversation. In many respects, such practices - and the underlying skills - form the core of “digital citizenship”.  The Internet affords young people myriad opportunities to consume and create news information and to participate in online networks, which require various types of interactions with online information. 

The webinar will start with a discussion of key insights from the Berkman report, “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality.” The report describes the process by which youth engage with online information, including the connected phases of information seeking, evaluating, creating, and sharing. The report also considers how youths' dynamic process of information use can differ at home, among friends, or at school. After introducing these ideas, the webinar will discuss how the online news ecosystem is a rich setting for testing the potential of youth content creation. When youth create media, they often enhance their searching and evaluating skills in the process. By consuming and contributing news in new ways, youth are changing what it means to be a citizen and participant in online communities. 

Register now

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

McCormick Recognizes Next Generation of Student Journalists

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More than 300 student journalists from around the city were rewarded for outstanding work at their high school media outlets by the McCormick Foundation and the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago on March 16.

The event, held at Roosevelt University and the Chicago Cultural Center, included a series of awards to the teens and their respective print and online newspapers. Among the awards were the winner for overall layout, overall newspaper, community story, entertainment story and Journalist of the Year, which came with a $1,500 scholarship.

The 20th annual ceremony also included workshops by professional journalists on issues such as hyperlocal reporting, newspaper design and generating story ideas. A workshop by Maura Hernandez of the Chicago Tribune highlighted the use of various digital tools, such as networking social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Storify, to enhance articles. Another presentation, by Dean Miller of Stony Brook University, delved into ways in which news literacy fosters a more engaged and discerning citizenry.

A full list of the award winners can be found here.

Congratulations to all of the participating schools and journalists, including Diana Rosen of Whitney Young who won the award for Journalist of the Year.

Check out video from the event featuring some of the student participants:

For more information on other Scholastic Press Association events, visit:

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