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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