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Today's Youth Making Themselves Heard

October 27, 2010

Youth is an important time in the life of an individual. As a distinct stage in the life cycle, this period is not only defined by age, but also by a set of developmental tasks, such as finishing school, starting work, moving out of the parental home and starting a family, that reflect societal norms and expectations. But large economic and social transformations and the recent recession in the U.S. fundamentally altered the conditions under which young people are growing up because they affected their ability to achieve a level of economic security sufficient to start a life of their own. Despite this emerging consensus in the contemporary youth literature however, we currently have very limited knowledge about how certain groups of young people and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds are faring under conditions of growing uncertainty. The Chicago Youth Voices Network (CYVN) set out to ask young people in Chicago directly about their concerns, worries and hopes.CYVN consists of eleven city-wide youth media organizations that collaborated over the course of one year to engage youth in online polling and social media tools to create their own stories and provide a means for sharing them with the larger community. The project combines elements of pedagogy (social media training), research (develop and conduct a poll) and action (media production) in a unique way that allows young people to be meaningfully involved in every step along the way and thus, distinguishes it from conventional, primarily adults-driven research agendas. While such an approach certainly violates some basic academic rules of conduct, it provides a unique and fascinating window into the lived experience of disadvantaged youth in Chicago. Media based on this research can be viewed at http://nuf-said.org/media-browser/

The NEW News 2010: The Second Annual Survey of the Chicago Area's Online News Ecosystem

August 5, 2010

Presents results of a survey of Chicago online news sites about their activities, content, platforms, parent organizations, partnerships, staffing, and sources of funding. Includes video interviews, data on online visitors, and list and map of sites.

The New News: Journalism We Want and Need

June 3, 2009

Economic pressures on one hand and continuing democratization of news on the other have already changed the news picture in Chicago, as elsewhere in the U.S. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times are in bankruptcy, and local broadcast news programs also face economic pressures. Meanwhile, it seems every week brings a new local news entrepreneur from Gapers Block to Beachwood Reporter to Chi-Town Daily News to Windy Citizen to The Printed Blog.In response to these changes, the Knight Foundation is actively supporting a national effort to explore innovations in how information, especially at the local community level, is collected and disseminated to ensure that people find the information they need to make informed decisions about their community's future. The Chicago Community Trust is fortunate to have been selected as a partner working with the Knight Foundation in this effort through the Knight Community Information Challenge. For 94 years, the Trust has united donors to create charitable resources that respond to the changing needs of our community -- meeting basic needs, enriching lives and encouraging innovative ways to improve our neighborhoods and communities.Understanding how online information and communications are meeting, or not, the needs of the community is crucial to the Trust's project supported by the Knight Foundation. To this end, the Trust commissioned the Community Media Workshop to produce The New News: Journalism We Want and Need. We believe this report is a first of its kind resource offering an inventory and assessment of local news coverage for the region by utilizing the interactive power of the internet. Essays in this report also provide insightful perspectives on the opportunities and challenges.

If It Catches My Eye: An Exploration of Online News Experiences of Teenagers

January 7, 2008

Teenagers aren't much into following serious news online, but news organizations can -- and should -- cultivate their interest by learning how to catch their eyes, diminish their angst, go where they are, enlist parents and teachers in the cause, and help teens develop a "news persona," according to a new study released by the Media Management Center at Northwestern University.MMC conducted a qualitative, in-depth study of a diverse group of 65 Chicago-area teens in 2007, seeking to identify what drives the online news consumption of teenagers. The research found:News isn't that important to teens right now.Particularly news of politics, government, public affairs and other subjects that journalists might call "serious news." Other things are more compelling. In addition, following the news is stressful for teens: it reminds them of the peril in the world.Local news sites aren't much on their radar screens.Teens are not interested enough to go out of their way for news. So whatever news pops up in front of them when they turn on their computers -- usually the large Internet portals and news aggregators -- is what they see. Even so, teens are "interestable."Researchers repeatedly heard the phrase, "I will read it IF IT CATCHES MY EYE." Hence, the name of this report. Teens will look at many different kinds of news online if it captures their attention -- with subjects that interest them, video, pictures, the right topics, humorous and weird news and new things. Once interested, they often read on. And even though they don't usually enjoy reading or watching the news, talking about it can be fun.

Nonprofit Communications: Half a Glass, Either Way You See It

October 1, 2007

Only a third of Chicago-area nonprofits appear to have full-time communications staff. On the other hand, nearly half have received some news coverage in the past year or two. These are two key findings from a survey of 212 grantees of The Chicago Community Trust that we undertook in October 2007, informed by several years of baseline studies of many who access our services.

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