Where You Live in Chicago Makes a Huge Difference in How You Perceive Media, Survey Shows

This soon-to-be-released report, created by the Center for Media Engagement with input from City Bureau, shows the major gaps — and opportunities — in the local media ecosystem.

Attendees at City Bureau’s May 11 Public Newsroom workshop, “Who tells the story of Englewood” with Englewood-based photographer and City Bureau photojournalism fellowship alum, Tonika Johnson.

What do we mean when talk about media’s role in “reshaping the narrative”? It’s a topic we’ve tackled at City Bureau, often by “stepping up and stepping back,” i.e. stepping up to provide a platform for a diverse range of historically marginalized communities and stepping back to let others take the lead.

But whose narrative is being reshaped and why?

At City Bureau, we believe that traditional media has neglected certain parts of the city, which is why we focus on creating equitable, representative coverage of the South and West Sides*, where we often find that people feel very differently about local news media depending on how well-represented they feel they are in newspapers and on TV. To date, there has been very little scientific data on this issue—especially during such a transitional time for so many local news outlets. That is, until now. (*For those of you unfamiliar with the regional differences: Chicago is a city with a long history of segregation. Read our reporting on the topic here. )

With input from City Bureau, the Center for Media Engagement surveyed a representative sample of 900 Chicagoans to explore their attitudes toward, and preferences for, Chicago news media across three regions — the South, West and North/downtown. CME’s soon-to-be-published report has a wide array of fascinating data, and we invite you to join us on January 18 at the #PublicNewsroom to hear directly from the researchers, see the data and ask your own questions.

For now, we have a sneak peek of the early results. And what we found most interesting was this: People living on the South and West Sides of Chicago feel underrepresented or poorly represented by Chicago news media. However, they also are the most interested in getting involved with Chicago news organizations.

The survey data supports what we hear from community members in our newsroom and from our partners across the city — what folks in marginalized communities have been saying all along: They do not feel heard in the existing media landscape, and they want to co-create narratives.

An Invitation

On January 18, we invite you to join us for a public conversation around the release of the full Chicago News Source survey. There, we’ll join our friends at the Center for Media Engagement, community members, journalists and other civic-minded guests to explore the role of media — and what it means to actively reshape that narrative while engaging people in the process of news production.

So let’s talk, we’ll see you on the 18th.

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