Who Speaks For All of Chicago?

source: ASNE

source: ASNE

Almost a lifetime ago now, I wandered door to door in black Washington, asking simple questions:

What do you see in the news media that tells about your life? And do you trust the news media?

I learned from the people I talked with that their Washington was virtually invisible in a news media that was nearly all white. I learned also that it was hard to have faith in a news media that did not talk to you or represent you.

Not long after, Washington and many other cities witnessed an explosion of black fury. When the government’s Kerner Commission looked at the riots’  causes in 1968, one problem it pointed to was the failure of the news media to link black and white America.

It wrote:

Our second and fundamental criticism is that the news media have failed to analyze and report adequately on racial problems in the United States and, as a related matter, to meet the Negro’s legitimate expectations in journalism. By and large, news organizations have failed to communicate to both their black and white audiences a sense of the problems America faces and the sources of potential solutions. The media report and write from the standpoint of a white man’s world. The ills of the ghetto, the difficulties of life there, the Negro’s burning sense of grievance, are seldom conveyed. Slights and indignities are part of the Negro’s daily life, and many of them come from what he now calls “the white press”—a press that repeatedly, if unconsciously, reflects the biases, the paternalism, the indifference of white America. This may be understandable, but it is not excusable in an institution that has the mission to inform and educate the whole of our society.

 How far have we come?

How does the news media tell the story not only of black Chicago in 2014, but of Chicago’s Asian and Latino and immigrant communities?

And how does the Chicago news media itself reflect this city of many roots?

We will talk about this at our forum, “Can White Newsrooms Tell Chicago’s Story,” at 6 pm Tuesday, December 2 at room 219, 33 East Congress, Columbia College.

The panelists are: Naila Boodhoo of WBEZ, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs of the  Chicago Sun-Times, Darryl Holliday of DNA-Info, Alejandro Escalona of Telemundo and Teresa Puente of Columbia College.

Please join us and take part in an important conversation.

Steve Franklin


312 369 6400




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