Articles about "Chicago Sun-Times"


Sun-Times, attacked by both sides in governor’s race, defends coverage

Chicago Sun-Times | Crain’s Chicago Business

Bruce Rauner, a candidate for governor in Illinois, tried to squelch a critical Sun-Times story, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Jim Kirk writes. The Sun-Times also endorsed Rauner, who used to be an investor in the Sun-Times’ ownership group. That move brought criticism from Rauner’s opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Those former ties mean nothing when it comes to the Sun-Times’ ability and determination to report on him and his campaign fairly and accurately,” Kirk writes, saying the paper “has been fearless in its reporting.”

The paper’s endorsement of Rauner was its first since it announced in 2012 that it would no longer make endorsements.

Sun-Times reporter Dave McKinney co-bylined on the story that angered Rauner, which reported on a lawsuit that claimed he’d threatened Christine Kirk, an executive at another company who is no relation to Jim Kirk. “There’s no ‘there’ there,” Rauner told the Sun-Times.

McKinney has hired an attorney “to investigate whether the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner tried to interfere with his employment,” Lynne Marek reports in Crain’s Chicago Business. Rauner, a Republican, complained to the Sun-Times that McKinney is married to a Democratic consultant. “Recently, Mr. McKinney was inexplicably absent from his statehouse beat for five days despite one of the hottest gubernatorial races in recent memory,” Marek writes.

Kirk tells Marek that “Out of an abundance of caution, we did review this matter and we are convinced Dave’s wife, Ann Liston, receives no financial benefit from any Illinois political campaign because of the extraordinary steps they’ve taken to establish business safeguards.”

McKinney “has been and remains our Springfield bureau chief for all the right reasons: because he continues to do great work covering both sides of the aisle,” Kirk writes in his editorial. Read more

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Career Beat: Janelle Nanos is editor of Beta Boston

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Holly Gauntt is now news director for KDVR/KWGN in Denver. Previously, she was news director for KOMO in Seattle. Sarah Garza is interim news director for KOMO. Previously, she was assistant news director there. Nick McDermott is now executive producer at KTVA in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been a producer there. James Doughty is now communications director for a San Antonio city councilman. Previously, he was a reporter for KENS in San Antonio. (Rick Geevers)
  • Stacy-Marie Ishmael will head up editorial operations for BuzzFeed’s news app. Previously, she was vice president of communities at the Financial Times. (Nieman Lab)
  • Lindsey Bahr is now a film writer for The Associated Press. Previously, she was a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly. (AP)
  • Janelle Nanos is now editor of Beta Boston. Previously, she was a senior editor at Boston Magazine. (Muck Rack)
  • Matthew Schnipper is now a senior editor at GQ. Previously, he was editor-in-chief at Fader. (email)
  • Terry Savage is now a contributor at Tribune Content Agency. Previously, she was a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. (Robert Feder)

Job of the day: the AP is looking for a news research manager in New York. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org Read more

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Truth&Trust

Crime coverage in Chicago may be too good

Chicago is widely known as “Chiraq” or the “murder capital” even though its murder rate is much lower than in past years and in many other cities. Ironically this may be a function of local media’s attempts to do a better job reporting on homicides and crime

There was a time when reporters just didn’t cover many crime – or other — stories in the city’s low income, Black and Latino neighborhoods, noted veteran reporters at Poynter’s “Truth & Trust in the 21st Century” forum in Chicago Thursday. Now the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, DNAinfo and other media outlets make it a point to cover every murder in the city. But that means a lot of negative coverage about the city’s South and West sides, even as there are still relatively few other stories being reported on in these neighborhoods.

TruthTrust

When you have 10 crime stories for every uplifting story like the Jackie Robinson West Little League team, noted DNAinfo reporter Darryl Holliday, “that’s not a good ratio.” “It says that’s all that’s happening, when that’s not the case,” continued Holliday, who is also co-founder of The Illustrated Press, which does journalism through comics.

But there are not necessarily bright lines between “good” and “bad” stories, countered author Alex Kotlowitz, pointing to the “This American Life” documentary on Chicago’s Harper High as an example.

The “centrifugal force of journalism,” as Kotlowitz described it, is to “understand why kids make the decisions they make … to understand what pushes and pulls people.”

Asiaha Butler  (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

Asiaha Butler (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

But panelist Asiaha Butler told Kotlowitz she was unable to listen the Harper High documentary all the way through, since she felt it portrayed an unrealistically negative and “dramatic” view of the neighborhood where she has lived most of her life and leads the Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.). She said the many untold stories in Englewood include the role of grandparents and great grandparents and the strong intergenerational structure that underpins the neighborhood.

“I’m not dodging bullets all the time,” said Butler, who with R.A.G.E. airs news on a website and a public access TV program. “You tell your own narrative, you don’t wait until the media comes.”

Like Butler, audience members at the Truth & Trust event implored reporters to do more to find and tell a wider range of stories.

“There are people who help people take out their garbage, who clean up the community … who help elders cross the street,” said Rondayle Sanders, a fifth-grader at the Bradwell School of Excellence whose class wrote an op-ed published in The Chicago Tribune presenting a fuller view of their neighborhood. “We want you to know more positive things about the South Side.”

When Sanders asked for advice in reporting, Butler suggested he start at his school “talking to the janitor, the lunch lady, hear their stories and highlight them.

In some ways it should be easier than ever for journalists to find and report a wide range of stories in different neighborhoods, since social media and new media have turned journalism from a specialized profession into an act practiced by the masses, as Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president of academic programs, put it.

McBride noted that these days rather than acting as gatekeepers of information and finding stories on their own, mainstream journalists are more often picking up on the stories being reported in blogs, community outlets and social media, “sorting through and magnifying” them.

But the financial crisis and budget cuts that have rocked the journalism world mean that even reporters with the best intentions struggle to get the time and space to tell the rich, multi-layered stories that do justice to a neighborhood.

“There’s no lack of these really great groups,” said Holliday. “But there are only so many journalists who can only do so many things.”

Linda Lutton (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

Linda Lutton (Photo by Kari Lydersen)

Kotlowitz noted that WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton, who was in the audience, was lucky to get substantial time to work on the Harper High story, a luxury relatively few full-time journalists are granted. Meanwhile from the audience veteran reporter Sally Duros pointed out that “good news stories are not news” or are viewed as “P.R.” by many.

Panelist Lolly Bowean, a Chicago Tribune reporter, noted that media outlets are financially and otherwise obligated to cover stories that draw readership and hence revenue. She said people often complain about the paper’s extensive coverage of rapper Chief Keef, but those are the stories that draw high numbers of views and comments.

“There has to be an appetite from the audience, from the public saying we need these stories,” said Bowean. “If there is no one paying 50 cents for that paper or going online to get it, then there is no us!”

Meanwhile panelists and audience members stressed that even as technology opens up possibilities for new and innovative ways to tell stories, there is still a crucial role for old-fashioned watchdog, accountability journalism. Reporters noted that police officers are often reticent with information about cases, and that in Chicago only about a quarter of murders are ever officially solved. The “triangle” of relationships between police, community members and journalists — as audience member David Schaper of NPR put it — is typically tense and fraught.

Reporters need to scrutinize official statistics and reports, the journalists noted, applying the old adage “if your mother says she loves you, check it out” to information from the police.

There is clearly no easy answer to the myriad of challenges and contradictions discussed at the Truth & Trust gathering, which was hosted by CBS 2 Chicago anchor Jim Williams and also featured Tracy Swartz, reporter for the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye tabloid edition and Michael Lansu, an editor of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Homicide Watch project.

But the bottom line is that in order to achieve nuanced, rich coverage of neighborhoods that goes beyond the latest crime statistics, key factors are just that — truth and trust. Read more

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Why are so many news organizations still worried about retweets by staffers?

Here’s our roundup of the top digital and social media stories you should know about (and from Andrew Beaujon, 10 media stories to start your day, and from Kristen Hare, a world roundup):

— At Reuters, Jack Shafer picks up on my piece yesterday about how so many news organizations — with The New York Times being a notable exception — still seem afraid of reporters’ retweets coming across as endorsements: “Are NPR, the AP, and Reuters’s editorial reputations really so fragile that a 140-character tweet or retweet by a staffer can blow the whole thing down?”

— Three months into the “temporary” Chicago Sun-Times comments ban, publisher and editor-in-chief Jim Kirk tells Robert Feder “he’s heard no complaints lately and he’s seen no drop-off in online traffic.” Comments should return with a new CMS “sometime around the fourth quarter.”

— BuzzFeed’s director of editorial products, Alice DuBois, on the photo “slide things” in popular posts lately: “I do think there’s a part of the editorial mission to keep pushing and experimenting,” she tells Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon.

— The Dallas Morning News has abandoned its “premium” website, which was ad-free and aimed to be more nicely designed. “But you could see this result coming a Texas mile away,” writes Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab. “The premium site was not some beautiful, immersive experience — it was aggressively ugly and a pain to navigate.”

— “It used to be that there was an ever-more alarming growth in the hours people spent in front of the TV,” Michael Wolff writes at USA Today. “Now the greater concern is the limits of human attention.”


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Rob Hart

One year after 28 Sun-Times photojournalists were laid off, where are they now?

One year ago today, the Chicago Sun-Times eliminated its photo staff, laying off 28 full-time employees.

Most of them have landed on their feet, according to email and phone interviews with many of the photographers. While they were sometimes hesitant to dwell on the layoffs, the former Sun-Times staffers filled me in on how their lives — and those of the photographers I couldn’t reach — have changed since May 30, 2013. Read more

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Chicago Sun-Times homepage

Sun-Times kills comments until it can fix ‘morass of negativity, racism, and hate speech’

Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times has temporarily eliminated story commenting on its website until it can develop a system that will “foster a productive discussion rather than an embarrassing mishmash of fringe ranting and ill-informed, shrill bomb-throwing,” managing editor Craig Newman announced:

The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas. But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.

In fact, the general tone and demeanor is one of the chief criticisms we hear in regard to the usability and quality of our websites and articles. Not only have we heard your criticisms, but we often find ourselves as frustrated as our readers are with the tone and quality of commentary on our pages.

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Sun-Times subscribers can pay with bitcoin

CoinDesk

The Chicago Sun-Times has started accepting bitcoin for yearlong print subscriptions and subscriptions to the newspaper’s digital replica. Payments will be processed via Coinbase digital wallet technology.

The cheapest digital replica option costs $47.88 for 12 months.

In February, the Sun-Times did a 24-hour test of a paywall powered by startup BitWall to accept small, name-your-price payments for access to the site.

It yielded 713 bitcoin donations, but payment was optional and bitcoin users — many of whom likely weren’t regular Sun-Times readers — rallied to support the experiment.

The Sun-Times has also recently run Bitcoin advertorials online and in print.

While accepting bitcoin for subscriptions is an interesting cutting-edge move for the paper, the real promise of digital currencies is that they could support micropayments unfeasible with traditional currencies due to high bank transaction fees. Today’s news just means an alternative way to pay for longterm access to content; the game changer would be offering users who don’t want to pony up for full digital access an easy, frictionless way to pay for single articles or time-based access to a site.

Disclosure: I used to work for the Sun-Times.


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Related: Sun-Times to test Bitcoin paywall that’s really just an optional donation box Read more

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Sun-Times will rehire 4 photographers

Robert Feder

The Chicago Sun-Times plans to rehire four of the photographers it let go last year, Robert Feder reports:

Rich Chapman, Brian Jackson, Al Podgorski and a fourth photographer whose name was not confirmed are expected to be rehired under terms of a contract settlement reached in November between Sun-Times Media and the Chicago Newspaper Guild.

More layoffs are coming to the Sun-Times and affiliated papers, Feder writes, though reporters’ “employment appears to be secure for the moment,” he writes. The paper and the Chicago Newspaper Guild agreed last year to bring back the four photo slots. “It is our position that Sun-Times Media is acting is good faith,” Guild spokesperson Beth Kramer told Poynter in an email. She expects the hires to be completed today.

The Sun-Times laid off around 30 full-time photographers last May and said it planned to train people left on iPhone photography basics, a prospect Stephen Colbert had some fun with.

John White, who won a Pulitzer Prize while at the Sun-Times, told Poynter’s Kenny Irby “It was as if they pushed a button and deleted a whole culture of photojournalism.” White is not returning, Feder reports — “He is teaching at Columbia College Chicago.”

One former staffer, Brian Powers, took portraits of his erstwhile coworkers for CNN. Another, Scott Stewart, returned to firefighting. In an interview with Poynter’s Kristen Hare published Monday, former Sun-Times photographer Andrew Nelles said “I couldn’t see a reason to go back there. … Four photographers doing the work that 28 did previously seems like a warning sign already.” Read more

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Photog_2Nelles

Changes at the Orlando Sentinel felt ‘extremely familiar’ for a former Sun-Times photographer

Andrew Nelles, a former Chicago Sun-Times photographer. (Photo by Andrew Nelles)

When the photo staff at the Orlando Sentinel was told they’d have to reapply for their jobs last week and that those jobs would be “videocentric,” according to a report from the National Press Photographers Association, “it seemed extremely familiar,” said Andrew Nelles, a Chicago-based freelance photographer, in a phone interview.

Nelles only worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for nine months before he and the entire photo staff were laid off in May of last year. Nelles, who freelanced before that job, was able to bounce back into freelance quickly.

“But that’s not the case for most people,” he said. Read more

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The men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Why Olympics spoilers provide a perfect excuse for news organizations to engage in clickbait

Note: This post is a spoiler-free zone.

UPDATE: The U.S.-Russia hockey game Saturday provided more examples of the good and the ugly. Here’s one from WGAL in Pennsylvania:

See @WSJbreakingnews and @washingtonpost tweets if spoilers don’t bother you.

I jumped into a Twitter discussion this afternoon about how the Chicago Sun-Times (where I used to work) is live-tweeting Winter Olympics results from Sochi hours before events air on prime-time in the U.S. on NBC.

Some people aren’t happy about what they consider spoilers:

  Read more

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