Thom Clark (Community Media Workshop) offers the observation on today’s show that the Emanuel administration is about to apply a usage fee to the First Amendment. The “sit down and shut up” ordinance, as it’s frequently being called, will require permits and fees for a wide range of activities once simply thought of as “protest”.
Also on the program, the sale of the Sun-Times. The keyword seems to be “firewall”. Our panelists, all journalists, seem to agree that they’re not necessarily concerned about the deep financial ties almost all the new investors have to Rahm Emanuel – if the owners can keep their hands off the editorial content. But the question remains – if the mayor is steamed about a negative Fran Spielman story, will he pick up the phone and call his friends in the Board room? And if he does, will someone pay a visit to Fran? Whet Moser says – let’s not get too apocalyptic. These are investors, and they know that the value of their investment is tied to the quality of the publication. So we all have to catch our breath and wait a while.
And there’s a surprising status update. Thom talks about the “New News” studies CMW has done (and another scheduled for summer) measuring Chicago’s on-line activity in the news field. Despite the proliferation of news sites – and the death of several – the vast majority of Chicagoans who read news on-line begin their journey at the legacy sites – Tribune, Sun-Times and a few others.
Three years ago, after the Chicago Journalism Town Hall, Whet wrote a definitive post at the Reader about the future of journalism in Chicago, especially the on-line kind. It’s fascinating to re-read it today. And a note of congratulations to Kimbriell Kelly, whose pieces about the unfair lending practices at Countrywide Bank led to a massive legal action and an acknowledgement by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Journalism is still happening in Chicago, but not all of it is coming from the traditional news sources.