Recap: Chicago Journalism Town Hall 2020

Dorothy Leavell of The Crusader (left) and Carol Marin (right) of NBC 5 and WTTW.

A few rays of hope for local media emerged from the Chicago Journalism Town Hall 2020. The Feb. 23 event drew 24 panelists from a wide range of media to speak at the first such gathering in 11 years.

About 300 journalists in the audience heard current news leaders talk about their failures and successes in terms of finance and audience engagement.

The Daily Herald’s Robert Feder lamented the lack of progress made since the last town hall meeting.

“Eleven years ago when we convened here, the consensus was that the financial model, the former financial model of the journalism business, was broken. And it’s still broken,” Feder said.

Watch the full town hall meeting here:

At a time when the cost-slashing investment firm Alden Global Capital is taking control of Tribune Publishing, news leaders are looking for alternate solutionsfrom foundation support and nonprofit models to single “angel” investors.

“There are all sorts of strategic questions in terms of how to build larger platforms, how to hold up different voices, how to build a more viable financial basis,” said Jamie Kalven, the Executive Director of the Invisible Institute. “But there’s also an immense creative space that’s opened up, and it’s opened up in part by virtue of some large shade trees having lost some of their branches.”

For more coverage, read Mark Jacob’s excellent piece for Medill’s Local News Initiative.

Also, a quick reminder: The Chicago Headline Club Foundation is offering two $5,000 intern grants to not-for-profit news organizations right now.