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Showing posts from April, 2019

Enhancing Collaboration, Engagement, and Entrepreneurship

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This article is the third in a series, written by program officer Andres Torres, introducing the Democracy Program’s work in journalism. Read our prior posts to learn about our goal to create an information-rich region and our first strategy to support this goal: telling the untold stories.In my conversations with people in local media, I have heard many compelling ideas for how to improve the process of developing and telling our region’s stories. Some of these ideas have been tested, others have yet to be attempted. In the Democracy Program, we hope to support innovative activities with the promise to set the practice of local reporting on a more sustainable path. Specifically, we are interested in work that invites partnership, engages the region’s residents, and experiments with new solutions. CollaborationTo optimize limited resources. To leverage complementary skills. To extend reach. To augment impact. Our partners in media cite numerous reasons for informally and formally coll…

Telling the Untold Stories

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This article is the second in a series, written by program officer Andres Torres, introducing the Democracy Program’s work in journalism. Read our prior post to learn about our goal to create an information-rich region. In 2015, 15 locomotives operating in five Chicago railyards were upgraded. There are likely hundreds of locomotives operating at any given time in our region, so are 15 new ones significant? To some, including residents living near those railyards, they might have been. The government invested almost $20 million to upgrade the old engines because they were releasing over 7.5 tons of particulate matter and almost 200 tons of nitrogen oxide annually. The overhauls cut emissions by about 75%, comparable to taking about 10,000 cars off the road.In 2014, concerned citizens noticed healthy trees being cut down in their neighborhoods. There are often worthwhile reasons for taking down live trees, but these residents were unsure. They brought their concerns to a local environme…

Creating an Information-Rich Region

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This article is the first in a series, written by program officer Andres Torres, introducing the Democracy Program’s work in journalism.” Every election, about a night or two before voting, my family gathers to caucus. Over a meal and a drink, we share research on candidates, try to decode any ballot initiatives, and discuss the merits of our options. We were fortunate during Chicago’s recent election to have a range of sources to draw from and inform our debate. New initiatives like Chi.Vote collected articles from local outlets so we could see, for example, education coverage from Chalkbeat Chicago alongside campaign finance data from Reform for Illinois and an article from The Daily Line offering context on the donors fueling the campaign. New outlets and new ventures augmented coverage available from long-standing sources, such as the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, WBEZ, and local TV stations. As we moved down the ballot, however, we had to dig harder to find i…