Posts Tagged ‘chicago’

When you interview a group of teenagers who drum away on buckets like there’s no tomorrow, the last thought on your mind is that one of them will end up shot on a South Side street, in clear daylight.

On Dec. 21, Andre Hunter, 19, was allegedly shot five times by 18-year-old Iman Frison. The shooting took place at 2:40 p.m. near the 7700 block of South Stewart Avenue, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Having left Chicago in 2010, an old friend sent me a link to the news story.

After opening the link, I just sat in my chair, stunned at the news.

In early 2009, I had briefly interviewed and taped Hunter, along with three other “Bucket Boys” playing in the underground tunnel that connects the Red and Blue line stops at Jackson.

It was — and still is — one of my favorite works as a journalist. The boys loved the idea of being interviewed, and I loved the rhythm and passion they put into their music.

I couldn’t imagine something this bad happening to one of them. But perhaps I should have.

One of the first things that caught my eye when I moved to Chicago in mid-2008, was how little room was given on newspapers to shootings and local deaths. It gave me the impression that what was happening was either not that relevant or perhaps it was just so ordinary, it didn’t deserve more than 10 brief lines on page 24.

Perhaps that is exactly the problem.

There are urban areas across the country (and Chicago’s South Side is definitely among these) that can be considered as dangerous as any war zone in Afghanistan or Syria.

Until these deaths — and the deaths of this country’s youngest — are not front and center in the media, no one will pay attention.

Many times in the past, news organizations have supported or brought forth social battles that turned out to improve the nation as a whole.

Perhaps it’s time to take a few minutes away from the default and debt conversations that are hammered in our brains every change of the political season, and dedicate that time to telling millions of viewers/readers/listeners that there is a war inside the U.S. boundaries.

And it’s time to start talking about it seriously.


Lettera scritta a Beppe Grillo il 18 marzo 2010:

Caro Beppe,

Ogni giorno leggo il tuo blog da Chicago, dove vivo ormai da due anni e faccio il giornalista senza aver bisogno di tessere o affiliazioni politiche. Le rivelazioni degli ultimi giorni sulle pressioni esercitate dal presidente del Consiglio su certi personaggi del mondo delle comunicazioni e la completa sottomissione di quest’ultimi mi spingono ad esprimere tutta l’amarezza che questa situazione sta creando in me.

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When I was first hired as editor at a local free-press magazine in Rome, Italy, I came with ideas, enthusiasm and willingness to work as hard as I could to increase readership.

The publisher looked at me and said without hesitation: “That’s all wonderful, but in the end all I care about is that you get advertisers in. I don’t really care if no one reads the magazine.”

The struggle to make any news business profitable and keeping it interesting at the same time was at the center of the second half of the Chicago Media Future Conference, held at Columbia College Chicago on Saturday, June 13.

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As I read about newspapers filing for bankruptcy (Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times), cutting down on home-delivery (Detroit Free Press and Detroit News), or even going online-only (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), I can’t stop thinking about what is at risk here: a plurality of voices that can guarantee a democratic society’s ability to thrive and – most importantly – to improve itself.

A strong and healthy newspaper industry allows people to be aware of and meditate about the changes the world is going through. More newspapers in a city or country means more articles and more opinions, which ultimately lead to a debate about what is viewed as wrong or right about a certain issue or topic.

Societies evolve through debate, and newspapers have represented the battlefield for many causes, from the Civil Rights movement to the on-going struggle to guarantee equal rights for women and same-sex couples.

The reason why newspapers are vital is because they allow readers to respond, to let the editors and reporters know what the public thinks. Letters are published and a discussion might soon start and lead to more articles, more opinions.

Don’t get me wrong, broadcast media are just as important for a democratic society’s success. The difference, though, is that radio and TV (especially) are more efficient at quickly spreading the news, not allowing in most cases people to think about what they just saw and heard.

Another problem shows up if the news they spread is pretty much all the same (that’s what is happening in the TV news market in Chicago). The efficiency of TV news – in this case – is limited.

On the other hand, the newspaper is something that can be kept, read over and over again, passed around.

The news on the internet? Its potential for debate is even greater than that of newspapers. Unfortunately, the enormous amount of information out there can scare away many people.

The newspaper instead concentrates everything inside its one daily issue, in which you can find all the news you need to know and many starting points for a healthy discussion at home, at the workplace or even on the bus with a total stranger.