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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

newspapersLast night, I attended the Association of Women Journalists annual meeting. Initially, I was there to promote my NPO, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. 

In hindsight, it may have not been the best venue to pitch our organization, but I got some great information that I want to share with you.  

Jane Hirt, newly minted Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune, served as the event’s guest speaker. As she centered on the crisis of newspapers and media, Ms. Hirt gave the expected “anti-hunker down” pep talk.

Essentially, journalism is changing. Get used to it.

Wanting information will never go away, but how that information is accessed will always evolve. If that includes moving from one platform to another, then I consider it a small (albeit, inconvenient) change. 

Nonetheless, her suck it up speech was palatable. Mostly, it was because she didn’t sound like a jerk. Nevertheless, how can you sound like a jerk when you have a smile like that?

If you dislike change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.

Maybe journalists take themselves too seriously. Perhaps, so seriously that change seems too ludicrous to even consider. Change, however, is about the ridiculous. There’s very little room (if any) for staid conformity and static values.

In a world where it’s possible to meet your lover or wife online, how can journalists not expect to have their own medium do the same?  Being productive involves remaining relevant. Remaining relevant has nothing to do with the phrase “staying the same” – no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise.

The world likes to fall into this trap of thinking when it comes to success, “Well, that was them and we’re not them.” But, you  know what? They were not always who they were. In other words, Oprah wasn’t always Oprah (as she is now) and online journalism wasn’t always online journalism (as it is now).

So, if you insist on believing that change involves some instantaneous and overnight boom of recognition, creativity and wonderfulness – then close your eyes and wait. While you’re at it – hold your breath.

Widen the scope of your competition.

Ms. Hirt mentioned that when she started RedEye, she wasn’t just competing with other newspapers. She was competing with how people chose to spend their time. Books, sleep, ipods and blackberrys were her competitors as well and factors to consider when launching a newspaper geared toward the 18 to 34 set. 

Consider that the “spirit” of competition is not just about becoming the next Google or Apple. You aren’t just competing with other bloggers or journalists. Remember what you are vying for: people’s time or money (or both) and how they choose to spend it.

Insist on riskiness if you insist on longevity. Manage reinvention…and stay on your toes.

People mistake that if you’ve been around for a long time, you probably don’t have to reinvent yourself. Or, shouldn’t need it. This reminds me of a podcast with Guy Kawasaki and Penelope Trunk mentioning the “democratization” one can enable.

In other words, what are you freeing up (or locking down)?  What ways are you creating access to your product or information? Are you (re)inventing opportunities for people to access it?

Simply, are you a connector or a disconnector?

Reinvention involves risk. But, everyone knows that. And, people like to take what they call “calculated risks.” But, those are iffy too, because the payoffs can be so variable. Even failure can be the better reward.

If you got everything right the first time, how do you know if you are doing anything truly meaningful?

Millennials and a woman’s style of management. Common sense meets youth?

As Millennials enter the workforce, baby boomer-esque management styles will inevitably need to transform. Gen Y’s are less tolerant of the once-a-year performance evaluation and the Big Boss you never see 25 floors up. 

We want collaboration, less hierarchy and to be treated as peers (not wage slave underlings). We take soul searching to the edge because we cultivate our own fulfillment to the maximum. We give ourselves space to grow and opportunities to grow it. That’s where our loyalties lie.

Ms. Hirt mentions that a woman’s style of management appeals more to the Gen Y job seeker. Yet, I like to think that a desiring collaboration has little to do with the womanly style of management (and more to do with common sense). 

It can mean all the difference between a dying industry and a dead one.

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Chicago ElI love where I live. I only have to take one bus to a straight shot downtown. I don’t have to walk very far to get to work. Yet, I trek north several times a week to do my shopping, eating and pub crawling. I’m always glad, nonetheless, to return to my (quiet) South Shore bungalow (or my boyfriend’s Bucktown condo – whichever is closest).

There are busloads of young Chicagoan twenty somethings that believe they should (and could) only live in the following three neighborhoods: Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville and anywhere north.

I once knew a guy that worked for Chicago Apartment Finders. My brain would buzz with shock at how many calls he’d get from fresh (and not so fresh) college grads telling him they could only afford $2300 in monthly rent. Insisting that apartment scouting stick to certain neighborhoods, their missions involve keeping social circles tight. They want to be near friends.  

Like any typical Gen Yer, Chicagoan twenty somethings want to be close to the thriving bar life, local eateries and trendy clothing boutiques that scatter into the various, secluded neighborhoods. I wonder how they justify wanting all those amenities when their potential bar money, restaurant tips and clothing splurges are being devoured monthly in $1200 rent (even with a roommate or two).

Now, that the 3rd coast can boast being the hometown of a president, how will the residential landscape of Chicago change? Instead of the homely, stepchild of the Southside, will more young twenty somethings choose to move a little further south? Will it be cool to live near a president (or, at the very least, live in his neighborhood)? 

I am not sure. That probably won’t happen for a while yet.

But, Obama lives (or used to live) in the Kenwood area, it’s pretty upper crust. So, that’s high hoping if you think that Obama’s presidency could do much to transform the image of Chicago’s southern half.

Unfortunately, most Chicagoans have an uneasy, arm’s length relationship with the Southside. Unless you are a extremely familiar with its trappings, most newcomers don’t even consider living there unless circumstances (and finances) dictate otherwise, if that. The paradox of Chicago is that it is the home of a president and tops as one of America’s most dangerous cities. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Also, with the newest publicity B12 shot of becoming a finalist in the 2016 Olympics, one must ponder the mayor’s latest scheme to use Washington Park as part of the development. This begs  the question: what does Daley plan to do once the Olympics packs up and leaves town (or, never comes in the first place)?

The residential landscape of Chicago may change. Perhaps not. I think despite renewed interest in the Southside, the city’s residential tipping point will remain northward. Young and new transplants alike will continue to flock there. Anything beyond the borders of 57th street will remain highly suspect, inaccessible and “ghetto-ized.” Oddly, lots of interesting young people are merely seperated by geography (and not necessarily class or income).

What’s to become of Chicago once the shiny newness of a president begins to dull?

Whatever it is, I hope it doesn’t screw with my commute.

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flagYesterday, I went to a screening of the (not quite so underground) documentary Chicago 10.  Later, that evening, I also went to see Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna.” 

Essentially, both movies cover war and questions of citizenship, although they are set in two completely different types of political and social climate. The common link, however, is the attitudes of citizenship civilians and soldiers develop during wartime, conflict and distress.  

This particular debate has become even more visible in reference to the government’s treatment of its citizens during natural disasters and economic crisis. Hurricane Katrina has led to a mass upheaval of New Orleans residents from their communities with little government assistance for the repurcussions (not to mention, undercurrents of hostilty towards the survivors). Lousianians currently question their place in America and are forced to renegotiate their sense of community. 

Meanwhile, Washington’s mulling over the finer details of a $700 billion dollar bailout  causes Americans to wonder if the financial package will really put the economy back on a solid financial footing. Understanding the link from Wall Street to Main Street has not added much to the fading confidence of struggling Americans in the US financial infrastructure.

Also, the events of 9/11 which place us in the current turmoil of Iraq have created a murky, muddy strain of answers when questions arise of our involvement (and purpose) in the conflict abroad.

What does this have to do with citizenship?

Plenty. 

Recognizing the interconnectedness from me to you, from state to state, from country to country  (and, ultimately, to the world at large) will be equally challenged by the definition of what it means to be citizen.

Does your citizenship include economic stability (should it?)? Does it include government assistance when you are displaced in your own community? What about recognizing your role in the preservation and conservation of nature and humanity? Does citizenshp imply automatic protection?

The simple side of this argument includes that we already know what it means to be a citizen of [insert country here] – what does it include? What parts do individual citizens play in the larger role of contributing to their own nations and communities? What must we expect of ourselves and others (as citizens of America, of the world)? We shouldn’t be allowed to limit ourselves to its base definition.

I know these are broad questions, but they are meant to start an internal dialoge – and then, maybe foster a debate amongst friends. Then, perhaps, it will spread and people will challenge themselves to re-define a simple little word into something more powerful and brilliant than ever before.

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