About this blog


Daily News editor Geoff Dougherty blabs about journalism, the Daily News and assorted other subjects

Recent posts


The Daily News Q & A

Last week I wrote that, because of difficulty in raising philanthropic funds,  the editorial staff of the Daily News would be moving on to launch a new, for-profit local news organization.

Apparently my corporate PR skills are lacking, because the announcement gave rise to a wave of questions, confusion and misinterpretations about our plans.

So, in an effort to clear the record, here's a rundown of the common questions we've been asked.

Are you closing down?

Absolutely not. ChiTownDailyNews.org will remain online for the foreseeable future. We are talking with other...more

Some news about the Daily News

The editorial team at the Daily News is moving on to launch a new, for-profit local news venture.

Over the past four years, the staff, volunteers and supporters of Chi-Town Daily News have built an impressive thing -- a new kind of news organization that works aggressively to hold public officials accountable to voters and empowers members of long-ignored communities to tell their neighborhood's stories.

We've been privileged to work with a fantastic group of foundations and other supporters, including the Knight Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Abra Prentice Foundation, and others...more

More about the redesign

We've just wrapped up our first week with the newly redesigned front page, and so far we've received a lot of compliments.

The other day, when we launched the redesign, I wrote about the increased emphasis on blogs, and the decreased emphasis on traditional news stories.

It's worth expanding on this a bit, I think.

The germ of this idea came from a beer-fueled conversation after a Poynter Institute seminar with my friends Matt Thompson and Sewell Chan.

Both argued emphatically that the "news voice" that has long defined the structure, tone and...more

Dear anonymous: Thanks for the $300!

An anonymous donor just gave us $300.

It's a larger gift than we typically receive through the website, so a hearty thanks is in order.

Donations like these help us keep a watchful eye on public officials in Chicago. And God knows, they sure need it.

If you're the anonymous donor, please drop me a line (geoff at chitowndailynews dot org) I'd like to thank you personally.

Meanwhile, can anyone top his (or her) generosity?

About our redesign

If you've taken a peek at our frontpage, you've probably noticed that things are, well ... different.

After roughly a year with the same site design, we decided to tweak some things.

The type and quantity of content we produce every day has changed a lot since our last redesign (for the better in almost every instance, I think).

We've got staff writers covering public health, education, labor and housing, as well as dozens of volunteer neighborhood reporters. And the strength of our photography grows every day.

The redesign is aimed at...more

How I made $45k blogging

The other day I posted about how federal banking regulations have made it possible for Bank of America to purloin $45,000 of Daily News grant money.

What happened afterward is a testament to the power of social media and the Internet.

Monday night, I tweeted the blog post to Bank of America's official Twitter help representative, and I e-mailed a copy of it to B of A's corporate social responsibility office -- the folks that burnish the bank's reputation by helping nonprofits. 

Tuesday a.m., the bank's designated twitterer, David Knapp, requested some more info from us....more

A new kind of bank robbery

One of the things I don't blog about often enough are the challenges and joys of running a small business.

Until I launched the Daily News four years ago, I'd never hired someone, never fired someone, and never had to meet a payroll.

Now I understand all about liquidity, and about how businesses need ready access to cash and credit, and how the recession has impacted that. I can't say we've been helped much by the federal stimulus bill. But I certainly have an idea for another piece of legislation that would dramatically ease the availability...more

We're No. 1!

A new study by the Community Media Workshop pronounces Chi-Town Daily News the No. 1 independent/alternative source for local news in Chicago.

One of the study's main components was looking at how large of an audience local websites reach. So if you're a regular Daily News reader, give yourself a pat on the back. You helped get us the gold.

We've worked really hard over the past year to grow traffic and produce reporting that has some real impact. It's nice to be noticed.

No good deed goes unpunished, though. Some naysayers are already questioning the statistics, and...more

Dept. of multiple media mentions

Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media critic, wrote a great article today on the Daily News.

Meanwhile, Chicago Tonight took an interesting look at local journalism in Chicago in the wake of the Sun-Times bankruptcy. My big mug is featured prominently.


The $2 million newsroom

One of the more tragicomedic moments of yesterday's Journalism Town Hall was the reaction to my assertion that a $2 million online news organization could replace the local-news reporting function of a Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune.

People flat out didn't believe it. I heard pushback on the panel, I heard about it during the break, I heard about it after the event ended.

I don't know what these folks have in mind, but it sounds like a lot of journalists and news observers are convinced it takes tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars to run a robust local news...more

The $100,000 question

At yesterday's Chicago Journalism Town Hall, I suggested that it'd be possible to replace the local-news functions of the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times with an online news operation costing $2 million a year.

A big part of that, I said, would be reporters making $35,000 a year and covering key local beats like City Hall and the County Board.

This idea was met with guffaws. Imagine... Reporters making $35,000 a year.

The group then moved on to consider ways to ensure that talented reporters in Chicago make $100,000 a year or so. 

But the federal Department of Labor...more

Misunderstanding nonprofit news

Nonprofit news has become a hot topic over the past few days. Some people are calling on Warren Buffet to drop a cool billion dollars or so to endow newspapers.

Others say going nonprofit is a cop-out.

Fueling these discussions are a couple of myths about the nonprofit world. Since we've operated in it for three years now, let me dispel them:

* Nonprofit is the easy way out. Ahem. Perhaps you noticed that NPR and Chicago Public Radio just laid off staff. Perhaps you, at some point in your career, have written an article or 12 about...more

Beating the budget crisis

CTA honcho Ron Huberman doesn't have much education experience, but was named today to head the Chicago Public Schools.

Perhaps it's because he came at the right price?


How much for YOUR job, Rod?

It's been a long week here in Illinois (half as warm and twice as corrupt as Florida!) waiting for our governor to resign.

He's got an approval rating well below freezing and no good reason to stay in office.

He can't use the resignation as leverage with the feds, because he's not going to be reelected, and it's tough to govern from jail. Offering to quit a job you can't keep anyway is no negotiating tactic.

And it's not like he can actually get anything done. Productive meetings, at least in Illinois, are prefaced by the idea...more

It's time for journalists to grab a seat at the table

Journalists are, for the most part, watchers rather than doers.

We like to sit on the sideline, take notes and mutter snarky comments to each other. When the doing is done, we weigh in with artfully constructed prose that explains what happened and who stepped in it.

That's a fine approach for most news stories. But when the story is the systematic disembowelment of the industry we all know and love, cynical detachment and dispassionate observation won't cut it. 

It's time for rank-and-file journalists to demand, or seize, a seat at the table and begin forcefully guiding the industry toward...more