Citywide News

1. chicagotribune.com
Total score: 32.92
Reach: 25
News quality: 4.46
Engagement: 3.46
Chicago’s premier daily newspaper site features good metro coverage with breaking news items and an improved site design that could still be tweaked, such as with a more discerning use of photos (especially less reliance on stock photography for breaking news) and better editing of video offered from site partners. Reviewers noted that a high volume of “breaking news” is police blotter information, but the coverage of the Sikh shooting was considered very high quality by the reviewers. Breaking news is handled in a variety of ways, with some stories being updated in place, while others are rewritten by new reporters. Comments from readers/visitors vary in quality, and Tribune staff–with the exception of a few columnists who have a major reader following–do not tend to engage with commenters on the site, although @ColonelTribune does engage with readers periodically and was a pioneer in using Twitter to engage with readers. Visitors must have Facebook accounts to comment, which associate comments with reader names in an effort to promote better civility on the site.

2. chicagoreader.com
Total score: 32.7
Reach: 24
News quality: 4.3
Engagement: 4.4
The site for this weekly alternative newspaper drew praise for its great journalism and entertaining writing, although reviewers lamented the organization’s diminished capacity for news compared to prior years. Like many other sites in this category, the Reader site is basically integrated into social media but does not regularly use these tools to interact with readers or to share their perspectives.

3 tie. chicagomag.com
Total score: 32.6
Reach: 24
News quality: 4.3
Engagement: 4.4
The website for this monthly magazine drew praise from reviewers for its strong and engaging writing but noted that social media engagement could be more robust. Chock full of lifestyle and personality profiles, this site’s bloggers like Whet Moser provide up-to-date content for the monthly magazine’s online presence.

3 tie. wbez.org
Total score: 32.6
Reach: 24
News quality: 4.3
Engagement: 4.3
Reviewers praised the public radio station’s site for offering in-depth, multimedia coverage that features multiple sources and diverse points of view. The site works to engage listeners and site visitors, using and inviting listener supplied photos and audio and facilitating conversation between reporters and social media followers.

5. chicagobusiness.com
Total score: 31.66
Reach: 24
News quality: 4.26
Engagement: 3.4
This site’s “must-read” bloggers drive regular visits to the site, which contains timely and well-written reporting (if occasionally snarky). Reviewers noted the mix of news and features as well as the quality of the writing and infographics. Comments don’t appear to be moderated on the site and frequently represent extreme viewpoints. Reviewers praised use of Storify, a tool for aggregating interesting tweets, to amplify reader interest and point of view in particular stories.

6. nbcchicago.com/news
Total score: 31.3
Reach: 24
News quality: 3.9
Engagement: 3.4
The site for this TV station covers local news, with an emphasis on crime, though during the review period the exclusive focus was on the Summer Olympics. The site updates stories frequently but often only features one voice until further developments are presented or investigated. Reviewers praised the site’s investigative stories. The site does not use social media to engage in conversation about local coverage but instead to promote its stories.

7. wgntv.com
Total score: 30.7
Reach: 23
News quality: 4.1
Engagement: 3.6
Reviewers found a broad range of content available beyond TV reports on this site. Breaking news is frequently updated throughout the day. The story selection emphasizes local weather and covers more regional, national and international headline stories than other newscasts. The site invites visitors to submit photos and weather updates but does not seem to draw a lot of comments on news stories.  Readers tend to discuss stories with one another on social media, especially Facebook, but WGN staff engages only in a limited way with readers/viewers, usually on Twitter.

8. abc7chicago.com/
Total score: 29.9
Reach: 22
News quality: 4.1
Engagement: 3.8
The online site for this local TV station features hard news coverage, investigative reports and feature stories that are engaging and timely. Reviewers noted frequent updates to breaking news stories and good use of video as well as state-by-state regional news breakouts. While abc7chicago.com utilizes social media, it tends to do so to promote its own staff, rather than sharing additional voices as well, and does not always respond to comments or receive a high number of them.

9 tie. http://chicago.cbslocal.com
Total score: 29.7
Reach: 22
News quality: 3.9
Engagement: 3.8
The online site for this local TV station features hard news coverage, investigative reports and feature stories. While breaking news coverage is often short, it is frequently updated. While the site uses social media to pose questions to followers, the site does not appear to follow up on viewer/visitor comments to drive discussion. Also, the site’s Twitter account does not retweet content from Twitter followers, instead engaging more broadly with its own reporters and other media.

9 tie. suntimes.com
Total score: 29.7
Reach: 22
News quality: 4.2
Engagement: 3.5
The site for this daily newspaper features lively local coverage with frequent updates to breaking news, if thinner news coverage than in years past, and thought-provoking columnists. Reviewers noted the website was “stodgy.” Columnists attract a lot of reader comments, though the paper does not use Twitter to engage with reporters, with few retweets of reader comments and no mentions or interactions with readers. Social media engagement is with staff writers instead.

11. cltv.com
Total score: 27.9
Reach: 22
News quality: 3.2
Engagement: 2.7
This site mostly mirrors WGN-TV and features limited local news beyond traffic, weather and crime. There is little evidence of visitor/viewer engagement or the events they hold. Breaking news is updated regularly. In conjunction with WGN-TV, CLTV uses Twitter to engage with readers and retweets items but has a “quieter” presence on Facebook.

12. vivelohoy.com
Total score: 27.8
Reach: 21
News quality: 3.7
Engagement: 3.1
The online site of this Spanish-language daily newspaper tends to feature coverage that is either national or crime-related. Reviewers were mixed on whether the site gave enough weight to coverage of the issues facing Chicago’s Latino/Hispanic community. Crime coverage appears to be sensational and does not necessarily provide context on the rate or nature of criminal activities. The site uses Facebook to promote content but not to engage in conversation. The site encourages bloggers to contribute content to the website.

13. windycitymediagroup.com
Total ranking: 27.6
Reach: 20
News quality: 3.8
Engagement: 3.8
Reviewers praised this site as information-rich, covering local Chicago news, politics and crime as well as LGBT issues, but also noted that the site’s ad content is overwhelming. The site fosters reader engagement through comments, letters and Twitter. The Twitter feed for the site engages with its readers and facilitates discussion among followers, while the Facebook page is generally quiet.

14. myfoxchicago.com
Total score: 27.4
Reach: 21
News quality: 3.4
Engagement: 3
The site for this TV station covers breaking news, local news and politics with a heavy focus on crime and sports. Stories are concise but showed a drive for ratings in a few areas. While the site operators make use of Facebook and Twitter, they primarily use these tools to 1) promote their own stories, rather than to respond to conversation, and 2) amplify staff and station stories rather than their visitor/viewer voices.

15 (tie). beachwoodreporter.com
Total score: 27.1
Reach: 21
News quality: 3.4
Engagement: 2.7
Offering engaging opinions about daily news, Beachwood Reporter does a better job of providing context for news, especially politics, than producing original reporting. The site also features sports, arts and entertainment. The site uses social media to share its own stories and retweet breaking news from other news sources. Reader voices on the site appear to be limited.

15 (tie). wttw.com
Total score: 27.1
Reach: 20
News quality: 3.9
Engagement: 3.2
The site for this public television station features high quality reporting on a variety of topics, showcasing both written and video coverage. While the site focuses on all of WTTW-TV’s programming, Chicago news is heavily featured. Stories are mostly from Chicago Tonight but feature reporting from other news sources as well. WTTW primarily uses Twitter to respond to reader questions and comments as well as to retweet content related to their stories that that they did not necessarily produce.

17. wgnradio.com
Total score: 27
Reach: 20
News quality: 3.3
Engagement: 3.7
The site for this radio station offers headline news briefs, borrowing heavily from the Chicago Tribune or other local or national sources. Site engages with listeners/visitors via contests and events but showcases few comments for news. @WGNRadio does interact with followers, facilitates discussion and retweets visitor/follower perspectives.

Citywide News: Honorable Mentions
Additional sites that play an important role in Chicago’s online news ecosystem. 
bettergov.org
occupiedchicagotribune.org
news.medill.northwestern.edu/Chicago
telemundochicago.com
twcmag.com
laraza.com
wlsam.com
chicagotalks.org
chocolatecity.cc
chicagodefender.com
cantv.org
feastoffun.com
outsidetheloopradio.com
wrte.org

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What I Read…

Sam YaganFernando DiazValerie DenneyLaura WashingtonEarnest SandersAmbar Mentor Truppa
Where do individuals go, especially those people who are big-time consumers of news because their jobs and day-to-day lives depend on being in the know? A long-time public interest PR professional, the managing editor of a major daily, a well-known columnist and reporter, a South Side community leader, a social media savvy publicist and the founder of a well-known start up took time out of their busy days to tell us what they read to stay informed. Read More