Total score 27.73
News quality: 3.6
Once a vehicle to cover former Ald. Helen Shiller, this blog now covers news (mostly politics, business and crime) as well as features and local community events. It also contains a neighborhood feed from EveryBlock. It’s not clear from the site who is publishing the content, but the site features engaged readers who comment on stories. The site publisher engages with readers via Facebook, sharing reader photos and entering discussions with readers.
Total score: 25.93
News quality: 4.33
This is the website for a weekly newspaper covering South Loop, West Loop and the Near West Side. In addition to newspaper coverage, the site features a blog for each of the three neighborhoods it covers. Stories generate some comments, but there is not a lot of engagement among readers, or between readers and the Journal, on social media or on the site.
Total score: 24.8
News quality: 4.3
This online-only site covers Lincoln Square, Center Square and Ravenswood Manor. One reviewer said, “If I lived in the communities that they focus on I would be on this site every day,” praising both the site’s content and the Twitter feed. The site features multiple perspectives on news items and has a clean design. Readers have conversations with each other via social media and serve as a source of news, but the reviewers did not see site publishers engaging with readers.
Total score: 24
News quality: 4.2
A site for a weekly newspaper run by University of Chicago students that covers South Side culture and news, Chicago Weekly’s publication schedule tends to follow the academic year.
Total score: 23.73
News quality: 3.33
This site offers community news for Andersonville and Edgewater. One reviewer says it hits “all the marks for hyperlocal news” with links to local services such as nearest school, police station or neighborhood group. The site content is heavy on events and community notices and does not always carry follow-up to community activities. Feature stories do include multiple perspectives. The “about” pages list staff by email so readers can contact them. Reader engagement is strongest on Facebook, where the publication runs contests and responds to readers.
Total score: 23.5
News quality: 3.3
Pilsen Portal is an informational clearinghouse that is part of the Smart Communities Program (http://www.smartcommunitieschicago.org/index.html), with 17 organizational partners. The site publishes stories in English or Spanish, and community members are encouraged to contribute. The site is heavy on calendar listings and aggregation but also provides community resources. Reviewers complimented the site’s use of video and photography. Reader engagement appears to be limited on social media.
Total score: 23.5
News quality: 3
Sloopin covers the South Loop, especially business stories and other media coverage of the South Loop. The site is mostly feature news with less of an emphasis on hard news. It’s not clear from the site who provides the coverage, but community contributions are welcome. The site uses social media to promote coverage but not to engage readers.
Total score: 22.92
News quality: 3.46
The student newspaper of Columbia College covers both campus and the South Loop “surprisingly well,” with some metropolitan news mixed in as well. The site makes good use of photography and videos, and the stories feature multiple perspectives. The site best engages its readers on Facebook, with less engagement on Twitter.
Total score: 22.63
News quality: 2.3
This site covers Wicker Park and Bucktown and publishes an e-newsletter as well. Coverage comes from reporters, reader-contributors and local businesses/sponsors. Stories vary in featuring different perspectives. The site prominently features its latest comments on its front page. It also goes out of its way to thank its donors, especially one donor who helped them buy a new computer for the site. Site offers a participation hotline but doesn’t define what it means by participation.
Total score: 22.5
News quality: 3.7
This website is the online home of a weekly newspaper covering Beverly Hills, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood. Content is pulled mostly from the weekly newspaper, and the journalism features multiple perspectives. The site does not accept comments but does post letters to the editor. It also seems to have limited use for Twitter but has had better success in drawing reader comments from Facebook.
Total score: 20.9
News quality: 2.9
Although the exact boundaries of the site’s coverage are not entirely clear from the site, its main focus is Lincoln Square. The site’s offerings have won journalistic awards but reviewers wished for a more consistent volume of coverage. The site makes good use of Twitter and Facebook to ask audience questions but doesn’t always get responses. Reviewers praised the site’s editorial mission statement and ethics policy.
Neighborhood News: Honorable Mentions
Additional sites that play an important role in Chicago’s online news ecosystem.