Online Journalism: Spring 2011

the class blog

New News/New Communities initial proposal

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Written by sinker

February 25, 2011 at 12:15 am

Posted in Assignments

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  1. New News | New Communities Site Concepts: Observe and Define

    For this particular project, I decided I wanted to delve into a community that’s fairly unknown to me but that I’m fascinated by. The first thing I did was define the audience that I wanted to deliver to. It may not be known to the common person, but there is a movement taking place right now involving African-American women and what they call “returning to their roots”. It’s a movement that has caused many black women to cease using chemical products on their hair and skin and opt for more natural materials. Embracing their natural beauty and the skin they were naturally born in is the main philosophy of this particular group.
    I’ve found that in recent years, more and more women are joining this movement and I’ve found it quite inspiring. So, the website I wanted to propose originally was a site for all natural beauty products: what to use for hair and skin and what not to, reviews on different products, tips for new “naturals”, salons and shops to go to, etc. There are a lot of aspects to this world and I thought it’d be easy enough to create enough content for a website.
    Then I conducted my interviews. The first person I spoke with, Lisa Coleman, who’s been a “natural” for quite some time, told me that while she’d been into the whole natural movement for a while, she didn’t know much about the do’s and dont’s of it. She also said that she wished there was one consistent, central place where she could find all of the information she needed. Then she gave me some really good insight.
    “Women who opt for natural hair products tend to go for natural beauty products and lifestyles also,” she said. “Bingo!” I thought to myself. A website for the entire natural lifestyle.
    I then talked to Kalan Jones, who’s been a “natural” all of her life. Now Kalan was a lot more informed about this movement. I asked her where she’d gotten all of her information from and she pointed me in the direction of four sites:,, and I checked out all four and saw the main idea of my website on all of them. But there was one thing they all seemed to “lack” in a way, and it brought me back to the point that Lisa had made to me earlier. Women who go natural want the entire natural lifestyle, meaning not just hair and beauty products, but what to eat, how to be in “tune” with their bodies, eco-friendly type tips and so on. I could do that with this website.
    Luckily for me, Patrice Yursick of, one of the sites Kalan had referred me to, came as a guest speaker to one of my classes earlier this week. She is one of the leaders of this movement and her site somewhat serves as the prototype for what I want to do with mine. I was able to speak with her briefly and I told her about my ideas and interests. She told me that it was important for me to differentiate this site from the others out there. She told me to look at all of them and see what’s missing. Once I’ve found that thing, I’ll then have my site.
    With all of that said, this is what I’m proposing as my final idea: a website for African-American women, from the age of 18 to about 45, who want to revert to a healthier, natural lifestyle. From hair, to skin and make-up products, to food, to exercise, to living–this site will cover all aspects of the “new, natural woman”.

    Mariah Craddick

    February 25, 2011 at 1:12 am

  2. This project kind of trumped me in a way because I found it very hard to find something that hasn’t been done before. My initial idea was to create a website where students can trade their books with other students for books that they need. It saves money and time in finding the cheapest book, but when I googled it, there were already about 4 sites that consist of swapping books. So then I was back to square one. I was coming home one night and I saw that at least 3 blocks in my neighborhood didn’t have street lights. This is the second time this year where this has happened. I started coming on to some ideas. The next day, I interviewed a couple of my neighbors to see how they feel about it and what they think a good solution would be or if they would actually use my idea that I was slowly but surely coming up with in my head.
    The first two people I interviewed were an old married couple who lives a couple of houses down from me. Their names are Joshua and Traci Smith. I asked them how they felt about the street lights not being on and to the way the alderman is responding. They said, “I don’ think it’s a good system they have in trying to fulfill our needs. I mean we keep calling and complaining and they still haven’t fixed this problem. It’s been times when I’ve been directed to a voicemail and the mailbox was full so I couldn’t even leave a message.” At this point I was thinking of a website where people in the neighborhood could leave their complaints such as in this case, the street lights being out, and the alderman can see them instantly and act on them. I interviewed another neighbor named Barbara Allen and she said, “I have many complaints that I have but in but no one has yet to act on them. For instance my neighbor moved last year and her handicap parking space sign is still up. As you know, it’s hard trying to find a park on this block and here’s a free space that’s not being used at all but I can’t park their because her sign is still up. I called and keep calling to have it removed but it’s still up.” That’s when I realized that this is a problem and it would be easier on the neighborhood if they can go to w website and file their complaint and then it can be acted upon.
    The website wouldn’t just serve as a place for citizens to complain but also post news about things going on in the neighborhood and to petition to get things done in their neighborhood such as the new street lamps that have been installed a few blocks down but once you hit a certain street they stop. There isn’t a certain website that caters exactly to this need or is in this form. There is the city of Chicago website that gives you information on who to call if you have these problems but not for a certain neighborhood or is as detailed as my idea.

    Samantha Battle

    February 25, 2011 at 2:00 am

  3. OK, i’m sorry i’m a bit over 500 words, but i made two drafts and trimmed it down as much as i possibly could!


    -The initial website idea that I came up with is an interactive journalism site that will indoctrinate democracy into journalism for the first time ever, under the name “The Fantastic, Democratic Journalistic Revolution.” It will be free of any biases, whether they be corporate or political or __________, and it will be used to make people come up with their own opinions, rather than having others come up with opinions for them.

    -We start off with the facts of an issue—say, for instance, the Bailout. We list the left’s side of the argument, we list the right’s side, we list the libertarian and green party arguments, and we list the independent skeptic’s side (like Matt Taibbi).

    No opinions, just popular facts and statistics and arguments.
    At the end of the article will be 7 opinions from staff members. After reviewing all facts equally, the staff will vote on the issue. HOWEVER—before users can read the opinions and reviews of the staff or even an opinion of another user, he or she must vote on the issue and comment on it. After this, the user can go through the opinions of the staff, vote on which staff member came up with the best response to the facts, and then also rate the answers of other users as well.

    The reason we want to do this is to not plant ideas into people heads. They should have the choice of not be subjected to opinions before they make their own. Predetermined viewpoints can give readers biases without them even realizing it and we would like to make them aware of this.

    One of the main ideas here is to analyze all issues—many media heads get away with not talking about issues because they consider them to be conspiracy theories. I agree with them on many of these issues—the Holocaust was obviously not a lie and the Moon Landings, while they could theoretically be planned by Hollywood considering they had the technology, still do not have enough evidence, there are many issues today being disregarded and all someone like Bill O’Reilly needs to do is yell “conspiracy theorist nutjob” and he no longer has to debate the issue. It’s settled because his opponent is insane and delusional.

    But more recently, a man working at Rolling Stone magazine was called a “conspiracy theorist” for saying the Bailout is essentially the biggest scam in history ($800+ billion dollars, anyone?) The idea here is to make people aware that there is such thing as gray area when it comes to conspiracy theories—it’s not all made up fantasy. So we will call this new term “conspiracy fact” because while the media may ignore the issue, it’s still debatable—and what is a theory, anyway? Isn’t Bill O’Reilly’s perception of reality just as much of a “theory” as Keith Olbermann’s?

    So the voting goes like this:
    -If an issue receives 0/7 votes, it is called “Democratically False.”
    -4/7 would be called “Undecided Truth.”
    -7/7 votes would receive the highest rating of “Democratic Truth.”

    Users with the highest ratings (like YouTube comments) will be displayed at the top with the staff’s. Instead of rating each and every staff member individually, however, they will be awarded badges—the reader’s favorite write-up will be given one.
    The more a user participates in talks, the more he moves up in ranks from (for example) “newbie” when he/she begins, and then on to something like “big user” to, eventually and at the staff’s discretion, “Truth Moderator.”

    The ultimate goal is to make thinking cool again.
    As John Waters said,
    “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”
    (Yes, we will bring back reading, too).

    Those who are interested in separating conspiracy theory from conspiracy probably-fact will be interested in this group. The target audience is college students skeptical of their government and corporations, but I would like to see every age group from high school on up interested in what we talk about. The conspiracy crowd, while they aren’t shown in everyday-culture, do exist. I have about 500 friends on Facebook alone talking about the RFID chip implants in humans, who I could easily appeal to. It’s for the people interested in politics fed up with the left-right paradigm… people who are sick of hearing “It’s the lib-tards fault we’re in the recession!” and “The republicans have destroyed this country.” Opinions are multi-faceted diamonds—not two sides of a coin as many view the world.
    The end-all result is to create a revolution in the journalism field, which will lead to revolution in politics and culture and, more importantly, thinking (spirituality too, but that’s too hard to get into here).
    Most of this was all my initial idea. A few people I interviewed helped me come up with new ideas though, like Raul said, “Anonymity is the best truth drug. It’ll make anyone be brutally honest.” Ari added some ideas and said we need a chat room/chatterbox-type thing where online users could talk in a big message board instantly.


    Eliot Kroll –
    -Starting a website called Focused primarily on “self-sovereighty philosophy” and many of Thomas Jefferson’s ideas on an agrarian society to fix society’s problems.
    “It’s focused primarily on the self-sovereignty philosophy, perhaps moreso than traditional conservative sites. I would really like to focuse philosophically on Thomas Jefferson’s idea of the agrarian society and how we can extrapolate that ideology and apply it to today’s world and fix society’s woes, because of how far away from it we’ve come.”
    Eliot said that I needed to develop my goal more.

    Gary Franchi –
    Gary helps run a website called It’s a politically active social networking site. He gave me ideas on what I’d like to see this project become at a later date—in the future, I’d now like to expand this into a social networking site but the beginning idea is to keep it smaller.

    Jack C. Buck – 312 545-3502
    -Jack is very interested in starting a website. I met him while working for 2 weeks at Greenpeace—we quit for the same reasons and hated asking people for money continuously. We share many of the same political views and even some spiritual and cultural. We like some of the same writers and bands and for this reason, I thought it would be a good idea to get another perspective from a person like me.

    Ari Klopfer – (847) 858-0657
    -Ari is one of my best friends and has many ideas for the website, more music related. He believes (I do too) that music does and always will play a huge part in revolutions. He would like to use this site to discover local, independent artists and support them through the use of user votes and reviews.

    Raul Romero and Kelly Bishop-
    I talked to Raul and Kelly because they are a couple in love (Love is one of the most important ideas i would like to put forth), and they are two of the most idealistic youngsters I’ve ever met. They gave me ideas on set up and possibly marketing tactics.

  4. would be a centralized location for professional and pre-professional dancers of all genres to gather information on audition, stages, and special events pertaining to their art. The dance community in Chicago is small; however, like Columbia students, it is distinctly segregated by genre creating a gap in cross-form support, awareness, and networking. Even within each niche genre, communication is difficult, networking is still on the most fundamental level, and audition knowledge comes from advertising oneself to directors, choreographers, word-of-mouth, and companies. There is no central location for dancers of all genres in Chicago to get information about auditions, job opportunities or collaboration activities. wouldn’t be a site for social networking or interaction. It would serve as a starting point for getting opportunities listed whether it be a casting for a music video, a contemporary showcase, or auditions for the Joffrey Ballet. In addition to auditions and news boards, it would also supply information about potential venues available or looking to book rentals for dancers. Most stages are not dancer-conducive in terms of the floor shape and material. According to Christina Gonzalez-Gillett, there are roughly three stages in Chicago built for dancers.

    I had initially just thought of an opportunity board organized by genre for pro and pre-pro dancers, but after talking to Christina, I realized there was a demand for venue research as well. It’s looking at dance and the industry through a different lens. I spoke with a variety of dancers at different points in their career intentionally to get a grasp on a) how things have evolved form when my modern teacher started dancing professionally, b) what is missing, and c) if my idea has any real ground. I have discovered through talking to a currently professional break-dancers, and two amateur ballet, jazz, and modern dancers that there is definitely a need; as they pointed out, especially if someone moves to Chicago from another city without a built in network.

    I found a site similar to what I’m thinking, but London-based. I was very impressed with its credibility, the quality of opportunity posted, and the layout. I would make original but it was great to see an idea very similar to mine that is successful. I think there is definitely a demand, especially as I am part of that market as well.


    February 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

  5. Sex and the Windy City

    New York isn’t the only city that has a sexual side and is serial dating in this crazy world of love, Chicago does too but nobody seems to want to be open about it or talk about it. Shyness is no more with my sex and dating web site idea for Chicagoans. My idea for this site would be a place to for the single Chicagoans to visit OR the taken. It is not a dating site, let’s establish this now, so there is no signing up, no profiles, you view it if you please, think of it as a news site for daters. The sight will offer news worthy dating tips, local seminars, singles nights, sex toy/product reviews, price deals, locations etc. It will be all your local news on dating and sex.
    Justyn Landis says she would be interested in the site, she would not want to pay for it though. “It would be an awesome application for blackberry and iphone users to browse on the cta!” She feels it would maybe fulfill her want of dating. “I do see it being a lot of single women and straight men participating.” She would be interested in seeing some sexual health tips, sexual emotional health blogging (tips, stories, social commentary) and events for singles on the site, but she says she wants “more than events featured only at bars.” I like her suggestion of the health tips. Maybe Chicago clinics offering free STD testing, sex education speakers etc.
    Chris Schmitt says, the only downside would be not being able to control what people use this site for. But, however, Schmitt says, “I’m sure it would help fulfill to play its roll in finding a significant other and be a great source of finding dates and meeting new interesting people.” Schmitt is interested in seeing do’s and dont’s on a first date, tips on dating, and tips on alcohol consumption on a date. This is an interesting point, sometimes too much alcohol consumption can be detrimental to the future with this person, or put you in danger.
    Shardae Smith says, that seminars would be interesting, and hopefully they would be able to answer questions she has and meet people. “I think the world needs it, not just Chicago. Sex is really taboo and I have no idea why.” She fears that it may attract some crazy people so that is something to think about. She would be interested in seeing things like general news about sex, new findings, and toys and tips on this web site.
    Sabrina Maruszewski, thinks this site possibly would interest her and fulfill her needs, but would be concerned of shady people. “Yes chicago does need a site that would serve the sexual side. I’d like to see places to hang, parties, etc.. that revolve around singles on the site,” says Maruszewski.
    Sarah Rade says, “I like the idea about news on sex and dating. I’m assuming that stuff would be articles on romantic places in Chicago and good places for dates and why.” She would like to have information about std’s and stats on what is going around Chicago on the site and where users would be registered seems like a nice idea to her.
    After talking with my sources, it seems they are all interested in areas around Chicago to meet singles like some seminars, restaurants, and information on STDs, maybe clinics that do free testing. Shardae Smith is interested in sex toy information and other sex information so maybe a section of the site devoted to sex and a section devoted to dating and relationships. Take your pick, or take both!

    Contact/emails on paper copy

    April Barkley

    April Barkley

    February 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

  6. My initial idea for this project is to create a web site that allows Chicago residents to view, in great detail, every location where every movie/TV show was filmed throughout the area. Viewers of the site would get a chance to explore Hollywood’s history throughout Chicago and view images, as well as background information, of where some of the most historical Chicago films were shot. Internet surfers may also learn new information about films they didn’t know were filmed in Chicago.
    Here is a basic walkthrough of the site. A local Chicago resident is curious to learn about what movies were filmed in Chicago. They find my site and open the page. The page will feature a list of all of the films that have been filmed in Chicago. The person would click on a movie that interests them and up comes a map of Chicago with bullet points of every location used while filming. The viewer would then click on a location and a new page will open up. This will feature all the information one needs to know about filming at that particular location. The page will also feature a before and after shot. The before shot will show what the site looked like while filmmakers were filming there. The after site will feature a current photo of what the location looks like now.
    As far as news is concerned, the site will also feature information regarding any film/TV projects that are either currently being filmed in Chicago or soon to be filming in the city. Information about where and when filming may take place will also be available.
    The overall purpose of this site is to appeal to movie lovers in Chicago. Film buffs who are curious about local media productions past or present will find every bit of information they need from this site. The site can also reach a broad enough audience to appeal to everyone. Who doesn’t enjoy movies? Since Chicago is not L.A., people will always be curious about big Hollywood productions being filmed in their hometown.
    Regarding interviews, I basically walked around the city and asked a few people what they thought about the idea. Loyola student James Andrews thought the site could be quite fun and entertaining. “I love movies so a site that pin points every location where a movie was filmed in Chicago would be pretty cool,” Andrews told me. “But it has to be easy to use.” Chicago resident Steven Jurkovic told me that there would have to be a lot of detail in the site if he wanted it to be good. Of course a site like this would require lots of specific information that pin points a particular place and time. This is the one thing I learned through talking to people about this site: a lot of time and research will have to be put into this site to make sure every piece of information is accurate in correspondence with the film.

    Brian Stephens

    February 25, 2011 at 10:48 am

  7. In my suburb of Oak Park and in those surrounding it, there is a large group of the younger generation who enjoy going out to bars at night or on weekends. In the neighboring suburb of Forest Park, there is a collection of over a dozen bars all in the stretch of a few blocks on Madison Avenue. This is a popular area for nightlife. However, in my personal experience, it is hard to find information on the internet about those bars or others in the area. Only a tiny handful actually have sites, and few update them with drink specials or performances. I am proposing a directory-style web site that would list all the bars and restaurants that are open later to serve alcohol in my area. The site would include the following info on each location: address, style of music often played, demographic info about frequent customers, drink and bar food specials, performances, and whether or not there’s a cover charge on popular nights. There would also be interactive maps for each location.

    1. Do you/have you go to the bars in the Oak Park area? (Madison Ave in forest park, etc).
    2. Are you ever curious to know what the drink specials are at the different bars in order to decide where to go?
    3. If so, describe your experience in trying to find this information. (Do you call the bars, use the internet, etc? Was it easy or hard to find the info?)
    4. If a directory website was made listing all the drink specials, performances, etc for bars in our area, would you use it before going out?

    Logan: (lives in River Forest)
    1. Yes, once a month, typically. Maybe twice.
    2. YES
    3. Calling individually is too much work- i’d have to find the #s of a bunch of different places. And looking online, a lot of the time they aren’t updated regularly. So usually I just drive up and down Madison to see for myself what is going on.
    4. I would definitely use that website! That would be so great, especially if it listed not just drink specials, but also performances and entertainment. It actually would encourage me to go out more to the bars, too.

    Veronica: (lives in Oak Park)
    1. Yes, I have been going to Madison Street bars since I turned 21.
    2. Yes, I am always looking to save a buck.
    3. In order to find the specials, you have to call the bars. I have not been able to find them online. The bars themselves do not have websites. It is not an easy task!
    4. That would be awesome and make my life so much easier! I would use that website every time before I went out.

    Lauren: (lived in River Forest, now in Berwyn)
    1. Yes, I go to bars on Madison in Forest Park
    2. Yes, I like knowing drink specials, I usually ask one of the bartenders what they are for the night as soon as I get to the bar. Knowing them ahead of time (like form websites and such) may also effect what bars I go to on what nights.
    3. I sometimes look up drink specials on the bar’s website, but usually ask a bartender as soon as I get to a bar. If the specials aren’t good or I know of bar with better specials for the night then I would probably leave and go somewhere else.
    4. Definitely! I would definitely use a website like that and check it before I went out to the bars and use it to figure out what bar/bars I will go to that night.

    Mariana: (lives in Oak Park)
    1. I am the hostess at Duckfat, a restaurant and bar on Madison Ave in Forest Park, so I go out a decent amount.
    2. I am always on the lookout for where the best deals are.
    3. From experience, only a few of the bars/restaurants on Madison Ave have websites, so I’ve found it hard to find detailed and accurate info.
    4. That would be great! One place to find all the info I want to know before I go out would be really helpful to me, and I know lots of my friends who live in the area would appreciate it too.

    Alicia Plomin

    February 25, 2011 at 11:16 am

  8. New News | New Communities Site Concepts: Observe and Define

    For this project, I thought about things I’m interested in. Photography came to mind. So I thought what about a Chicago Photography website that would link all the photograhers together and create a list of gallery openings and news that is happening in the Chicago area. Except when I talked to a professional, Peter Thompson, he didn’t think that was a good idea. Why not google it? Why go to a site that filters out this information and from an unknown photographer?

    So my idea shifted to students. What about student photographers. As a student, I wanted to see more galleries and support the local artists. It would tell about upcoming exhibits and workshops for students to attend. Also it would include outside resources like darkrooms for students to take advantage of when they’re not in school. The site can also offer as a forum for their work. Another student and pro. photographer at Columbia, Brent Knepper suggested the forum, because student photographers are always looking for feedback on their work. He said to make it user-based, so their will be sincere critiques.

    There aren’t other student-based photography groups out there. I’ve seen plenty of directories for people to use to find a Chicago photographer, but this will serve as a portal and a way for Chicago photographers to socialize and get connected. I realized that my final audience isn’t all photographers in Chicago. That was too broad, and in the art world I don’t I have a name for myself. So lets make this a student community.

    Peter Thompson-
    Peter Thompson is a Digital Imaging II teacher at Columbia College. He helped me refine my audience. As a pro. photographer, he felt that there wasn’t a need for a Chicago photo website, but such a website would best help beginnings/students.

    Brent Knepper-312-607-7786
    Came up with the forum idea for students to get connected and offer feedback to each other.

    Jacob Boll- 815-378-3482
    Wanted studio space listings and just a way to network with contact info. He thinks such a site would help a lot of photographers with lessons on it. Etc. He is also into the forum idea.

    Kevin Serna-224-587-5755

    Forum. Again. People love forums about different topics. New cameras..equip. Where are jobs. He helped reinforce my previous ideas about the website.

    Jacob Malachi

    Jacob also listed the forum idea to keep in touch with other photographers and to throw around some ideas, but I thought his prompt idea was really interesting “and maybe if the site incorporated a kind of challenge or assignment, it would provide structure of consistency in my shooting”. We could add prompts and also show some of them in a slide show on the site.


    February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  9. The name of my website is Commuter Cooler,, and it is tailored to the needs of undergraduate and graduate college students in the Chicago area who commute to school every day. The objective of this site is to provide a resource to meet their needs. From the best street routes or transit options, student organizations and activities, to weather forecasts, Commuter Cooler will be a central hub of information and a way to connect with other commuting students.

    My audience comprises students who attend colleges and universities in the greater Chicago area, but who have to commute to get to school, either by the CTA, Pace, Metra or driving in. It is catered to this community for the sole purpose of meeting their multi-faceted needs. Commuters can also feel estranged from the students who live on campus because of several elements, and it is the objective of this site to address these concerns.

    Shared common spaces like dorm rooms and cafeterias give on-campus students more opportunities to connect with their friends and classmates. But commuters are usually in limbo, and since home is away from campus, they can feel left out and detached from everyone else. It’s like clocking in and out of a job; they go to school there, but they don’t live there and can feel like they’re living two separate lives.

    To bridge that gap, Commuter Corner will provide information, giving commuters a sense of belonging and involvement. They can start their day right by finding the fastest or easiest way to get to school. CTA, Metra and Pace information will tell them which routes have delays, how much extra time they should allow for travel, or which ones to avoid altogether. They will get similar information for traffic: fastest routes, accident information, and construction delays.

    But their on-campus dynamic is what is critical. On a campus like Columbia College Chicago’s for example, Commuter Corner will glean information from several offices and bring it to one place. Here they can get detailed information about student organizations and how to get involved, student common spaces for socializing, common study spaces, study groups with other commuters, even places to crash and take a nap between classes. Commuter Cooler will provide information about nearby restaurants that can accommodate a student’s budget and will also tell students which eateries offer student discounts.

    In order for Commuter Cooler to be effective the student body has to know about it and have easy access to it. When students register for classes and they indicate that they are commuters, they will automatically receive an email with an active link. When they click on that link they are directed to Commuter Cooler where they create a profile. That profile will give them access to all the features of Commuter Cooler. The message board forum will be an easy way for students to ask questions and share and receive information pertinent to commuters. Commuter Cooler will also be available through Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

    Yari Osborne

    March 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm

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