The Chicago media has a love-hate relationship with Chance The Rapper. When he donated millions to the public schools, they showered him with praise; a few days later, they portrayed him as a deadbeat. Now, the 25-year-old entertainment phenom is taking control of his narrative (and the stories of others) by acquiring Chicagoist. While some have criticized this venture, the man born Chancellor Bennett could become a Millennial media mogul.
Creating A New Chicagoist
The need for hyper-local news is greater than ever. Former writers and editors of DNA Info Chicago recently launched Block Club Chicago to preserve organic Chicago storytelling. Hopefully, Chance The Rapper's Social Media LLC will follow suit and create a viable platform for mindful content. The last thing we need is a local version of TMZ.
If Chance The Rapper wants diverse voices, he must cast a wide net. In addition to traditional journalists, he needs to partner with local content creators (documentary producers, vloggers, and photographers) to present stories that matter. We have enough depressing stories of poverty. Instead, writers must look for the hope that gets overlooked in the midst of chaos.
One thing I would like to see is more editorial writers of color. We need a 20-something male or female who can be a voice for under-served communities. Unfortunately, more Millennials are known for participating in social media challenges ("Hey Kiki, do you love me?") than speaking truth to power. We can think of a dozen social media comedians off the bat, but we can't name a young writer with the power to shake up City Hall. If the Chicagoist takes the right direction, it could be a think-tank for the 25 to 44 demographic.
Unlike Block Club Chicago, I don't think Chicagoist should create a paywall. Nothing drives viewers away than asking them to pay. You have to create an integrated marketing/ promotions strategy where advertisers build relationships with readers online and in person. Great content makes people want to leave their homes and experience Chicago. The new Chicagoist needs be that interactive brand which helps bring advertisers closer to their audiences.
Whenever the new Chicagoist is launched, it's safe to say that we'll know about it. Chance The Rapper is definitely good for generating his own publicity. But I hope that he's ready for this industry. He can either be a news maker or a guy who makes the news because he failed.