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Let’s Make a List of Useful ‘Mediathings’ in Illinois

Mom blogs. Prison newsletters. Neighborhood Facebook groups. Help us make a list of where Illinoisans get specific information.

Logan Jaffe/ProPublica Illinois

This story first appeared in ProPublica Illinois’ weekly newsletter. Sign up for that here.

What is a “mediathing?” Good question, because I just made it up. I’ll lay out in a second what I mean by “mediathing,” but first I want to let you in on my plan.

I’m trying to create a publicly accessible list of outlets where Illinoisans get information besides local mainstream* newspapers, TV or radio stations. Why? There doesn’t seem to be a resource like this out there, and the value could be huge. For one, I’d like our reporters at ProPublica Illinois to learn about and keep tabs on stories and discussions happening around the state that we might otherwise miss. And two, documenting where we, as Illinoisans, get our information could not only open doors to new audiences for those outlets but also inform how we at ProPublica Illinois shape and deliver our own reporting. It’s a chance to showcase the variety of media, communities and conversations that exist in Illinois.

But ... I can’t do as thorough a job creating this list on my own as we could together. I’m one person in Chicago. That’s not going to work. So, I’m asking you for help to make this list representative of the state.

So what do I mean by “mediathing?” Here’s a start:

  •, a website and resource on all things family-life in Champaign-Urbana, and Smile Politely, an online magazine also in Champaign-Urbana.

  • I Am East St. Louis, The Magazine is a print publication that aims to “change the minds of those who believe negative contemporary legends about East St. Louis.”

  • Illinois Prison Talk, an online forum and resource for people who have some connection to the state’s prison system. Members can ask each other questions and offer advice on navigating the system, among all sort of other features, including a page displaying inmate art, and another archiving issues of Stateville Speaks, a print magazine “made by and for the prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections.”

  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society monthly newsletter, which posts PDFs of its issues online. The newsletter contains news from historical and genealogical societies around the state and original articles.

  • TBTnews, founded and run by Chicago’s Carl West, has a popular daily newsletter (you can subscribe to it on the right side of his page). West writes about issues that affect life on Chicago’s South Side from the perspective of a black professional and entrepreneur. (h/t City Bureau)

So, what about you? Are you part of a Facebook group for [insert the name of your town] moms? A member of a WhatsApp group for people new to the area? Do you frequent the bulletin board in the entrance of your favorite diner? Belong to a listserv that helped you find the cooking ingredients that remind you of home?

You can let me know by tweeting me @loganjaffe or emailing me at [email protected]. I’ll keep you updated on what we learn.


* “Mainstream” is a complicated word these days, I know, especially when it comes to media. Just focus on the “mediathing” suggestions instead.

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Portrait of Logan Jaffe

Logan Jaffe

Logan Jaffe is a reporter for newsletters at ProPublica.

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