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Yazmin Dominguez checks out a copy of the Chicago Reader newspaper at the publication's office in Chicago. Dominguez, 24, is project coordinator for the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, a coalition formed to help the independent local news organizations. (Photo supplied)
By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association
CHICAGO – Yazmin Dominguez is digging up weeds.
The 24-year-old media partnerships coordinator at the Chicago Reader recently took on the role of projects coordinator for the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, which is facilitated by The Reader and recently raised more than $160,000 for 43 of its 62 members.
The influx of funds will help offset massive losses in advertising revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dominguez is going after deeper-rooted issues with journalism and media.
“We as young journalists are passionate about dismantling all the wrongs in the media,” Dominguez said. “I’ll say that for all young journalists. We’re aware of the issues, and we’re going to fix them.”
Dominguez said that for as long as she can remember, she’s been aware of the struggles of journalists – particularly those in marginalized communities, which make up much of the alliance members’ readerships.
“As a young journalist, I think we grew up in an era, starting in 2001, when things started falling apart,” she said. “The media industry is no exception of that. I am a child of immigrants. Going into journalism with that background, you see the industry differently. You see the power of words and the power of publishing.”
As a teenager, Dominguez would leave Huntley High School every day to make it on time for newsroom meetings at The Mash, Chicago Tribune’s teen newspaper. While attending DePaul University, she was a reporting fellow for City Bureau and worked as an intern for Chicago Tonight, where she was hired part-time to work on an aldermanic project – which involved bringing aldermen into the WTTW studio and working on production and online.
It was around that time she heard The Mash had closed.
“Being in Chicago, which has a very lively and active media scene, watching these newsrooms shut down was what made me realize the system is broken,” she said. “[The Mash] was one of the first things to go from the Tribune. That hit me a little different, because that’s where I started as a young reporter.”
As Dominguez begins to unearth the weeds of the industry, she’s going for the roots. She said she’s angry, and that most young journalists are. But that anger can be turned into results.
“We need to fix the roots of the issues to have success down the line,” she said.
During a recent phone interview, she had an unprompted list of issues at the ready – beyond the oft-cited rise of armchair digital journalism and the crash of advertising revenue industrywide.
CIMA recently polled its members on various topics. Of the 48 outlets that responded, 56 percent are unable to offer insurance to their full-time staff. Of 49 respondents, about 86 percent can’t offer insurance to part-timers and freelancers.
That’s not acceptable for a line of work where journalists regularly put themselves in harm’s way in order to inform their readers on how to stay safe.
“That’s really not OK,” Dominguez said. “Them not being able to have insurance or be employed full-time. Some media companies can’t even afford a physical building.”
About one-third of 50 respondents said they don’t have a physical office.
Dominguez said with help on the local, state and federal levels, media outlets would be able to hire more full-time staff and rely less on part-timers and freelancers.
“There just needs to be more funding in the industry,” she said. “The City of Chicago needs to work more with local media.”
Every day, she looks at the CTA ads promoting events, the CTA itself, the U.S. Census, and she wonders, “What if?”
“Why not do an ad buy with a bunch of local media outlets?” she said. “Certain bodies of government haven’t utilized the sort of potential the media has. I think that speaks to the disconnect between the city and its local communities.”
She said there’s strength in numbers, particularly if you bring together dozens of like-minded outlets that are hungry for change and willing to get elected officials’ attention.
“That’s the mindset the alliance has, and it was created in that mindset,” she said.
Mistreatment of the Muslim community after 9/11 wasn’t reserved for run-of-the-mill American citizens. Dominguez said racism abounded in media coverage after the Twin Towers fell.
“Coverage of Katrina also painted the local community in a … not-so-good light,” she said. “Moments like that, young people notice and become disenfranchised. If you’re a young person in the media, you’re passionate for it. Moments like that affect your psyche as a young journalist.”
Dominguez decried editors’ practice of carefully selecting which pictures to publish – which ones capture the demographic they’re after and, in turn, generate the most clicks.
She said she’s optimistic that an influx of young journalists can stem the tide of tired, often misguided thinking.
“People who have been in legacy newsrooms are a bit old-school,” she said. “They’ve been in their position for decades. It can hurt the organization you’re trying to help, and more importantly the community you’re trying to serve. There’s a young crowd of journalists that are hungry and angry, and ready to change how reporting on their communities is done.”
The larger the media outlet, the harder it is to cover communities that are directly affected, Dominguez said.
“It’s the role of local media to fill the information gaps that larger media outlets can’t,” Dominguez said. “It’s glaringly obvious that communities of color are so affected compared to white, wealthy communities.”
Jesus Del Toro, director general of La Raza Newspaper, said the funds raised by CIMA point to an opportunity aching to be seized.
“Those who donated money, it’s an expression of the support of the community,” he said.
His readership still picks up the physical paper and relies on what’s inside of it.
“The Latinx community in Chicago still relies heavily on the print publication,” he said.
Dominguez is heartened to have a new member of the alliance that will also serve a marginalized community. The Cicero Independiente, fiscally supported by City Bureau, was created about a year ago by three young Latinx people, and it joined the alliance 2 months ago. Dominguez said Cicero has gotten a bad rap because of coverage that too often focuses on violence and crime, rather than the rich Hispanic heritage of the community.
Del Toro said local media collaboration has been attempted in Chicago, and has failed.
CIMA is different, he said.
“For the first time in this collaboration of media, we were fortunate to have one specific person doing the coordination of this effort,” he said of Dominguez. “Each of us, all the media and members of this group, have a lot of different interests and content, and problems, and level of resources. One big obstacle through collaboration is coordination. She was a big part of this success. What she provided was the glue we need to have in order to move, and to grow.”
Charlie Meyerson, who’s worked in the Chicago market for more than 40 years, whether in radio, print, or his recently launched independent news site, Chicago Public Square, signed on with CIMA and was blown away by the 24-year-old who accepted nitpicking with a smile.
“People who have worked with me over the decades have learned that I’m the squeaky wheel – this needs to be fixed, or that needs to be reworded,” he said. “She took it all in stride.”
Dominguez said the feedback was invaluable.
“It’s definitely a good problem to have, that we’ve found out people aren’t shy about offering us feedback,” she said. “That external suggestion box has been very helpful.”
Meyerson said a lot of organizations will ask for feedback, then bristle at constructive criticism.
“I can’t remember once being told to tone it down,” he said. “They accepted feedback and acted on it. When they didn’t have the resources to do something, they were forthright.”
This all comes as little surprise for Tracy Baim, longtime Chicago media touchstone and owner of the nearly half-century-old Reader. She saw star power in Dominguez when she interviewed her about a year ago – when the ink had barely dried on the journalism degree Dominguez earned at DePaul.
“She really hit the ground running,” Baim said. “She has a fantastic personality, she’s hard-working and knows the need for journalism. It’s rare to have someone with all her qualities.
“She understands our job here is to save jobs of journalists.”
Yazmin Dominguez works from the Chicago Reader office. (Photo supplied)
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(773) 968-5777 | Mobile
The Lighthouse Church of All Nations
4501 W. 127th Street
Alsip, IL 60803
Pastoral transition in Chicago's largest
**Press invited Sunday, March 26, 2023, at 6 p.m. CST for a
special celebration service**
Having just celebrated 45 years of serving the Chicagoland area, The Lighthouse Church of All Nations is embarking on a new journey. Founded by the Rev. Dr. Dan Willis in 1977, the church grew from 16 people to 6,000 members and is well-respected throughout the world for its integrity, love and commitment to helping others. This nondenominational ministry is home to 72 different nationalities and ministers to more than 700 children and youth every weekend.
The Rev. Dr. Dan Willis, affectionately known as, “Pastor Dan”, has led as senior pastor for these past 45 years and is excited to announce his elevation to bishop. The new senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church of All Nations is the Rev. Garland Mays, Jr. Pastor Garland and his wife, Pastor Farida, have been members and ministers for many years, leading as youth pastors for nearly 15 years. Parents of three sons, they realize the importance of strong families and the role communities of faith play.
This change does not mean “retirement” for Bishop Dan though! His new role allows him to mentor and oversee The Lighthouse while also elevating his opportunities for television ministry, writing, speaking and teaching.
This transition will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 26,in the Main Sanctuary of The Lighthouse Church, 4501 W. 127th Street in Alsip. Free and open to the public, we encourage everyone to join us for this special night.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Katy Brumm Pederson
Project Runway Winner, TV Celebrity and Internationally renowned designer, Jonathan Kayne will be in Litchfield this weekend raising funds for St Jude’s Children’s Hospital and styling prom at My Formals
About Johnathan Kayne: As a successful fashion designer and business owner, Kayne was selected to compete on Project Runway. This experience, his charming personality, and eye for glamorous style propelled Kayne to his own celebrity status. Kayne starred on the TLC special Gown Crazy, and also appeared on E!, ABC, NBC, Bravo, and The Style Network.
In addition to his dress line, Johnathan serves as a fashion expert for Country Weekly, Zuus Country, and NStyle Country. Dubbed as a “genius designer” by Heidi Klum and “a designer who knows how to make clothes and fit a woman’s body” by Michael Kors, his designs have appeared on the world’s biggest stars and most prestigious red carpets. A few of his celebrity clients include Jennifer Lopez, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Kelly Pickler, Tanya Tucker, Britney Spears, Lee Brice, and Rascal Flatts.
Meet Johnathan Kayne at MyFormals this Saturday and Sunday. A donation will be made to St Jude’s for every Johnathan Kayne dress sold.
Johnathan Kayne will be giving fashion tips, showing special pieces from the 2023 Prom & Pageant line and helping girls choose the perfect prom dress for them. Let a design expert help you get the right prom dress for you to make memories.
When: March 4th & 5th
Where: My Formals
1200 N Old Rte 66, Litchfield, IL 62056
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Digital Public Relations Specialist
Ten $1,000 scholarships now open to Midwest high school seniors
High school seniors from Illinois and five other Midwest states have a chance to earn the scholarships
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA — High school seniors from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin now have a chance to receive one of 10 college scholarships worth $1,000. Registration is open now through April 28, 2023. Parents are also now able to register their student.
High school seniors or their parents may register for the ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest. ISL Education Lending will award $1,000 scholarships to 10 students whose names are randomly drawn after the registration period. There are no financial need, grade point average or class rank requirements. The ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship can be used at any eligible institution in the United States.
Registered participants also receive emails highlighting financial literacy tips, such as the importance of early career and college planning and ways to reduce student loan indebtedness.
“Student loan debt is a huge concern for new college students,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of ISL Education Lending. “As a nonprofit, we provide tools and resources to help high school seniors plan so they can reduce the amount of debt they need to take on while achieving their education goals. Students sign up for a chance at a $1,000 scholarship, and we take that opportunity to share information with them about our free resources.”
The ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship is open to legal U.S. citizens who are seniors at a high school in one of the qualifying states during the 2022–2023 school year and who intend to attend college, either virtually or physically, in fall 2023. It is a no-purchase-required program, and full rules and details are available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest.
Additional Resources Available
In addition to offering student loans, ISL Education Lending has other resources for families planning for college and for students who intend to pursue advanced degrees. The Parent Handbook consists of valuable tips to help families of students in sixth through 12th grades prepare for success in college and other postsecondary options. Parents of students in eighth through 12th grades can also sign up to receive twice-monthly emailed tips on academic, college and career planning through the Student Planning Pointers for Parents program. The College Funding Forecaster helps families understand the total cost of four years of college based on a freshman-year financial aid offer. Information about these resources is available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SmartBorrowing.
# # #
About ISL Education Lending
Established in 1979 as Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation, a private, nonprofit organization, ISL Education Lending helps students and families obtain the resources necessary to succeed in postsecondary education. ISL has helped nearly 400,000 students pay for college, offering student loans and other products under the name ISL Education Lending. The organization, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, also provides an array of borrower benefits, financial literacy tools and community reinvestment programs, including support for free college planning services for students and their families. For more information, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org.
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Contact: Stephanie Benson, program chair, at email@example.com
Illinois Reading Council
http://illinoisreads.org and www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IllinoisReads #Illinoisreads
Illinois Reading Council's
2023 Illinois Reads Book Selection
featured at the
IRC Conference on March 9-10, 2023
The Illinois Reading Council (IRC) has just released the list of ILLINOIS READS books for 2023. ILLINOIS READS is a statewide program that promotes reading for all Illinois citizens. The program promotes six books in six different age categories by authors and illustrators who have ties to Illinois. The books range from read-to books for infants to books for adult readers. Bookmarks and posters highlighting the ILLINOIS READS books will be available in early 2023. Order early as supplies are limited!
The 2023 ILLINOIS READS Program will also be featured at the annual IRC Conference in Springfield on March 9-10, 2023. Conference registration is now open for educators, librarians, and others interested in promoting literacy. More information is available at the Illinois Reading Council website.
The ILLINOIS READS book selections for 2023 are:
Ages Birth – 4 Years
Would You Come Too? by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Diana Sudyka
This is Music: Drums by Rekha S. Rajan
Chicago, Baby! by Feather Flores, illustrated by Kelly Leigh Miller
ABC Animals! by Stephen F. Majsak
I’ll Be Your Polar Bear by Justin Roberts
Molly on the Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington
Pighearted by Alex Perry
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
Apple Crush by Lucy Knisley
Three Strike Summer by Skyler Schrempp
A Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad by Glennette Tilley Turner
Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime by Candace Fleming
As Fast As Her: Dream Big, Break Barriers, Achieve Success by Kendall Coyne
Strike the Zither by Joan He
The Wolves Are Watching by Natalie Lund
Darling by K. Ancrum
The Most Haunted House in America by Jarrett Dapier
Stella Keeps the Sun Up by Clothilde Ewing
Elephant’s Big Solo by Sarah Kurpiel
The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor and illustrated by Sam Kirk
Tortoise and Hare: A Fairy Tale to Help You Find Balance by Susan Verde and illustrated by Jay Fleck
Yetis are the Worst! by Alex Willan
Courage by Barbara Binns
The Civil War of Amos Abernathy by Michael Leali
Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa by Julian Randall Tumble by Celia C. Pérez
ReThink the Internet: How to Make the Digital World a Lot Less Sucky by Trisha Prabhu
Underground Fire: Hope, Sacrifice, and Courage in the Cherry Mine Disaster by Sally M. Walker
The Upstairs House: A Novel by Julia Fine
Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America by Cody Keenan
Eat, Drink, and Be Murray: A Feast of Family Fun and Favorites by Andy Murray
Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel by Shelby Van Pelt
The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West
Last Summer on State Street: A Novel by Toya Wolfe
ILLINOIS READS is sponsored by the Illinois Reading Council, a nonprofit organization with close to 2,000 members across the State of Illinois. The mission of the Illinois Reading Council is to provide support and leadership to all who promote and teach lifelong literacy. Book lists from 2013 to 2022 may be found on the ILLINOIS READS website. More information is also available at www.IllinoisReads.org and www.IllinoisReadingCouncil.org.
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