Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Adios Chicago Journal -- You Will Be Missed!

The Chicago Journal, our local weekly newspaper and website focused mainly on the South Loop and West Loop, is closing up shop.  And for that we are sad.  Their articles and content were a weekly fixture that we came to love and rely on (especially since it came out midweek -- and helped push us over the "hump" and monotony of the work week).  They're having a party this evening at Donna's Cafe (1255 S. State) from 7-9pm.

On a personal level, before we moved to the South Loop, we relied on the Chicago Journal to help us gather information and get a better understanding of the neighborhood.  For that we're forever indebted.

Here at Sloopin this news is complicated.  Sloopin was mainly dreamt up as a blog focusing on everything and anything to do with the South Loop.  At it's inception we weren't sure what it would grow into or what it would ultimately be, but we wanted it to be a resource for the neighborhood -- for good and bad.  

The idea mainly came because we wanted more information -- on a more timely basis -- and more consistently.  While the Chicago Journal was the best resource for the neighborhood (in our opinion), it was still lacking in those key areas.  Couple that with the power and relative ease of digital technology and Sloopin was born on September 22nd, 2008.

At the start of Sloopin, traffic was pretty much nonexistent and it felt more like an experiment.  But we enjoyed the process, we enjoyed the neighborhood and kept pushing on.  Slowly but surely we gathered steam and Sloopin began to grow.  While we relied on a variety of content sources ranging from our own stories, to reader emails/comments, to other publishers (including Chicago Tribune, Crain's, Sun-Times and yes the Chicago Journal) producing Sloopin was hard work.  

While we're not sure if our growth or presence caused the Chicago Journal to realize that they needed to evolve their digital presence, they did.  The major change was the addition of bloggers.  Micah Maidenberg's Near Loop Wire launched on May 5th, 2009 along with neighborhood stalwart Bonnie McGrath's blog, South Loop Observer.  There was also a short lived Sidewalk Observer blog by Blagica Bottigleiro which launch on May 2nd, 2010.  All three blogs added additional voices and information to the neighborhood, which seemed like a good thing to us (we even shared some links back and forth).     

But the recent news on the closing is a reality many publishers are facing (including us at Sloopin).  How to make ends meet with new technologies constantly disrupting older business models.  You will see it at our hyper-local level as well as at some of the most prestigious and biggest news organizations around the world.  

How to operate a news organization in the new digital reality is a perplexing question.  There are many varying opinions on the best way forward.  The reality is that the nut hasn't been cracked yet.  It will slowly play out and hopefully take us to a better place.

Here at Sloopin we're an extremely lean operation.  We don't have enough revenue to make this a full time job for anyone.  We simply produce Sloopin because we love the South Loop.  We don't have the bells and whistles of a typical news organization and frankly we don't have a traditional journalistic background.  Hopefully you forgive us for our spelling errors, grammatical errors and whatever else we do wrong.  We've received a mix of praise, ambivalence and hate -- honestly we love it all!

But back to the main topic of this post.  The Chicago Journal is closing and with that our neighborhood will no doubt be missing something.  They did a solid job covering topics pertaining to our neighborhood and for that we applaud the entire team.  Thanks for all your hard work and for all you did to make the Sloop a better place!

Finally, with all of this said we're curious to hear your thoughts.  How do you like Sloopin?  How can we fill the gap left by Chicago Journal?  What do we do well and where can we improve?  Any new ideas or improvements you would suggest?

As always, we will do our best to evolve Sloopin.  Thanks for all your support, comments, pictures and stories.  Without you it wouldn't be possible!


Lizz Hellinga said...

This is sad news. I've relied on the Chicago Journal for last decade I have lived in the South Loop. Our community needs the Sloopin to continue its good work even more now that the Chicago Journal is ending. But we also can't be passive readers. Are there things the readers can do to help Sloopin continue its pasth and grow?

Jim in the Sloop said...

Any chance of Sloopin picking up one or more of the blogs? I certainly run hot and cold on Bonnie, but she usually has something interesting to say.

Sandeman said...

Is there any real reason why I am particularly supposed to care about this?

Anonymous said...

yes there is.

Sandeman said...

and that would be.......?

Sandeman said...


Anonymous said...


Some questions can't be answered since the very fact that it was asked indicates that the person asking the question has no basis for understanding. Newspapers form an important part of culture and their gradual loss is another indication that culture is changing, and may of us think not for the better. I suggest you do a little reading into the history are societal roles of newspapers and then come back with some questions.

Anonymous said...

How will we recieve SLOOP? Do we have to go to the website or can we recieve it as a regular email. We loved the Journal and now Sloop will be the only way to get local stuff.

Paul Botts said...

"I suggest you do a little reading into the history are societal roles of newspapers and then come back with some questions."

Translation: I'm a gutless anonymous troll with nothing meaningful to actually say about this topic, but empty intellectual snobbery never stops being a good time. Thanks again Sloopin for making my fun so easy by allowing anonymous comments!

Anonymous said...

The effects of the loss of the Journal--or any neighborhood based news venue--reaches far beyond readership. I just started advertising my store in the Journal when I learned of its pending closure.
Businesses who advertised in the Journal will suffer some loss, the people employed by these businesses may suffer loss, and the domino effect continues. I hope the void left will be filled by a non-partisan recorder of news and events, Journal style.