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Tribune silences the voices of many

Tribune silences the voices of many

May 20, 2024

In 2014 I joined a blogging community hosted by The Chicago Tribune. Jimmy Greenfield launched and ran ChicagoNow for eight years. He seemed to have a Phd in community building, guidance and cheerleading. The ChicagoNow community was strong because of him. In a Facebook post he shared that ChicagoNow published "well over 100,000 posts over the years"and "hosted 300 active blogs and drew 25 million page views a month."

The name of my blog is Writing My Mind. I developed my voice and grew into the writer and activist I am today because I had that outlet and exposure. I started out with silly relatable posts like No Bras Allowed. In the end I wrote about antiracism, social justice, activism, LGBTQIA+ visibility and culture. Chicago now regularly featured my posts on the ChicagoNow landing page.

Some posts attracted local and national attention. I appeared on Chicago Tonight with Phil Ponce and theatre critic Chris Jones because of a blog post. On NPR's The Story I spoke with Dick Roberts because of a post I wrote about Haiti. I don't think I'd be a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant or have my business Tania's Take if it weren't for ChicagoNow.

On August 18th, 2022 Tribune Publishing disabled ChicagoNow without warning or communication. In an instant the efforts of hundred of individuals was gone with nary a trace. I exported my blog to Wordpress on the recommendation of other ChicagoNow bloggers. They knew what was coming but didn't know when. Tribune Publishing never responded to any inquiries or communicated with anyone. Along with the platform writers lost contact with their subscribers.

I hadn't been on Facebook for awhile. If I hadn't checked it a few weeks ago I would have lost everything. It's a reminder for all content creators to archive our work and make sure we have control. TikTok and Instagram content creators are at the mercy of those platforms. We need to protect out work and archive it elsewhere.

The ChicagoNow community of bloggers is still alive and well. Leaders have emerged and there is daily communication on how to carry on as a collective. The encouragement to keep writing is strong and inspiring.

Some people feel too overwhelmed by the notion of starting over. Not everyone feels equipped to run a blog on their own. ChicagoNow was free. Other platforms come at a cost some people can't afford. Tribune publishing isn't obligated to provide a free platform. Was the fact that it was free a good thing? Yes. What seems easy for some is unattainable to others.

As a Black woman I expressed my truth on a platform that reached masses of people I couldn't reach on my own. Whether it was a major event like the murder of George Floyd or my personal battle with covid or racism I wrote my mind. I felt heard by Jimmy Greenfield. I felt heard by people who shared and interacted with my posts. I felt empowered to expand my reach and believe that my point of view mattered. I found purpose as an antiracism activist and storyteller.

I will keep writing. I have no choice. It's a defining part of who I am. I am forever grateful for ChicagoNow. See, what it did was give access. It leveraged its power to give voice to others who don't have the same. That is no small feat. It's unfortunate that Tribune Publishing doesn't see the value in that.

I can't link the blog posts I reference because I haven't activated (made public) the Wordpress site where they are archived due to the monthly cost.

If you would like to support the activation of that site, Tania's Take podcast or my writing in general you can buy me a coffee here.

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