The Future of (Chicago) Journalism – Part IV – A Chicago Idea

June 1 Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader writes that veteran (and just retired) Channel 7 political reporter Andy Shaw is “rarin to remake the Better Government Association as a stand-along bastion of investigative reporting.” Two quotes stand out: one about the big website Shaw wants to create at BGA and a second about how he wants to fund it: andy_shaw

The days when the BGA basically did not exist independent of the media it attached itself to are over, Shaw thinks. So he wants to create his own medium—a high-visibility, interactive, proprietary Web site that will act as a “central clearing house” for every last scrap of significant information that the public needs to know about its governments. “Ground zero,” Shaw calls it.

Every last scrap. Wow. Impressive. If he succeeds, he will have transformed the BGA from a moderately influential government watchdog into a hugely influential Chicago media organization. But how will he fund this transformation?

The “paradigm” is undergoing “radical change,” says Shaw, and if the local media will no longer foot the bill to keep government halfway honest, then other money will have to be found. Some will come from foundations. The Knight Foundation contributes $1.75 million to the Huffington Post Investigative Fund and that tells Shaw he has two calls to make—one to Knight and the other to Arianna Huffington. And there’s also that “huge community of good, dedicated people who have been so frustrated by what they’ve been seeing in government corruption and malfeasance in Illinois.”

Question: can Andy Shaw succeed?

Here, in his blog, veteran Chicago Reader media critic Michael Miner describes a second business model, called Circulate, that would be funded less by foundations and Andy Shaw’s presumed “huge community of good dedicated people” and more by readers/users.

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