First of all, why do I hate to admit it? I do a little freelance work for them (which I would link to if only I could), enjoy many of their stories and writers and am even a print subscriber.
I guess I hate to admit it, because my loyalties naturally tend more towards the indie upstarts like Windy Citizen or Gapers Block or even the decidedly less indie Chicagoist. Even the Chicago Reader gives me a warmer, fuzzier feeling than the colossus called the Chicago Tribune.
The Trib represents all other big media organizations for me, legacy media if you will. These organizations are often rigid, ruthless and utterly intolerant towards new technologies’ threat to their dominance. They also maintain a grip on their audiences any way they can and they sometimes do it in a way that is simultaneously a nod to new media and a swift kick in its pants.
Thus I’ve always maintained a bit of a distance from the outreach efforts the Trib regularly makes to readers. Short of attending a few tweetups, because I figured they would be good networking opportunities, I’ve steered clear of what I viewed as little more than cheap pandering in the hopes of scoring a few popularity points.
However, after attending a “community conversation” yesterday dealing with government accountability, I might be changing my mind.
In short, I was impressed not only by the caliber of people in the room, but the sincere desire of the various Tribune Company staffers to listen and gather ideas from us. They seemed to be genuinely interested in what we had to say and I didn’t feel pandered to at all.
Now it remains to be seen if our ideas will be executed or disregarded. Your move, Tribune.