TV/media coverage of regular and genuine Chicago people, streets, communities and neighborhoods
White people are thirty-two percent of Chicago’s population (and just over half of all Chicagoland) but the ratio of people seen on TV is nowhere near those numbers. On Channels 2-5-7-9-32, “local news” is overwhelmingly about crime and disaster, frequently African American. The stations’ rationale is to broadcast what sells commercials to consumers who have money. Similarly, on public TV, the emphasis is on programs that can maximize contributions. Financial considerations are the first priority, rather than responsibility to the local people they are required to by the FCC to “serve in the public interest, convenience and necessity.” I’ve been watching TV since it started and producing programs for decades, but now Chicagoans under forty almost never watch local TV. It’s mostly irrelevant to them. Local arts, performance, neighborhood personalities and works by local filmmakers are practically invisible.
In this era of corporate domination of all TV, on all channels, genuinely local is the exception, not the rule. It’s time to reevaluate priorities of local programing and commit resources to new ways to use the airwaves for genuine benefit of all the public. We all need to see our own worlds on TV.
—Tom Weinberg, President and founder, Media Burn Archive (Film 50)
Best of Chicago 2015