The "Lens on Lightfoot" collaboration, which included the Better Government Association, Block Club Chicago, Chalkbeat Chicago, The Chicago Reporter, The TRiiBE, The Daily Line and La Raza, ended on Oct. 31. The project reunited many of the partners responsible for Chi.vote, which reported extensively on the mayoral election.
Each participating newsroom brought its own editorial focus to Lens on Lightfoot, looking at topics such as housing, education, health, governance, the police, economic development, environment and taxes. The content is housed on the individual publications’ websites and collected on a landing page at INN.org.
As the INN-led collaboration Lens on Lightfoot drew to a close late last month, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot virtually faced a panel of journalists whose publications had joined together more than a year earlier to hold the mayor accountable for her publicly stated goals.
The Sept. 29 town hall meeting, hosted by The TRiiBE, was remarkable for the audience of 800 attendees, the diverse panel of reporters and their determination to pin down the mayor on specifics. Panelists pressed the city’s first African-American, LBGTQ mayor on issues they reported on, including environmental racism, the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in the Hispanic and African-American communities, gun violence and school budget reform.
The event made news on several fronts. For example, the Better Government Association reported that Lightfoot defended the city’s actions in allowing the demolition of a former coal plant smokestack during the pandemic, enveloping a neighborhood in dust. Chalkbeat Chicago reported on Lightfoot’s statement that Chicago Public Schools leaders are considering the experience of the city’s Catholic schools in deciding whether to reopen schools.
Additionally, the collaboration participants were finalists in the 2020 EPPY Awards for one of the Best Community Service awards as part of the “Lens On Lightfoot” collaboration.
The collaboration was made possible by a grant from the McCormick Foundation, as well as support for INN from the McCormick and Joyce foundations. The individual newsrooms also committed substantial resources for the project.
The Amplify News Project works to strengthen and expand the reach of INN newsrooms in the Midwest.