Join Chicago media innovators to watch, discuss new documentary

Many of Chicago's leading media innovators will participate July 12 in a screening and discussion of a new documentary about the transformation of the city's media landscape.

"Mashed Media," produced by Highland Park documentary filmmaker Brett Schwartz, covers a period of more than two years, focusing on events such as the bankruptcy of the Tribune Co. and the launch and sale of EveryBlock.com. The film features interviews with a who's who of Chicago digital publishing, from Bill Adee and Brian Boyer of the Chicago Tribune to EveryBlock's Adrian Holovaty to Andrew Huff of Gapers Block and Steve Rhodes of Beachwood Reporter.

Most of the key figures in the film, including Adee, Boyer, Holovaty and Huff, have agreed to attend the screening and panel discussion -- "Roundtable: Leading the Media Revolution." The event will take place from 6:30-9 p.m. in the Helmerich Auditorium of the Annie May Swift Building (1920 Campus Drive) on Northwestern's Evanston campus.

To attend the free event, please RSVP at http://www.pingg.com/rsvp/ifkbjq78jtf5a2jy4

" 'Mashed Media' really captures a moment in Chicago media history, as the Tribune struggled through business challenges and digital insurgents challenged the dominance of traditional media," said Medill Prof. Rich Gordon, who is organizing the July 12 event. "By combining a screening with a panel discussion involving most of the key people from the film, I'm hoping we can add context and bring the film's storylines up to date."

Gordon and two other journalism professors -- Barbara Iverson of Columbia College and Charles Madigan of Roosevelt University -- are featured in the film as expert observers.  Iverson will participate in the screening event.

Chicago is nationally recognized as a leader in local media innovation, with a variety of digital startups taking advantage of the World Wide Web to create and distribute content to audiences seeking alternatives to traditional media. 

Schwartz said he was inspired to shoot the film "because at the height of the Great Recession, the rapid transformation of the media landscape and the apparent decline of the mainstream media, particularly newspapers, became a huge story in and of itself.   As a voracious consumer of the news, I grew both curious and concerned about these changes, and as I looked deeper at the fabric of the industry here in Chicago, the seeds of "Mashed Media" were sewn."

"The film is not intended to be encyclopedic is in its view; instead it serves as a "snapshot" of the transformation in Chicago during this time," Schwartz said.  "As a documentarian, I learned that transformations like this one are cyclical and not as unique as we may think.  Journalism as a practice has always adapted to current conditions, but the combination of the deep recession and blazing technological innovation have made this period of change more dramatic and challenging."

"Mashed Media" was aired last month on WTTW-TV. The film was recently picked up by Films for the Humanities and Sciences, and will be part of their catalog in the near future.

Gordon said he and Holovaty hatched the idea for the July 12 event when they ran into each other after the WTTW airing.

"We talked about how much had happened since Brett stopped filming, and we thought it would be fun to get everyone together to discuss the events it captured," Gordon said. "I shot off an email to all of the leading figures in the film and everyone thought it was a great idea."

The event is being co-sponsored by Northwestern's Medill School and by the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern, a new initiative to develop and deploy new media technologies in the Chicago area.

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  • Rich G.

    It's been screened several times in the Chicago area ... and I believe it is now being distributed by a company that markets films to educational institutions. Want more info - contact Brett Schwartz, the filmmaker, at [masked]

    November 28, 2011

  • Chris K.

    Curious, is the movie available for viewing anywhere?

    November 28, 2011

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