In Response • Chicago Sun-Times Embarrasses Itself, Further Alienates Young Readers with Irresponsible Chance The Rapper Cover Story
In 2017, the City of Chicago has found itself in need of heroes. With skyrocketing shootings, rising socioeconomic disparities and a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy where fraud runs rampant, the city is desperate for someone to show us a way forward. Lately, 23-year-old Chancelor Bennett has emerged as the catalyst for what's next by championing individual rights, helping organize communities from the ground up and, just this week, putting $1 million dollars of his own money towards closing the massive funding gap within the Chicago Public Schools. So, it seemed odd then to pick up the Chicago Sun-Times, the paper I first wrote about Chance The Rapper for, to see a story by Mary Mitchell essentially belittling the Grammy winner's contributions by pointing to problems he allegedly had with the mother of his child. That the story, which is wrought with reporting holes and an honest understanding of the situation, ran on the front page is an affront to not only what Chance is doing, but where many of those living here would like to see the city go.
Since taking the stage alongside Kanye West at Saturday Night Live in January of last year, Chance has been visible just about every minute of his life. A quick look at his Instagram will reveal dozens of photos and videos of Chance with his daughter, Kinsley, who was also a central theme on his most recent project, Coloring Book. As far as rappers go, Chance is fairly tame, eschewing gaudy jewels, big-rimmed cars and oversized homes for humble snapbacks, throwback sweaters and a small gold cross around his neck. Likewise, he's been careful to put family first since the first day of his career with #10Day which he partially embarked on after an emotional ride home with his father after a friend's death in high school. It's been that careful understanding of the importance of relationships that has driven Chance to the lane he's in now as much as the music has. It's an intrinsic reason for why he's found himself in such lofty positions and one we previously noted could have helped Kanye West in his own rise to the top.
Not only is the sentiment that Chance The Rapper is disqualified from participating in the betterment of the city because he has a less-than-traditional arrangement with the mother of his baby, but the story itself is terribly under-reported and reads more like something rushed onto TMZ than a cover story for one of the country's largest newspapers that had to pass by several editors for approval. At the end of the day, Chance's personal life is none of our business. Who cares what he does in his personal time, he just gave seven figures to the public school system. The fact that his personal time is most often spent with his child and longtime friends or in a studio making gospel-inspired music just serves to further the point that his privacy is especially deserved. By comparison, Kanye West has been in the limelight for more than a decade, years marked by scandals, sex tapes, outbursts and more. While everyone has an opinion about 'Ye, he chose to put his family in the public eye and decided not to give aid to his city in the way Chano has. But, despite that, we haven't seen cover stories condemning Kanye, or anyone else for that matter that has looked to do good within city limits.
Let's be real though, Chance has been selling newspapers and it appears the powers that be felt they ran out of happy things to report on, instead turning to an abstracted farce to keep the flatlining revenue stream afloat for another week or so. Ironically enough, it was back to praising the young rapper after news broke later in the day that he was donating an additional $10,000 to nine CPS schools. The soul was sucked from the Sun-Times years ago and with this latest piece it just proved to further alienate a young demographic already weary of established news mediums.
TheseDays is a group of friends, citizens, fledgling journalists utilizing all of our free time in an effort to accurately report on the happenings in the city and beyond while working jobs, piecing together rent and taking care of the daily interruptions life offers. Bottom line? We're not getting paid for this. Mary Mitchell is. Despite that fact, she and the publication she represents ran a piece that was less researched than your average blog post as representative for the paper as a whole. Last week in the Thompson Center Chance pleaded with traditional media outlets to "do your job" it appears that idea fell on deaf ears as tabloid mentality took over.
The prevailing sentiment is reminiscent of this city's ability to eat its own. Reflective of a previous generation those that make up the Chicago Renaissance have been working hard to replace. Fact of the matter? There was no story here, it was a hack job.
Stories like this one are why athletes don't talk to "journalists" anymore, why right-wingers think the media is a farce and why journalism as an institution is failing more every day. Until journalists can honestly and accurately report on the happenings around them without unannounced bias, they will continue to be ignored by the very readers they're attempting to reach.