Wilmette, Community

‘A Real Opportunity’: Like The Record, McKinley Park News is one of the Chicagoland’s independent news outlets rebuilding local news

(Editor’s Note: This profile of The Record’s peer organization McKinley Park News is in partnership with the Chicago Independent Media Alliance and its annual fundraiser, which is live until June 19.)

Walking around his community, Justin Kerr had no idea what was going on.

That is not a metaphor. When Kerr moved to McKinley Park, a southwest side community area in Chicago, he wanted to learn about his new home and grew frustrated at the lack of available information.

So he changed things.

Sharing a similar story as many independent-news providers, Kerr launched the McKinley Park News, first in 2012 as an event calendar and then in 2016 as a full-force local-news outlet.

“There is always a demand for local news and information,” Kerr said, “and right now these markets are completely hollowed out because of the fallout of traditional newspapers and mainstream media.

“There’s a real opportunity to speak to the community and serve the community. Also, living in McKinley Park, I am a firm believer that good journalism helps a community.”

McKinley Park News is part of a growing collective of Chicagoland news outlets in the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, a group that fights for a healthier and more sustainable Chicagoland newsscape.

McKinley Park News, and The Record North Shore, are among nearly 50 independent local outlets that are participating in CIMA’s annual fundraiser now through Monday, June 19.

By supporting one outlet — whether MP News, The Record or any of the others — you are supporting all and backing independent local news coverage.

Kerr’s local news — driven by subscriptions and sponsorships — reaches tens of thousands of readers every month, making more than 100,000 pageviews.

He hopes to continue growing the model and moving into other Chicago neighborhoods. It’s a difficult job — Kerr calls himself a “solo-preneur”; though he says his wife is a silent partner — but someone has to do it, and Kerr is happy to fight the good fight.

“There’s a feeling of satisfaction when you put something out there that has an impact, especially local news,” he said. “There’s always going to be enough to report on; more than I can handle. Being engaged as a journalist in that way and living in the community is fun.”

Contact Justin Kerr at justinkerr@mckinleypark.news or visit Mckinleypark.news.

To donate to the McKinley Park News, The Record North Shore or any of dozens of Chicagoland media outlets, CLICK HERE.

All donations will be matched by local foundations until funds run out.

The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.

Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.

Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

Related Stories