Shutdowns spur innovations in sports, entertainment, music coverage
With virtually all sports, entertainment and music events shut down by the pandemic, Daily Herald editors had to shift focus to keep readers in touch with the leisure activities they love. Here's how.
When all the major, minor and high school sports put their seasons on hiatus, my first thought was, "No sports? No problem."
I knew for a few days there would be stories to do about what the sporting world would do next with no more spring training and March 26 Opening Day.
I was never overly concerned because we have a strong staff of reporters and columnists with no shortage of opinions and story ideas. We also have bosses who possess a great love of baseball and other sports.
From one of the bosses came the idea of asking our staff daily questions about the life of sports. That's how Clubhouse Chatter came to be, and from that we've received many comments and question suggestions from our print and online audiences.
When a West suburban coach talked with one of our high school reporters, the end result was that coach sending out a tweet encouraging everyone to become a Daily Herald subscriber.
To me, that summed up the affection some people have for the work we do.
No sports? No problem.
When your entertainment section is named Time out! -- and health experts are telling everyone to stay in -- what is a newspaper staff to do?
Shift focus, of course.
That's what the editors and writers of our Friday Time out! section did over the past couple of weeks as movie theaters, performance venues, restaurant dining rooms and museums closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Our theaters may be temporarily dark, but the thirst for entertainment remains -- perhaps more than ever. We can think of few moments in modern memory when we as a society needed entertainment more as a way to lift us up, make us laugh and fill the days until we can return to the pastimes we love most.
Thus, we added lots of features devoted to things to do from home. You can read stories on streaming suggestions, keep your brain sharp with new puzzles and get information on how suburban restaurants are getting creative in tough times.
Time out! is now Time out! -- with Time In!
We will keep the content coming, while looking forward to the day when we can resume our suburban-focused coverage of theater, music, dining and community events.
When the bars, restaurants and venues had to shut down, the loss of gigs on the Chicago and suburban music scenes spurred innovation. Artists started streaming more performances from home, including links to Venmo, PayPal and other funding sites to serve as virtual "tip jars." We caught wind of that early on and started sharing those performances, embedding a few on Chicago Sound Check (chicagosoundcheck.com) and sharing a lot through the Sound Check Facebook page.
We're also running a weekly listing of some major and local livestreams in Time out! and online on Fridays.
Since live performances and our concert calendar were no longer an option, we tagged anything pertaining to music as fair game. I've been writing up more local releases, focusing more on sharing new songs and videos through Sound Check's weekly Fresh Tracks posts, and spreading the word about March's Spotify playlist.
We also have been sharing in my column some of our favorite movies about music and where you can find them, and I'm putting together a Chicago music podcast roundup (coming soon).