Posted by Keith Reed
There were 32 members present. Chris Berman represented the Park District and Kate Brower and Brian Childers represented the WCH.  Guest was Grace Bausch (Barb T. guest).  Greg Nelson did the “thought of the day”.
ANNOUNCEMENTS:  Rich said that there were 4 more dates for Operation Warm to distribute coats at Chicago libraries and that he needs volunteers for December 8th from noon to 4:00 pm.  He said that our Club raised $32,000 for Operation Warm coats this year.  Barb Tubekis reminded members that the annual gift wrapping event at the Glenview Youth Services takes place Dec. 9th from 1-3 pm at the Harley Davidson facility at Willow Road and Patriot Drive.  It was mentioned that Ned Meisner was having his dinner this coming Sunday for his visitors from Ecuador and Club members interested in his International agricultural project.  Brook announced that the community grant applications are due at the end of next week and if members want someone to receive our year end appeal letter for donations to our Foundation, she needs to be notified of the contact information within the next week.
HAPPY BUCKS:  Felicia O’Malley donated in honor of our Operation Warm project  providing coats to about 600 students at the Chicago southside school where her daughter teaches.  Wes donated because of all the good things Rotary does and especially the Operation Warm project.  Barb T. gave for all the help the Club members gave in packing 100 bags of food for our “after Thanksgiving” food donations and for the dozen or so members who helped transport and deliver the food to Good News Partners.  John Thomas gave for having a successful and safe weekend with his grandkids at Disney World in Orlando.  Fred S. gave since this would be his last meeting before heading to his winter retreat in Sarasota  and he also mentioned the recent Chicago Trib article about Winnetka’s most favorite (and dangerous) jungle gym that has traveled from Horace Mann and Crow Island schools and now is at the Winnetka Historical Society—it was a huge wooden jungle gym that the kids nicknamed “Mungus” because of the humongous injuries it inflicted on the school kids by falls and splinters.  Tony gave in appreciation of Eric playing piano before the start of the meeting and pledged further donations if Fred would actually crawl around on  “Mungus”.  Chris Berman handled the “dig and grin” and pointed out a situation which fits into the “too big to fail” category.  She produced a picture of Knickers, the 6’4” Australian steer that weighs 1.4 ton and has been deemed “too big to slaughter”!
SPEAKER: Louise Kiernan:  Louise is editor-in-chief of ProPublica’s regional operation in Illinois.  She has a Master’s in journalism from Northwestern and was an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern.  She also worked for the Chicago Tribune for 18 years as an editor, reporter and writing coach.  She was a 2005 Nieman Fellow at Harvard.  ProPublica is a non-partisan investigative reporting organization that was formed by private donors and foundations around 2008.  It now has 100 employees and a budget of 28 million dollars.   She reported that newspapers have been on the decline for several years for a number of reasons, which has adversely affected the amount of investigative reporting done by the media.  For example, she said there are only 2 full time reporters cover the legislative activity in Springfield, Illinois—one from the AP and the other from Springfield’s  local Journal Register.
    She said that ProPublica has written about 150 investigative reports including reports on problems with the local property tax system, Chicago targeting minorities in issuing traffic tickets, and current local immigration policies. She said that the challenges for this type of reporting are 1) to survive (there are now only 450 newspapers in the State, down from 1000 a few years ago); 2) to be heard,  since there has developed a “fragmented digital landscape” like Google, Facebook and Twitter that are “very vulnerable to misinformation” (she gave as an example the Scott Kelly story that his space travel changed his DNA); and 3) to be believed (trust in the media was down to 72% after Watergate but recent studies show it’s now about 12% who  trust, 37% have some trust and 51% no trust at all).  She said the degree of trust depends on the media followed and that democrats tend to have most trust in the media than do republicans.
    She said that it is the responsibility of all  media outlets to be transparent in their work—who they are, what they do and how do they do it.  She said that ProPublica is a transparent organization with all its donors and projects reported on its website and the Internet .  Generally, people need to be “media literate” and seek out the original source of the story rather than rely on some reporter’s interpretation of the event.  We should read beyond the headlines because often times the actual report is different from how it’s summarized in the headline.  We should be beware of emotional and hyperbolic reporting and check our own biases, which usually affect the way we interpret reports.  She concluded by saying we all should support honest and transparent journalism with our actions.
    Bob Baker won the raffle but was far away from drawing the Ace of hearts!