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By Katie Buitrago

Editor's Note: This is the first in our long-awaited Chicago Blog Review series.

Blog: Chicagoland

Description: The Chicago Reader's home for a lil' bit of everything.

Style: The tagline is "A Reader staff blog," but Chicagoland is dominated, happily, by web producer Whet Moser. Moser, a graduate of Deep Springs and the U of C, is whip-smart without suffering from pedantry. He's relevant and funny with a sharp Internet-ready humor that, I suspect, comes from many hours spent online in the early days of IRC and message boards (correct me if I'm wrong, but I know my people). Media outlets' blogs often feel like columns wrested from the pages of their print edition and dropped on the Internet with little modification. Not so here - he fits the news to the medium masterfully.

Substance: Chicagoland generally lacks the original reporting found in other Reader blogs, and its strength lies in its commentary and broad scope. Moser seems to write about whatever stumbles across his sights, which is fine by me. Targets include the quality (or lack thereof) of the media, topics bubbling up in the local and national blogosphere, music, Chicago newsmakers, the financial industry, and tips on goings-on in the area. He also connects Reader stories to local and national news trends, which is usually helpful for its context, not annoying self-promotion.

Tl;dr Score: Low. There's a good mix of short, blurb-y roundups and longer, thoughtful commentaries that don't feel tiresome.

Commenter Involvement: Curiously, Chicagoland's posts are rarely commented on, save for some posts on everyone's favorite topic - the Future of the Media OMG. The few that are there are generally thoughtful and relevant, which is a nice change of pace from, say, the locals at the Reader's blog on politics.

Linkage: Abundant and useful links to news sites, blogs, and columnists. This is the Internet's way of attribution and it's used here as it's supposed to be: to provide context, evidence, a range of opinions, and the occasional lolz.

Visual Appeal: The layout of the Reader's blogs has a bad case of the uglies and, last I heard, they're working on changing it. It's not particularly easy on the eyes, but it's not actively obstructionist, either. The "You Shoot" segment, which displays purdy photography from the Reader's Flickr pool, helps break up the monotony. The biggest problem comes up when trying to scan through past posts: instead of showing more pages with multiple posts on it, there's an archive with links to the titles of each individual post. It's not designed for skimming a bunch of posts in succession, which is obviously a problem for Internet browsing.

NSFW?: The site is no-nonsense, text-heavy and refreshingly absent of Flash ads for mortgages or losing tummy fat. It's unlikely you'll stumble across a picture of boobies accidentally. Surf without fear.

Start Here: Advice for Unemployed Journalists.

Bottom Line: Should you add to your RSS reader? Yes, absolutely. Chicagoland is a go-to spot to find out what's going on in Chicago and what people are saying about it. Whet's analyses of politics and the media are almost always spot-on, and the only bummer might be that it seems like his other work duties are slowing down his ability to blog. Some call it the best blog in the city. I may have to agree.


Comments welcome.


Posted on May 6, 2009

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - Climate Deniers' 4 Top Scare Tactics.
SPORTS - The McEnroes In Antarctica.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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