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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

South Shore Residents Can Discuss How The News Portrays The Neighborhood At Saturday Event

A German researcher spent four years studying news about South Shore and residents' frustrations with it. He'll present his findings Saturday.

Kids splash in Lake Michigan on a hot Friday afternoon at Rainbow Park Beach in South Shore on June 4, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — A German researcher who spent several years studying South Shore residents’ experiences and the news media’s portrayal of the neighborhood will discuss his findings with the community Saturday morning.

“Everyday Life in South Shore,” a project by Tilman Schwarze, summarizes his interviews with residents, research into the neighborhood’s representation in the news and on-the-ground experiences in the community. Schwarze will present the project and hold a community discussion about its findings 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at The Quarry Event Center, 2423 E. 75th St. Refreshments will be provided.

The project reviews South Shore residents’ frustrations with and resistance to the stigma they experience stemming from news coverage of violence in the neighborhood, which often lacks context beyond the location and time of a violent incident, Schwarze said.

The project also explores residents’ love for their neighborhood’s culture, as well as social, political and physical divisions in the community, Schwarze said.

“South Shore, as [in] other South and West side communities in Chicago, is often portrayed only through the lens of violence and crime,” Schwarze said in a statement. “It is therefore often difficult for non-members of the community to really understand what the community and everyday life is about.”

Schwarze, now a lecturer in criminology at the University of Glasgow, completed “Everyday Life in South Shore” from 2016-2020 as part of his doctoral program at the University of St. Andrews. He visited the neighborhood for field work several times from late 2017 to mid-2018.

The research doesn’t argue South Shore’s struggles with commercial vacancies, disinvestment and other forms of marginalization are “purely because of media representation,” Schwarze told Block Club.

But the way neighborhoods are “portrayed and described in media has long-term economic repercussions,” he said. “How do we attract business to a community that has only been in the news from negative images and reporting on violence?”

Schwarze’s research gives some academic backing to the frustrations of South Shore residents, who have long felt a disconnect between the reality of life in the neighborhood and its portrayal to outsiders, said Yvette Moyo, a longtime South Shore resident and CEO of Real Men Charities, which owns the Quarry.

“The mirror image that we have of ourselves as residents of South Shore is filtered,” Moyo said. “It’s blurred by what other people say about us. This is why communications vehicles such as the Black press and our hyperlocal reporting is so critical to the health and future success of our community.”

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