Going up against the Internet giants, the Hieggelkes of Chicago'sNewcity are building a gateway to alternative media on the web.
After months of crisscrossing the country to court collaborators, Brian J. Hieggelke, AB'83, MBA'84, launched in June what he hopes will become a very loud voice for the alternative media on the World Wide Web.
Through his NewcityNet, Hieggelke, the president of Chicago-based New City Communications, aims to give "young urban adults with a disposition toward iconoclastic, independent, and creative ideas" a single point of entry to Web sites designed with them in mind.
The concept is known, in Web lingo, as a "portal." Microsoft, Excite, and Yahoo! run some of the largest portals on the Web. Their pages provide an entry point to Web sites on a multitude of topics, from autos to health to sports. By contrast, the smaller portals-such as Femina, which links to sites on women's issues-typically focus on one topic. In this quickly consolidating virtual world, Hieggelke is building a gateway to sites that serve a purpose on the Web akin to that, in print, of free city weeklies, known for their hip, edgy take on news and entertainment.
Hieggelke's foray into electronic media-and onto the national media stage-follows the 12th anniversary of his company's own flagship free weekly, Newcity, a Chicago tabloid that has the U of C written all over it. In February 1986, Hieggelke, along with his wife, Jan Muzzarelli Hieggelke, AB'85, and his brother, Brent J. Hieggelke, AB'88, published the first issue as a biweekly neighborhood newspaper, with former Maroon chief Frank M. Luby, AB'85, serving as editor. Earlier this year, the Hieggelkes celebrated the paper's first 12 years with a 16-page expansion and a complete redesign.