Journalist ZackTV was a ‘ peacemaker’ who looked out for everyone, friends say
ZackTV was not only a video journalist who went into areas in Chicago that the traditional press wouldn’t go to interview people, he also stressed the value of entrepreneurship.
One of his last tweets, which invited budding entrepreneurs to a seminar, said as much.
Authorities say 30- year- old ZackTV, whose real name is Zack Stoner, had just left a rap concert before he was shot in the head and neck early Wednesday in the South Loop by bullets fired from another car. Stoner, of the first block of West 151st Street in Harvey, was pronounced dead at 4: 20 a. m. Wednesday morning, according the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Chicago police say no one is in custody.
Stoner was known for interviewing young Chicago rappers and posting them on his YouTube channel, zacktv1. The site lists 176,146 subscribers.
Many of those aspiring musicians whom ZackTV had given a platform to, took to Twitter to describe the influence ZackTV had on their music.
Stoner, who attended Corliss High School in the Pullman neighborhood, described himself on his Twitter account as the “best interviewer in the world,” who took his faith in God and his camera in “some of the most dangerous hoods in America.”
In an April interview with the Chicago Defender, ZackTV said that he wanted to show an alternative view of Chicago and its residents.
“I wanted to show the world the other side of Chicago. Back when I was growing up, we had Common and Kanye West. Those are great brothers and great entertainers, but I didn’t think they represented Chicago the way that I’ve seen Chicago,” Stoner said. “I wanted to show the world what the other side of Chicago looks like . . . our culture — the way we dress, what we eat, how we talk, how we walk.”
JP “Jaepilla” Lee, owner of Groundzero Studios, had known ZackTv since 2002. He said ZackTV was often nicknamed the “Hood CNN,” because he was influential with young people from the community.
Lee said ZackTV constantly looked for ways to help gangs and other organizations to settle their differences.
“What’s even worse about all this s-- t is Zack just hit my line a couple weeks ago talking about setting up a few blocks of studio time to do a collaboration song with all the Chicago “organizations” and their rivals and was gonna have me record the song and he was gonna drop a video and all to it . . . it was dope to see him make his own lane and become very successful at it,” Lee said in a Facebook post.
He told the Chicago Sun- Times that Zack’s main focus was to bring people together.
“He wanted to see young people come up. He was a motivator to the youth. He was about his money and his business,” Lee said. “He was always giving to the needy and poor. And even just looking our for guys in the hood. He also managed and supported a young artist by the name of Rome. He wasn’t in any gangs and he would and could literally go into any hood with his camera and get nothing but love.”
Even though ZackTV built up a strong social media following, not everyone was a fan of his style of journalism.
When word of his death was made public, social media insinuated that ZackTV’s shooting may had been retaliation for an interview he did with the women who were with Kenneka Jenkins, the 19- yearold Chicago woman the night she was found dead Sept. 10, 2017, in a hotel freezer in northwest suburban Rosemont. Jenkins died of hypothermia, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
“He said he was gettin threats n [ sic] s-- t from powerful people telling him not to release the interview. I believe he released it anyway. Or at least some of it,” Lee said. “He was literally like the hood cnn. I hate to say it but s-- t like “his death” is the type of story he would be all over and and have footage and interviews on already. He jumps on s-- t as soon as it pops.”