Jour­nal­ist ZackTV was a ‘ peace­maker’ who looked out for ev­ery­one, friends say

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - emoore@sun­ | @ evanF­moore BY EVAN F. MOORE, STAFF RE­PORTER

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.”

ZackTV was not only a video jour­nal­ist who went into ar­eas in Chicago that the tra­di­tional press wouldn’t go to for in­ter­views, he also stressed the value of en­trepreneur­ship.

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