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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

Pritzker Visits Rockford, Talks Energy

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Governor J.B. Pritzker at Rockford City Market

Illinois lawmakers wrapped up their budget business this week, successfully passing a $42 billion dollar plan for the coming year.  But talks surrounding a nuclear bailout continue.   



Pritzker says the state’s negotiations with Exelon, the state’s largest nuclear station operator, are still underway. 

“What I can tell you is that that deal will help keep all of the nuclear plants open,” said Pritzker, “Which helps us with our clean energy plans for the future.”


Exelon announced plans last fall to shutter the Byron and Dresden power plants if the state failed to deliver subsidies. 


As part of the federal probe into ComEd, a subsidiary of Exelon, prosecutors announced last week charges related to perjury and obstruction of justice against Tim Mapes. Mapes is a former executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois and was chief of staff to Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.


The Governor says he hopes to wrap up talks with the energy giant as soon as possible -- and he remains hopeful an agreement can be reached. 


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.