WNIJ Welcomes Social Justice and Community Reporters

Apr 23, 2020

Report for America announced the selection of 225 journalists for its 2020 reporting corps. The new cohort will be 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 Yvonne Boose and JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team.

Yvonne Boose will cover artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include 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. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco will cover substandard housing and police-community relations for WNIJ Radio in Illinois. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.

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. They also mark a major expansion from the current corps size of 59, of whom, more than 90 percent are returning.

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities through its reporting corps. It is an initiative of the nonprofit news organization, The GroundTruth Project. 

Funding comes in part from the generous support of WNIJ listeners. Learn how to give.

This year’s Report for America corps was chosen after a highly selective national competition that drew more than 1,800 applications. Leading journalists, editors and academics from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and different media platforms acted as judges.

Many corps members will cover the coronavirus for their host news organizations. Report for America and The GroundTruth Project have been developing guidelines and workshops for journalists to work safely in the field at this time of required isolation and social distancing.

THE NEWSROOMS

The newsrooms were selected in December based on a national competition. To win, news organizations described an urgent gap in coverage and a plan to deploy a Report for America journalist to address that gap. As a result of the COVID-19 shock, some newsrooms pulled out of the program and others newsrooms asked for additional staff. 

The 162 newsrooms are in 45 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Nearly half of the positions are in nonprofit media organizations.

Additional leading, current supporters include: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Natasha and Dirk Ziff; The Joyce Foundation; The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; Craig Newmark Philanthropies; Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Heising-Simons Foundation; Tow Foundation; Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation; Evelyn Y. Davis Foundation; LOR Foundation/Solutions Journalism Network; Galloway Family Foundation; Leon Levy Foundation; Inasmuch Foundation; Select Equity Group; Henry L. Kimelman Foundation; Annie E. Casey Foundation; Newman's Own Foundation; Annenberg Foundation; Santa Fe Community Foundation; Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation; Further Forward Foundation; and McClatchy Foundation.

To learn more about Report for America and its efforts to strengthen communities through public service journalism, please visit ​www.reportforamerica.org​. If you are interested in partnering with Report for America, please write to info@reportforamerica.org.  

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local news rooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of ​ The GroundTruth Project ​, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. GroundTruth is an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the US.