From the first conversations two years ago about transforming our legacy for profit community publications into a pioneering nonprofit model, the goal has been to grow our newsroom. We want to expand our coverage, sharpen our storytelling and stay focused on coverage that no other newsroom can offer.

So it is with great enthusiasm that Growing Community Media announces that we have created the post of Equity Editor and Ombudsman and have promoted the terrific and thoughtful Michael Romain to that position. Michael will continue as editor of our Austin Weekly News. But he will step aside as the Journal’s education reporter covering OPRF and District 97. 

Joining the staff and growing the newsroom is F. Amanda Tugade as our education reporter. Amanda is a veteran of community journalism having worked at Shaw Media, 22nd Century media and as a fellow at City Bureau. Amanda has been freelancing for the Journal in recent months and has done great work. 

As our education reporter, Amanda will add coverage of River Forest’s District 90 elementary schools, a beat where our coverage has been thin. She will also cover early childhood education stories, mix in private school news and she won’t overlook the three colleges serving our communities – Dominican, Concordia and Triton.

Michael’s role as Equity Editor and Ombudsman will be wide ranging. He will be regularly reporting on equity related news. His remarkable page 3 column will continue in the Journal. And he will also be working with our editorial staff to ensure that all of our coverage reflects an equity lens. Michael will have a role in advising our organization on ways Growing Community Media can become more equitable. Finally, Michael will become our Ombudsman, our connection between the newsroom and readers. Only a few newsrooms have an Ombudsman, and we haven’t yet found a community newsroom that has brought this focus to transparency and accountability between the news gathering process and readers.

This growth is only possible, is directly attributable to the generous, passionate investment that so many people and organizations in our seven neighborhoods have mustered. We offer a special thanks to the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation for its notable three-year pledge to help fund this initiative. 

You invested in us. We’re investing in our newsroom. 

Our gratitude is deep and our plans are ambitious.

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