Chicago Community Trust grant to fund two Sun-Times newsroom positions

Elvia Malagón will cover social justice and income inequality issues while Brett Chase will tackle another newly created beat focusing on the environment and public health.

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Elvia Malagón and Brett Chase

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Two veteran journalists are joining the Chicago Sun-Times to bring readers much-needed coverage of social justice, income inequality, the environment and public health issues through a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

Elvia Malagón, who most recently worked for the Chicago Tribune, and Brett Chase, who most recently was an investigative reporter for the Better Government Association, will join the newspaper’s staff within the next week.

“Brett and Elvia are exactly the kind of journalists we envisioned taking on these roles when we began discussing the idea of these grant-funded positions with the Community Trust last year,” Sun-Times Executive Editor Chris Fusco said. “As our region emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, it will be more important than ever for our newspaper to continue shining a light on economic and health inequities, keep watch over education and immigration policies, and make sure our elected leaders are doing everything they can to safeguard the environment and stop widespread flooding.”

“A core component of our strategy to close the racial and ethnic wealth gap in this region is ensuring those who are most affected are at the table to inform proposed solutions. To do that, they need objective facts about what is happening in our communities,” said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “These two reporter positions at the Sun-Times will cover issues that are particularly important in Black, Latinx and underinvested areas.”

The Community Trust funding is the latest in a series of grants to the Sun-Times newsroom. Report for America is partially funding two newsroom positions — a reporter and photographer to cover the South and West sides — and AARP Chicago is underwriting La Voz Chicago, the Sun-Times’ Spanish-language news website that launched May 10. Chase and Malagón’s work frequently will appear on the La Voz homepage: suntimes.com/la-voz.

“With these funds, we are able to stay true to our mission, which includes educating the electorate and giving voters the freedom to make informed decisions about their communities,” Sun-Times CEO Nykia Wright said. “We’re grateful for the support of the Community Trust and other organizations as we move closer to our goal of making the Sun-Times a self-sustaining news organization.”

As is the case with AARP Chicago and La Voz, the Community Trust will not supervise Chase or Malagón nor have a say in their coverage. Stories by Chase and Malagón will be available for free online. Each story will note at the end that their work “is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.”

Malagón and Chase also will participate in community forums in which they’ll directly interact with readers on the subjects they cover. The grant will have two, one-year renewal options, after which time the Sun-Times will fully fund the positions.

Chase most recently covered environmental protection, pollution and public health for the BGA. He has been honored nationally by the National Press Foundation and the Society of Environmental Journalists. In his six-plus years at the BGA, he also produced award-winning reports about public housing and covered transportation, health care and energy. Chase is a former reporter and editor at Bloomberg News, worked as an editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a reporter and editor at Crain’s Chicago Business. He has a journalism degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and has taught journalism at Loyola University in Chicago.

In nearly four years at the Tribune, Malagón became passionate about producing compelling stories about immigration, the 2020 Census, crime and other issues impacting marginalized communities. She won a Tribune outstanding professional performance award last year and a Tribune Edward Scott Beck Award for domestic reporting in 2016. Malagón previously covered criminal courts for The Times of Northwest Indiana and got her start in journalism at The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla. A native of East Chicago, Indiana, she is a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism school. Her work also has been honored by the Hoosier State Press Association and the Chicago Headline Club.

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. The Trust, which is more than 100 years old, administers more than $360 million in annual grants as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity and prosperity for the Chicago region.

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