Two native Chicagoans will join the Chicago Sun-Times in June as part of a service-oriented journalism program that aims to bolster coverage of the city’s South and West sides, as well as other under-covered neighborhoods in cities nationwide.
Carlos Ballesteros and Manny Ramos will spend at least one year working for the Sun-Times under the not-for-profit Report for America initiative. The Sun-Times is one of eight news organizations participating the program, which launched last year.
Ramos and Ballesteros will produce stories on a regular basis, as well tackle larger projects on issues affecting South and West side residents. Story topics will include education, economic development, infrastructure improvements, social-service interventions, immigration, housing and crime. The RFA reporters also will participate in journalism-related community service projects.
Ballesteros is a former reporter for Newsweek, where he covered politics, foreign policy, labor and immigration. He has also written for Chicago magazine, South Side Weekly, Nation, and In These Times. A 2016 graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he was editor-in-chief of the college’s Student Life newspaper, leading a team of more than 100 journalists.
Ramos, a data journalist, is a two-time fellow at City Bureau, a civic journalism lab based on the South Side, for which he covered the failings of the Chicago Police Department’s community-policing initiatives and worked as a health multimedia reporter in collaboration with WBEZ’s Curious City. Prior to this, Ramos reported on city politics and Chicago Public Schools for Gaper’s Block and covered municipal elections for the Daily Line. A 2016 graduate of DePaul University, he was the DePaulia student newspaper’s first podcast producer and political reporter.
Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a 501(c)(3). About half of each RFA reporter’s salary is paid by the not-for-profit, and the other half is covered by each newsroom in combination with local philanthropists.
Report for America is still seeking donations to cover costs for its Sun-Times reporters. To help support the group’s Chicago efforts, email RFA co-founder and president Steven Waldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.