Here’s why we decided to give Chicago’s Next Voices a platform in the Sun-Times

We’ll be publishing pieces from the winners every month, and we need your feedback to make decisions about what’s next.

SHARE Here’s why we decided to give Chicago’s Next Voices a platform in the Sun-Times
The Sun-Times’ Chicago’s Next Voices guest columnists: (top, from left) John F. Wasik, Lashaunta Moore, Chris Bigelow and Maham Khan; (middle, from left) Lucy Biederman, Thom Cicchelli, Valery Pineda and Emily Dagostino; and (bottom, from left) Derek Helling, Effie Koliopoulos, Randi Forrest and Nancy Osness.

The Sun-Times’ Chicago’s Next Voices guest columnists: (top, from left) John F. Wasik, Lashaunta Moore, Chris Bigelow and Maham Khan; (middle, from left) Lucy Biederman, Thom Cicchelli, Valery Pineda and Emily Dagostino; and (bottom, from left) Derek Helling, Effie Koliopoulos, Randi Forrest and Nancy Osness.

Provided

Chicago is a city rich in experiences, with a population of 2.7 million — and 8.9 million in the metro area. So even with a newsroom of about 100 journalists working to tell its stories every day, we inevitably miss many. And some of those are most compellingly told directly through the voices of the community members experiencing them.

If we want to do a better job of telling the truth about what life is like here, of providing a fuller, clearer, more inclusive picture, we need to share the mic.

That’s why we launched our Chicago’s Next Voices contest in February — to hear more of the diverse experiences and perspectives that make up our community. Our aim is to elevate more voices from our community so that we all have the opportunity to better understand each other, to support and inspire each other, to grow ever more aware of the mix of experiences that connect us.

So we were thrilled to receive hundreds of entries from a truly diverse range of community members. They included teenagers, young adults, middle-agers and seniors from across the city and the suburbs — of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and abilities — writing from very different backgrounds and points of view.

It was challenging to narrow the entries to 12 winners because so many left our judges delighted, frightened, surprised, inspired, heartbroken or angry. The writers who ultimately were selected brought a fresh, compelling perspective to the theme of “Moving Forward” that made our judges think — and left them wanting more.

We hope you will enjoy these voices as much as we did. We’ll be publishing pieces from the winners every month, and we need your feedback to make decisions about what’s next. Whose voices do you want to hear more from? Which topics do you want to read more about? Please let us know by emailing me at jkho@suntimes.com.

And if you didn’t enter or didn’t win but still have something to say to our readers, this contest is only one of many ways we’re working to bring our newsroom closer to our community, and there are plenty of other opportunities to make your voice heard. You can submit op-eds and letters to opinions@suntimes.com or letters@suntimes.com. And we encourage you to come to one of our monthly community listening sessions to speak one-on-one with a journalist. We will be announcing our next one soon.

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