Local reporting on the West and South Sides will get a boost from $110,000 in funding

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The Chicago Community Trust announced today 31 Local Reporting Awards through its Community News Matters program totaling $110,000 for reporting on a variety of important issues affecting Chicago’s low-income areas, from the plight of black men in a recession to the impact of federal health care reform on West and South Side residents.

“High-quality journalism and analysis is vital to public discourse,” said Ngoan Le, vice president of program at the Trust, the region’s community foundation. “We hope this burst of reporting will ensure that the needs and perspectives of the city’s poorest communities are heard and understood at this critical time.”

The 31 winners – chosen from 108 proposals for a total of $620,000 – will receive awards of $10,000 or $2,000 and include several projects targeting the West Side:

Windy City Media Group ($10,000) – AIDS resources and funding on the West and South Sides

AustinTalks ($2,000) – investigative stories on use of tax increment financing in Austin

Neighborhood Writing Alliance ($2,000) – series on individuals with disabilities living and working on Chicago’s South and West Sides

Serethea Matthews ($2,000) – examination of 911 response & lack of equitable distribution of police services in Austin

Strategic Human Service-North Lawndale News ($2,000) – multi-media investigation of impact of poverty in seven West Side communities

The Voice Newspapers ($2,000) – series documenting correlation of academic success & youth engagement with juvenile justice system

The Westside Writing Project ($2,000) – research and reporting on efforts to revitalize the Chicago Avenue

The Community Media Workshop and The Chicago Reporter are helping the Trust administer the Local Reporting Awards, part of the Trust’s Community News Matters program, which seeks to increase the flow of truthful, accurate and insightful local news and information and help the region’s cutting edge innovators develop new models for providing news and information.

It is funded by The Chicago Community Trust, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The McCormick Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago.

“We’re excited about the breath of issues, voices, expertise and communities represented in this group of reporting projects,” said Alden Loury, publisher of The Chicago Reporter.

Award winners include individuals, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with expertise in either journalism or Chicago’s community issues.

Le noted that at a time of significant budgetary pressures and a shift in leadership in city, county and state government, the Local Reporting Awards should produce in 2011 a burst of impactful relevant coverage of, by, and for Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods on the south and west sides that sheds light on current and future decision-making.

While stimulating new reporting and new voices in the nation’s third largest media market, the initiative will also capitalize on the shifting media landscape by developing new ways and channels to spread high-quality information, and build interest and engagement among citizens.

“We expect to expand the audience for these community stories by helping their creators publish through many traditional channels and online platforms,” said Thom Clark, president of the Community Media Workshop.

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