Writing today alongside my colleague Michael Romain to share the news that Growing Community Media is expanding to include the Village Free Press, the Proviso Township newspaper, which Michael launched nine years ago to cover his hometown of Maywood.

Over the years, Village Free Press has grown to cover nine of the 14 villages which make up Proviso.  Michael’s hard work and strong community journalism have made VFP the single and respected source of local news in the township. 

Simultaneously, Michael has worked at Growing Community Media, initially as editor of our Austin Weekly News and education reporter for Wednesday Journal. Over the past year, with funding from a local donor, Michael became our equity editor and columnist while continuing to edit the Austin Weekly.

Several months ago, Michael suggested we consider fully aligning Village Free Press with GCM’s four flags to make it part of Growing Community Media. We have been working out the details and last Friday signed the paperwork to make it happen. 

This growth really reflects the mission we set out to accomplish when we created Growing Community Media three years ago as the nonprofit publisher of Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.

Then and now, we see vital, complex and fascinating communities stretching from Garfield Park to Oak Park, from Riverside to Maywood that together make up the Greater West Side, a geography of diversity and shared needs and opportunities. 

As always, we will cover these communities individually, but also collectively. We’ll report the news and feel of each village and neighborhood at the grassroots while also reflecting the interesting and complex issues that unite us.

These changes come with an expanded role within GCM for Michael. He is now our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) while he continues as editor of Austin Weekly News and Village Free Press.

Also, we are growing our reporting staff. As part of this transition, GCM will fund a part-time reporter dedicated to covering Proviso. In addition, Kamil Brady, who has been vital to VFP for many years, will come aboard GCM to enhance sales and community engagement. 

Igor Studenkov, one of our veteran freelance reporters, joins the staff on a part-time basis to cover Forest Park and continues to report on the West Side. A month or so ago we told you about the hiring of Samantha Callender as our Community Narrative Reporter for the Austin Weekly. That hire was made possible by a grant from the Field Foundation.

All of this is possible because of your investment in our nonprofit newsroom. 

We are grateful. And we invite you today to consider becoming a member.

Dan Haley Michael Romain

Editor and Publisher Director of DEI

Growing Growing
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