We The People Media’s history goes back to 1996, when Ethan Michaeli, previously an investigative reporter with the Chicago Daily Defender newspaper, was hired as the founding Editor in Chief of Residents’ Journal. Conceived as a magazine that would be written for and by public housing tenants, Residents’ Journal was initially funded by the Chicago Housing Authority, with a written guarantee of the newspaper’s independence signed by CHA officials. But in June 1999, a new administration at the CHA terminated the agency’s agreement with Residents’ Journal. The Residents’ Journal staff opted to separate from CHA, forming the not-for-profit organization We The People Media with the support of prominent journalists, scholars, community and business leaders. We The People Media assumed responsibility for Residents’ Journal and the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in August 2000.
With the evolution into a not-for-profit organization, Ethan became Publisher of Residents’ Journal and Executive Director of We The People Media. Mary C. Piemonte who joined the Residents’ Journal staff shortly after its founding, became Editor in Chief of Residents’ Journal and Deputy Executive Director of We The People Media.
Since that time, We The People Media/Residents’ Journal has trained thousands of adults and youths in the skills of modern journalism. Reporters for We The People Media have won awards from the National Society of Professional Journalists, the Chicago Headline Club, the Chicago Association of Black Journalists and the Chicago Defender Charities, among others. Our work has been covered on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune Magazine as well as on National Public Radio.
Today, We The People Media/Residents’ Journal is widely recognized as the authentic voice of Chicago’s inner city. Residents’ Journal, the Urban Youth International Journalism Program, “RJ TV” and this web site reach a diverse audience of hundreds of thousands of people on Chicago’s South and West sides, across the nation and beyond.
Board of Directors
- President: Eugene Scott
President, Chicago Defender Charities
- Secretary/Treasurer: Stelios Valavanis
President and Founder, On Shore Communications
- Maner Jean Wiley
Local Advisory Council President, Hillard Homes
- Sandra Young
CHA Board Commissioner and former president of the Ida B. Wells LAC
- Francine Washington
Local Advisory Council President, Stateway Gardens
- U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis
Congressman from the Seventh District of Illinois
- Jamie Kalven
- Sunil Garg
- Jonathan Rothstein
Attorney at Law