Ernest Sanders

Ernest Sanders, Northeast Regional e-Team, Partnership for a Connected Illinois; Owner, Sobering Book Publications

A lifelong Chicago community advocate and activist, Ernie Sanders follows a wide variety of news outlets in order to identify new resources for change at the community level.

“I want to know the decisions being made at the highest level that impact community economic development, but I need to speak to the kid on the street as well as policy leaders, so I need a range of sources from the community to citywide and national news outlets,” Sanders says.

Sanders starts his day at 5:00 a.m. with the TV news where he may rotate through local channels for up to two hours while he exercises, checks email online and eats breakfast. During working hours, he receives most news on his laptop either online or via email. Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune provide breaking news alerts, but Sanders mainly depends on a wide variety of lesser-known newsmakers to keep him up to date on community level issues and activities. His sources include Carl West at TBT News Service, Phil Jackson at Black Star Journal, Raynard Hall’s BRONZECOMM, Ujamaa Network, Catalyst, Health Schools Campaign, Consortium to Lower childhood Obesity, Lumity, Auburn Gresham Community Portal, Publicity Club of Chicago,, Huffington Post, and many others.

Philanthropy News Digest is another important source. “I’m resource-driven.”

Traditional news sources are less important to Sanders. He doesn’t subscribe to print editions of either the Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times and checks them out online only occasionally. He only listens to radio in the car and then only to WBEZ-FM and WVON-AM.

He is, however a regular contributor to Facebook, mainly checking in at the beginning and end of the day. And he is steadily increasing his engagement with Twitter. “Twitter started resonating for me when President Obama sent his first Tweet, and Rahm Emanuel held a Twitter Town Hall. Now I tweet regularly, particularly if I am at a meeting that is important to my followers. “ Sanders also follows journalists, state and city leaders and other high profile organizations engaged in community work on his phone.

Sanders feels like he is well informed about Chicago issues but says established media often misses important street-level stories. He cites the pioneering community news portals set up by the Smart Communities Program in which residents report on what is happening within their own communities. “So many things are happening that are not reported in the evening news. These portals create a connection to the community voice in the church, the barber shop, the community center that may not be accessible in any other way.”

Sanders guilty online pleasure? connects Sanders with an online exercise community where users share information and support each other in reaching their physical fitness goals.

By Valerie Denney

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