An Illinois state senator hopes to create a task force, “to ensure local journalism survives in Illinois’ small towns and mid-sized cities.”
State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) announced the Local Journalism Task Force (Senate Bill 134) in a news release March 25, which he said would consist of ten people representing print and broadcast media, journalism schools, plus state and local government. Stadelman’s release said the group will conduct a study on Illinois communities which might not have enough journalists to cover local issues. The goal is to “preserve and restore news coverage in those areas.”
The INBA reached out to Stadelman’s office to make sure our organization had a seat at the table on this task force and ensure transparency of process.
In response, he said, “I will include INBA in the list of groups required to be part of a task force to study local journalism challenges and issues. I look forward to working with your organization following passage of the legislation.”
Stadelman, a former TV anchor-reporter at WTVO in Rockford, cited declines in ad revenue and circulation as causes for the loss of local journalists. In a news release, he said, “People deserve to know what’s happening in their communities, regardless of where they live.”
The task force (SB 134), if approved, would be required to send the findings from its study to the Governor JB Pritzker’s office and the General Assembly no later than Jan. 1, 2023. The legislation will go to the Senate floor for consideration.
You can read the INBA’s letter to Stadelman’s office below.
March 24, 2021
Senator Steve Stadelman, 34th District
The Illinois News Broadcasters Association, formed January 22, 1955, is one of the largest statewide broadcast news associations in the nation. The organization is made up of about 200 members from throughout Illinois and surrounding states. The goals of the organization are to preserve and protect the public’s right to know, to ensure the free flow of information, to provide scholarships and to exchange information among members.
Pursuant to Senate Bill 0134, we believe INBA should have a representative included on the Local Journalism Task Force if the legislature plans to involve itself in matters of journalism. We believe our presence would promote government transparency of process and give INBA an opportunity to provide insight about how local newsrooms work and what they need to succeed.
We will continue to advocate for a free press dedicated to serving the needs of people living in Illinois and request our presence in development of these recommendations in collaboration with other press entities in Illinois.
Jenna Dooley, President, on behalf of the INBA Board