SPRINGFIELD (INBA) – SB 134 unanimously passed out of the Illinois Senate today. The bill, if passed, would create a Local Journalism Task Force. The statewide group would be tasked with conducting a study on news deserts across Illinois. The goal is to “preserve and restore news coverage in those areas.”
The bill is sponsored by a Rockford Senator and former WTVO anchor-reporter, Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). In a news release he said, “I’ve dedicated years of my life to journalism, so I understand the importance of having access to local news.” and “Illinoisans deserve to know what’s happening in their communities, regardless of where they live.”
The task force would consist of ten people representing print and broadcast media, journalism schools, and state and local government.
The INBA requested to have a seat at the table shortly after the bill’s announcement. In response Stadelman 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.”
The bill moves to the state House of Representatives for further consideration. If it’s ultimately signed into law, the task force will have to share the findings of its study with the governor’s office and General Assembly no later than Jan. 1, 2023.