SPRINGFIELD (INBA) – The INBA Board recently discovered that Illinois lawmakers would not give statehouse credentials to reporters for Capitol News Illinois (CNI), citing their affiliation with the Illinois Press Association; which employs lobbyists.
The Illinois Times wrote, “It’s OK for lawmakers to moonlight as lobbyists, but reporters aren’t supposed to be tools of outfits with business before the legislature. Legislative leaders have drawn parallels between Capitol News Illinois and a defunct news arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.”
After a digital discussion among board members, the INBA agreed that CNI provides legitimate journalism without influence from affiliated organizations. For that reason, the board submitted a letter to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate President, asking them to reconsider their decision.
The INBA was not contacted by CNI to write a letter of support. The board made the decision organically. You can read the full letter below.
May 11, 2021
The Honorable Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives
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. 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.
It is our belief that journalists employed by Capitol News Illinois are worthy of press credentials offering the highest level of access to state government. In fact, we believe it is essential that CNI reporters have this access in order to continue to provide reliable, credible, and legitimate news to media outlets across the state.
Capitol News Illinois, operated by the Illinois Press Foundation, was born from a desire to expand unbiased reporting of state government functions at a time when statehouse bureaus are shrinking.
Further, the nonprofit news service is transparent in its funding model and its donors. Among them, the reputable Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
We acknowledge every media outlet seeking press credentials should be individually vetted to ensure the entire organization upholds a journalistic code of ethics. Reporters and editors with Capitol News Illinois have proven to uphold these values and are deserving of such official press distinction.
Jenna Dooley, President, on behalf of the INBA Board