Ingalls Urgent Aid
State Senator Steve Stadelman

State Senator Steve Stadelman

Local journalism in Illinois needs a lifeline

By State Senator Steve Stadelman

Democracy dies in darkness. Those words underscore the masthead of The Washington Post every day.

Sadly, the light journalism brings to many communities in Illinois and across the country is dimming. In the past 15 years or so, more than 2,000 newspapers around the country have closed, especially in rural areas.

That means no reporters covering local city council or school board meetings. If people don’t get the information they need to know what’s going on in their town, they can’t make educated decisions when they vote or hold their public officials accountable. Journalists play an important watchdog role in our system.

GSWNH SteveStadelman 111221

State Senator Steve Stadelman

As a television news anchor and reporter in Rockford for nearly 25 years and a state senator for eight years, I’ve seen journalism from both sides. You could say a new Illinois law, which establishes the Local Journalism Task Force, is the result of my two careers intersecting. The legislation I introduced and passed this year calls on the task force to assess the state of local journalism and issue public policy recommendations.

I think there needs to be a serious, open and frank discussion on the future of local news and how its future will affect government. As people rely less on traditional news organizations, we’ve seen a rise in media outlets that push a political agenda. Social media, meanwhile, is far too often the source of false and even dangerous information. Professional news organizations are able to counteract that, helping readers and viewers know the difference.

Dwindling access to local news isn’t just a rural issue, as many corporate owners of bigger-city newspapers cut staff and close bureaus to save money. While a large city still has many media outlets, we know that in our increasingly diverse society, some voices are not being heard.

There’s also an economic argument to be made. Newspapers have historically connected local businesses with readers. Without that connection, the local economy and businesses are hurt.

Members of the Local Journalism Task Force include news organizations that represent working journalists, academic institutions that teach journalism or have conducted studies and research into the issue along with state lawmakers and governor’s staff.

Potential solutions considered in other states include creating a fund to bring news and information to underserved communities, providing tax incentives to persuade media outlets to close local news gaps and more money for public broadcasting.

Or there may be no role for state government as the private sector develops new business models. Nonprofit news websites buoyed by philanthropic foundations have sprung up around the country. So too have partnerships with nonprofit groups that allow traditional news organizations to dig deeper and undertake investigations.

A recent article in The Atlantic points out that equal to its watchdog role is the value of local news in establishing a community’s sense of self through stories on church picnics, restaurant openings and closings, school football games and fights to save a historic building or raise money for a cancer victim: “When that tissue disintegrates, something vital rots away. As local news crumbles, so does our tether to one another.”

People want to know what’s going on in the towns and neighborhoods where they live, work and raise families. Their access to news and local information shouldn’t depend on their ZIP code.

State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Loves Park), has represented the Rockford area in the Illinois Senate since 2013.

Local News

A moment after ground was broken and tossed, smiles broke out among dignitaries celebrating PODER’s coming renovation. A computer-generated video offering a glimpse of what the new facility will look like is posted at southwestregionalpublishing.com. --Photo courtesy of Jorge Garza Norrick/JorgeTookYourPicture.com

New life for old city building

New PODER HQ to serve immigrants By Tim Hadac Ceremonial ground was broken on the west end of Gage Park last week to mark the coming renovation of a 94-year-old City of Chicago building and creation what is billed as Chicago’s first immigrant integration and job center. A lineup of political and business muscle…

UBAM President Anita Cummings and 22nd Ward Ald. Michael Rodriguez listen to feedback from UBAM members about the LeClaire redevelopment. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Dermot Connolly

UBAM leaders hear LeClaire Courts plan

May break ground in mid-2022 By Dermot Connolly The $400 million redevelopment plans for the former LeClaire Courts public housing site were laid out over lunch at a recent meeting of the United Business Association of Midway. Several dozen business owners and community representatives attended the Nov. 10 event at the Red Barrel restaurant on…

GSWNH SanadFoodDistribution_112621

Sanad feeds the hungry in Chicago Lawn

More than a thousand served By Kathy Headley Have faith. Keep going. It will all work out. That was the advice Fatima Abu Eid, director of Sanad Social Services, gave to her daughter Aber, who runs the Sanad Food Pantry, upon being notified that the Greater Chicago Food Depository would indeed be giving them hundreds…

Chicago Police Department

Robbery crew hits Back of the Yards

From staff reports A cluster of robberies in Back of the Yards has promoted police to issue a community alert. Police said the bandits “approach the victims in or near the alley and demand property. Offenders then would flee in dark colored SUV or a red vehicle.” Crime scenes include: 1700 block of West 49th…

GSWNH_OfficerYanez_112621

Hug for a hero

CPD Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. (dark shirt) receives a welcoming hug from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, as Yanez’s family and friends shed tears of joy and applaud. Yanez walked into FOP Lodge 7 headquarters to pay a visit to his union brothers and sisters. Back in August, Yanez was shot…

Ray Stetz, of La Grange, talks with Township of Lyons Assessor Patrick Hynes (right) about possible property tax exemptions. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Township residents talk taxes with elected officials

By Steve Metsch Marek Gil, like many residents, has questions about his property taxes. Plenty of questions. Gil owns two properties, one in Hickory Hills and one in Justice. Asked if his taxes are too high, Gil replied: “Of course.” Gil, who resides in Justice, was among a group of residents who attended the “Coffee…

Summit village officials and employees stand in front of this year's Christmas Tree. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Summit lights village Christmas Tree

By Carol McGowan Nearly 50 people were on hand November 18 as the Village of Summit Christmas tree was lit. It was a true sign of the holidays to come, as the crowd gathered by the tree and sang a Christmas carol while sipping on hot chocolate and coffee. It was one of the first…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announces his intention to run for the 6th Congressional District. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Pekau joins crowded Republican field in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva In what could be one of the most interesting and heated congressional races in the state in 2022, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announced Monday he is planning on running in the new 6th Congressional District. He will be running as a Republican and, so far, will battle energy consultant Niki Conforti in the…

Palos Park's Denise Cowan is one of four citizens to object to the village considering video gaming. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park delays gaming vote again

By Jeff Vorva Someone should send the mayor of Palos Park some Alka-Seltzer. For the third meeting in a row, the Palos Park Village Council did not take any action on bringing gaming machines to town. Mayor John Mahoney and Commissioner Dan Polk are leaning in favor of it to help out the local businesses…

More than 800 runners competed in this year’s Turkey Trot. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Record number of runners come out for 33rd Turkey Trot

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent In 2019, Patrick Foster won the Orland Park Turkey Trot for his first top finish in a competitive race. This year, he was back in the winner’s circle. Foster, an Orland Park native who now lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, finished the 2 1/2-mile race in 14 minutes, 19.9 seconds…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
Northwestern Home Team 250x250 1
A moment after ground was broken and tossed, smiles broke out among dignitaries celebrating PODER’s coming renovation. A computer-generated video offering a glimpse of what the new facility will look like is posted at southwestregionalpublishing.com. --Photo courtesy of Jorge Garza Norrick/JorgeTookYourPicture.com

New life for old city building

New PODER HQ to serve immigrants By Tim Hadac Ceremonial ground was broken on the west end of Gage Park last week to mark the coming renovation of a 94-year-old City of Chicago building and creation what is billed as Chicago’s first immigrant integration and job center. A lineup of political and business muscle…

UBAM President Anita Cummings and 22nd Ward Ald. Michael Rodriguez listen to feedback from UBAM members about the LeClaire redevelopment. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Dermot Connolly

UBAM leaders hear LeClaire Courts plan

May break ground in mid-2022 By Dermot Connolly The $400 million redevelopment plans for the former LeClaire Courts public housing site were laid out over lunch at a recent meeting of the United Business Association of Midway. Several dozen business owners and community representatives attended the Nov. 10 event at the Red Barrel restaurant on…

GSWNH SanadFoodDistribution_112621

Sanad feeds the hungry in Chicago Lawn

More than a thousand served By Kathy Headley Have faith. Keep going. It will all work out. That was the advice Fatima Abu Eid, director of Sanad Social Services, gave to her daughter Aber, who runs the Sanad Food Pantry, upon being notified that the Greater Chicago Food Depository would indeed be giving them hundreds…

Chicago Police Department

Robbery crew hits Back of the Yards

From staff reports A cluster of robberies in Back of the Yards has promoted police to issue a community alert. Police said the bandits “approach the victims in or near the alley and demand property. Offenders then would flee in dark colored SUV or a red vehicle.” Crime scenes include: 1700 block of West 49th…

GSWNH_OfficerYanez_112621

Hug for a hero

CPD Officer Carlos Yanez Jr. (dark shirt) receives a welcoming hug from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, as Yanez’s family and friends shed tears of joy and applaud. Yanez walked into FOP Lodge 7 headquarters to pay a visit to his union brothers and sisters. Back in August, Yanez was shot…

Ray Stetz, of La Grange, talks with Township of Lyons Assessor Patrick Hynes (right) about possible property tax exemptions. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Township residents talk taxes with elected officials

By Steve Metsch Marek Gil, like many residents, has questions about his property taxes. Plenty of questions. Gil owns two properties, one in Hickory Hills and one in Justice. Asked if his taxes are too high, Gil replied: “Of course.” Gil, who resides in Justice, was among a group of residents who attended the “Coffee…

Summit village officials and employees stand in front of this year's Christmas Tree. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Summit lights village Christmas Tree

By Carol McGowan Nearly 50 people were on hand November 18 as the Village of Summit Christmas tree was lit. It was a true sign of the holidays to come, as the crowd gathered by the tree and sang a Christmas carol while sipping on hot chocolate and coffee. It was one of the first…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announces his intention to run for the 6th Congressional District. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Pekau joins crowded Republican field in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva In what could be one of the most interesting and heated congressional races in the state in 2022, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announced Monday he is planning on running in the new 6th Congressional District. He will be running as a Republican and, so far, will battle energy consultant Niki Conforti in the…

Palos Park's Denise Cowan is one of four citizens to object to the village considering video gaming. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park delays gaming vote again

By Jeff Vorva Someone should send the mayor of Palos Park some Alka-Seltzer. For the third meeting in a row, the Palos Park Village Council did not take any action on bringing gaming machines to town. Mayor John Mahoney and Commissioner Dan Polk are leaning in favor of it to help out the local businesses…

More than 800 runners competed in this year’s Turkey Trot. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Record number of runners come out for 33rd Turkey Trot

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent In 2019, Patrick Foster won the Orland Park Turkey Trot for his first top finish in a competitive race. This year, he was back in the winner’s circle. Foster, an Orland Park native who now lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, finished the 2 1/2-mile race in 14 minutes, 19.9 seconds…

House Ad Subscription2
AladdinsBanquets WebAd