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Starting Jan. 1, a new state task force will study the status of journalism across the state and make recommendations for improvement to the Illinois General Assembly.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed Senate Bill 134 into law. The law was designed to promote and help local journalism.

The legislation forms a 15-person task force called the Local Journalism Task Force. The task force will conduct a comprehensive study relative to communities underserved by local journalism in Illinois, review all aspects of local journalism including, but not limited to, the adequacy of press coverage of communities, print and digital business models for media outlets, the impact of social media on local news, strategies to improve local news access, and public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models and private and nonprofit solutions, and submit findings and recommendations to the governor and General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2023.

State Rep. Dave Vella D-Rockford has been in support of this bill and said that the legislation will be important in getting support back to the local news. 

"You used to have a bunch of local reporters who gave us insight into what is going on in our cities," Vella said. "As the years have gone by, local news has gone by the wayside. I believe it is way too important to let that happen." 

Mike Marron, a Republican state representative from Danville, said while he believes this is something that will help local journalists, a task force is not the way to do it. 

"We have a lot of task forces in Springfield right now, and they don't always yield productive results," Marron said. "While I believe it is an important piece to study, I'm not sure that task force is the way to go about it."

The law will go into effect Jan. 1. A report will be due Jan. 1, 2023.

“Many communities across our country have become news deserts — through this legislation, Illinois is taking a step toward addressing that challenge,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Robust local journalism is vitally important and I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from the task force as we seek to maintain and grow a strong press corps in Illinois.”

The task force will consist of 15 members, all of which will be appointed to be in the task force. The task force will include representatives from: 

  • one member of each chamber appointed by the caucus leader,
  • one member appointed by the Governor,
  • one representative of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University,
  • one representative of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield,
  • one representative of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
  • one representative of the School of Journalism at SIU-C,
  • one representative of the Illinois Press Association,
  • one representative of the Illinois Broadcasters Association,
  • one representative of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association,
  • one representative of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association,
  • one representative of the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council, and
  • one representative of the Illinois Municipal League