Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register in Springfield reported the Illinois News Network is acquiring the Illinois Radio Network, which provides news reports to stations throughout the state.
IRN was respected for the quality of its reporting from Springfield and Chicago. Some people are concerned whether the reporting will take on a more biased tone as the new owner takes charge because INN is part of the Illinois Policy Institute, which promotes an ideological agenda and has been funded by – among others – Governor Bruce Rauner’s foundation.
Members of the Shop Talk panel are joining those raising concerns.
Panelist Jonathan Ahl hopes INN will prove to be an unbiased media source, but fears it will be a propaganda arm of a partisan group. He says even the appearance of bias will be troubling.
Ahl hopes a non-partisan watchdog group will assess the quality of INN’s reporting.
Jasmine Crighton believes INN won’t rush into propaganda, but Rich Egger disagreed. He pointed out this is an election year so there is little time to waste if the Illinois Policy Institute wants to sway voters in contests for state legislative seats.
Egger said many IRN affiliates used the service as their capitol bureau. He said the ownership change could force those stations to find other means of covering state government. Crighton doubts those stations will hire and base their own reporters in Springfield.