WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois Newspapers Speak Up; Was it Enough?

Jul 5, 2016

More than five dozen newspapers across Illinois ran a rare front page editorial on June 29. Under the headline, "Enough," the editorial sharply criticized the governor and legislative leaders for failing to enact a budget for the entire fiscal year.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger commended the newspapers for taking a strong editorial stance.  He’d like to see more media speak up when things are going wrong.  Panelist Jasmine Crighton wishes the newspapers had spoken up sooner. She believes the impact would have been greater if the piece had been published earlier in the month.

Panelist Jonathan Ahl said the newspapers were well organized and made a splash. But he suggested that instead of issuing a strongly worded editorial, newspapers should staff bureaus at the statehouse to more closely report on state government.  The size of the statehouse press corps has shrunk drastically in recent years as newspapers and radio and television stations have looked for ways to save money.

Ahl also feels the papers risked their journalistic integrity by advocating for a position.  But Crighton said newspapers have a history of advocating for certain issues or candidates -- for example with editorial endorsements during elections. Egger said newspapers should write news stories from their editorial board meetings with candidates instead of using the meetings to issue endorsements.