March-April 2021 PressLines

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March-April 2021

SAVE THE DATES! The IPA/IPF Convention is May 5-7 and will be held virtually again this year. Look for registration information soon, and read about our plans in the next edition of PressLines!

MADE IN ILLINOIS

THE IPA HAS BEEN FEATURING STORIES ON RISING STARS IN JOURNALISM WHO WENT TO ILLINOIS COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. READ STORIES ABOUT ARIEL PARRELLA-AURELI (ABOVE) AND OTHERS IN THIS EDITION.


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ILLINOIS PRESSLINES

MARCH-APRIL 2021

When public notices aren’t public anymore

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et again this year there has been legislation introduced that would move public notices out of newspapers onto government websites. HB811 was introduced by Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, and co-sponsored by Democrat Representatives Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove, Sam Yingling of Grayslake, and Carol Ammons of Urbana, and Republican Rep. Joe Sosnowski of Rockford. It appears the sponsor is working with the villages and cities in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, to move this legislation forward. They are contending that paying to post public notices in newspapers is a cost they no longer need because they can just as easily post them to their websites.There are several reasons why this is a bad idea. • There are 7,000 units of government in Illinois, and half don’t even have a website. In my home county (Bureau), only 6 of the 25 municipalities have websites. Of the 25 townships, only 2 have websites. Check out your home county. Where do the public notices go if there is no site? Chances are they just go away. • Government entities are required by statute to post meeting schedules, agendas and minutes to their sites, and we know that the compliance rates are far less than 100 percent for those that even have websites. So, what will the compliance rate be

for posting public notices? • Illinois is a big state. Governmental bodies in the suburbs might have the resources to have a website and the staff to post the content, but many units in other parts of the state simply don’t have those resources. What happens in those communities? • What about internet access, SAM FISHER as we know that urban areas President & CEO have access to broadband but that’s not the case in the rest of the state? Then, what about those individuals who don’t even have internet access? • The cost savings that are touted will never get back to the taxpayer in reduced taxes. • The costs of publishing public notices are a miniscule part of their budgets. Again, in my home county, a school district spent more money at the Swissotel in Chicago than it did on publishing public notices last year. Transparency and accountability are what’s at stake. This bill is not designed to increase transparency, as it’s simply a way to cut costs. If they thought this was the best way to go, public notices would already be on government sites, and

OFFICERS

900 Community Drive Springfield, IL 62703 Ph. 217-241-1300 Fax 217-241-1301 www.illinoispress.org

Stefanie Anderson Paddock Publications Inc./ Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group

Sue Walker | Vice-Chair Herald Newspapers, Inc., Chicago

David Bauer Hearst Newspapers, Jacksonville

Scott Stone | Immediate Past Chair Daily Herald Media Group, Arlington Heights

statewide public notice site run by Illinois newspapers, notifying the public has never been

more efficient, effective and impactful. Posting notices to newspaper websites and the statewide site is done at no additional cost to government and is intended to provide even greater public access to these notices. Currently, HB811 has been assigned to the Executive Committee and there is no hearing scheduled. If a hearing is scheduled, we will notify you and ask that you file a witness slip to oppose the bill. Don Craven has written a piece on how to file a witness slip in this issue. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Don’t let the Legislature take the public out of public notices. If you haven’t already done so, reach out to your local legislator to let them know that HB811 is bad public policy.

DIRECTORS

Don Bricker | Chair Shaw Media, Crystal Lake

Dorothy Leavell | Treasurer Crusader Group, Chicago

they are not. Newspapers across Illinois provide access to public notices and verify compliance by government units. They also serve as a permanent record of public notices. We have played a vital role in providing transparency about government through the publication of public notices. It’s worked for more than 150 years. Now, with the digital reach of newspapers through their websites and the

Durrell Garth Chicago Citizen Newspaper Group Margaret Holt Chicago Tribune Media Group, Chicago

Ginger Lamb Law Bulletin Media, Chicago Rinda Maddux The Sidell Reporter Jim Slonoff The Hinsdalean, Hinsdale Ron Wallace Quincy Herald-Whig Nykia Wright Chicago Sun-Times

IPA STAFF | PHONE 217-241-1300 Sam Fisher, President & CEO Ext. 222 – sfisher@illinoispress.org

Sandy Pistole, Director of Revenue Ext. 238 - spistole@illinoispress.org

Ron Kline, Technology & Online Coordinator Ext. 239 - rkline@illinoispress.org

Tracy Spoonmore, Chief Financial Officer Ext. 237 - tspoonmore@illinoispress.org

Cindy Bedolli, Member Relations Ext. 226 - cbedolli@illinoispress.org

Jeff Rogers, Director of Foundation Ext. 286 – jrogers@illinoispress.org

ILLINOIS PRESSLINES is published bimonthly for $30 per year for Illinois Press Association members by the Illinois Press Association, 900 Community Drive, Springfield, IL 62703. Jeff Rogers, Editor © Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Volume 27 March/April 2021 Number 2 Date of Issue: 3/15/2021


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Even I can do it! Filing witness slips with the Illinois General Assembly I

t’s March, which means the Illinois General Assembly is in full swing. There are many of the usual bad bills, on issues ranging from public notices to FOIA to open meetings and advertising. The IPA Government Relations Committee is meeting every week to review newly filed bills, to take positions on pending legislation, and to report on phone calls with legislators. An important part of delivering our message to lawmakers is still those all-important contacts with legislators from publishers of other representatives of IPA members. Filing witness slips with House or Senate committees is another way to deliver the message. It’s easy, and you don’t have to come to Springfield. I filed a witness slip just before writing this piece for PressLines – I needed the refresher course.

To give yourself cue cards as you go along – go to ILGA. gov, and scroll down to GA Dashboard (it’s in red under Reports and Inquiries). That will give you step-by-step instructions on how to register and fill out a witness slip. Although you can file a witness slip without registering, I suggest you go ahead and register, because it DON CRAVEN is likely that we will be asking IPA Legal Counsel you to register a few times this year, and the second and third time will be easier if you register now. So get yourself registered, and you will get an email confirming the registration. Open another window, so you can hop back and

forth from the instructions to the page to prepare your slip — follow the instructions and it’s really easy. Like I said – even I can do it! The info you will need will be : • The name of the committee; • The bill number; • Whether you are a proponent or an opponent (this is important to know, and will change from bill to bill; • Then just mark that yours is a record of appearance only. This is all information you will be getting from Dave Manning, Sam Fisher or me – or sometimes all three of us. As always, thanks for your help – and it really is true that your contacts with the General Assembly are the most important contacts we have.

Rinda Maddox joins board of Illinois Press Association SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Press Association Board Chairman Don Bricker is pleased to announce that Rinda Maddox, publisher of The Sidell Reporter since 1991, is joining the IPA Board. The Sidell Reporter is a community newspaper published in Sidell in east central Illinois. Its news coverage includes five small communities making up one consolidated school district. Maddox was hired by the newspaper in 1985 as a part-time typesetter and loved typing on the Compugraphic phototypesetter. When the previous owner of the paper skipped town in the middle of the night and made no plans to continue the newspaper, the community talked Maddox into publishing the 103-year-old institution in their town. The rest, as they say, is history. She will celebrate

her 30th year as publisher on May 1. Maddox quickly learned that a great source of information, help and moral support came from the Illinois Rinda Maddux Press Association. From those rough beginnings, the IPA has always been only a phone call away with help. When Maddox began publishing, the local newspaper had been a source for all the social and school news, typical of small-town newspapers. When it came to government news, it was usually a report given to the newspaper by the town clerk after the meeting. But during Maddox’s first month at the helm, there was controversy on the village board and rumors abound. Maddox decided to attend the meeting in person and

report firsthand on what was voted on, what was said by officials, and which ones threw fits and acted like fourth-graders. The newspapers sold out at the newsstands that week. A government watchdog was born. Today, Maddox, 65, feels that being a watchdog for the government bodies in her five towns and school board is the most important role she plays as publisher. She has seen the change from mayors having no respect for the Open Meetings Act (often holding meetings in their garages when no one else is around) to now turning and asking her at a meeting, “Can we do this or does it have to be on the agenda, first?” Maddox was assisted at the newspaper by her husband, Steven, until his passing in 2011. Her daughter, Amanda Maddox Rull, was 5 years old when her mom began working at the

paper. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in journalism and while she was getting her higher learning, she was teaching her mom at the same time with what she was learning in college. It was like two college educations for the price of one! Rull’s husband is a career Air Force serviceman, so even though they have lived in many states, she has continued helping with the newspaper in ad design, proofing and tons of moral support. The two women also work together producing magazines for two national livestock associations. Maddox has always taken advantage of the IPA workshops, online training and sessions at convention to try to better her knowledge. Over the years she has had a staff of one

See MADDOX on Page 6


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2021 legislative session is off and running; a look at bills that would impact the media T

he Illinois Legislature’s 2021 session has begun in earnest. Almost 7,000 bills have been filed by lawmakers in both chambers. The election of House Speaker Emmanuel “Chris” Welch by his fellow House Democrats was followed by new House Rules which require that all House bills filed by members of both parties will be discharged from the House Rules Committee and assigned to a standing House committee. Four thousand bills have been filed in that chamber, and virtual committee hearings have begun and are taking place five days a week. The deadline for these bills to move out of committee is March 26. After that day (assuming the deadline is not changed), bills which did not actually get heard will revert back to the Rules Committee. It is logical, therefore, to expect thousands of bills to effectively die by April 1. At this point in the process, the Illinois Press Association must take every bill which impacts the press seriously, and there are plenty.

Public Notice It came as no surprise that public notice bills would be filed again this year. Here is a quick summary of bills of concern: HB 811 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook). Provides that whenever a governmental unit, community college district, or school district is required to provide notice by publication in a newspaper by law, order of the court, or contract, the governmental unit may publish the notice on an official government website instead of a newspaper. This bill, initiated by the Northwest Municipal Conference, has our full attention and IPA has embarked upon a full-on grassroots campaign against the bill. If you have not yet contacted your legislator about this bill, please do so as soon as possible. Please refer to this position paper. OPPOSED HB 3001 (Rep. Dave Severin, R-Marion). Requires a school board to publish a notice that the district’s annual statement of affairs is available on the State Board of Education’s internet website and in the district’s main administrative office (instead of requiring a summary of the statement of affairs to be published). OPPOSED HB 674 (Rep. Kathleen Willis,

D-Addison). Provides that specified public officers who are required to make statements concerning the use of public funds shall also publish such statements in a newspaper of general circulation. Amends the Fire Protection District Act to provide that all ordinances imposing any penalty or making any appropriations DAVID in a fire protection district MANNING shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general Government Relations circulation in the district. This bill would have the effect of cutting out weeklies from these notices. The law already states that if a paper is not published in the town, then it shall be published in a paper in the county. OPPOSED HB 2412 (Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-North Chicago). Provides that if a notice is required to be published in a newspaper where the city, town, or county consists of more than 52 percent of a single minority group, the notice shall also be published in a local newspaper of that minority group and in the native language of that minority group. SUPPORT

Open Meetings Act HB 2819 (Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville). Provides that if a change is made concerning regular meeting dates, times, or locations (currently only change in dates), at least 10 days’ notice of such change shall be given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which such body functions. SUPPORT HB 2830 (Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur). Provides that a public body shall not conduct a closed meeting by audio or video conference, and shall conduct such meetings only with the physical presence of a quorum of the members of the public body. SUPPORT SB 482 (Sen. Christina Castro, D Elgin). Modifies the requirements by which an open or closed meeting may be conducted by audio or

video conference without the physical presence of a quorum of the members. OPPOSED

FOIA SB 526 (Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview). Provides that records of any investigation by a law enforcement agency into a crime described in the Homicide Article of the Criminal Code of 2012, are exempt from disclosure if the act occurred less than 80 years before the date of the request. Provides an exception to the protection from disclosure if the act was alleged to have been committed by a law enforcement officer. OPPOSED

Other bills HB 378 (Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-South Holland). Provides that for any state agency subject to the provisions of the Procurement Code, no less than 20 percent of the moneys appropriated for or used by that state agency for the purchase of media services shall be used to procure the services of black-owned media. Requires units of local government to adopt an ordinance or resolution for the procurement of black-owned media services. SUPPORT HB 3778 (Rep. Aaron Ortiz, D-Chicago). Bans the advertising of prescription drugs through broadcast by a television or radio station in this state, over the internet from a location in this state, or in a magazine or newspaper printed, distributed, or sold in this state. Provides that a violation is an unfair or deceptive practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. OPPOSED SB 134 (Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford). Creates the Local Journalism Task Force Act. Establishes the Local Journalism Task Force, consisting of appointees by the governor and legislative leaders as well as members representing various entities including the Illinois Press Association. Directs the Task Force to study communities underserved by local journalism and review all aspects of journalism. Provides that the Task Force shall report its findings and recommendations of legislation to the governor and General Assembly. SUPPORT


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Reporting project provides public example of value of Capitol News Illinois, Illinois newspapers Check out the educator shortages coverage! C ollaborations will be a key component of Capitol News Illinois’ continued evolution and growth in the coming months and years. Those collaborations might be with newspapers like yours. They might be with other types of news organizations. They might also be with organizations and groups that aren’t media but have an interest in what happens in state government. In late February, we distributed a series of stories regarding a report from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools about its annual survey of state public school districts about the shortage of teachers and substitute teachers. An overview story reported on what the many districts responding to the survey see as a growing difficulty in finding qualified full-time instructors and substitute teachers. A series of seven other stories looked at that problem in each of the survey’s seven regions of the state. Shortages are worst in more rural areas of the state. Education stories are among the most read in local newspapers. It is not different at Capitol News Illinois, where stories distributed about schools are among those published the most often by the state’s newspapers. So, when the IARSS approached Capitol News Illinois about its survey findings, there was no hesitancy in collaborating. The IARSS wanted to work with Capitol News Illinois because of our news service’s reach. CNI stories are published in more than 430 newspapers with a combined circulation of 2 million. The IARSS wanted access to CNI’s reach because it wants greater attention paid to the growing educator shortages in Illinois’ schools. The IARSS realizes the value of the work Illinois newspapers do, and the

impacts they have on the communities they serve. The greater attention paid, the greater the likelihood of the public, educators and lawmakers collaborating to address the problem. JEFF ROGERS CNI was interested in working Director of Foundation with the IARSS because we knew that newspapers and their readers would be interested in the matter of educator shortages because they impact the quality of education received by their children. The quality of education has a significant impact on the strength of communities. So the IARSS agreed to provide Capitol News Illinois with access to its report and survey results before their public release. The group even agreed to delay that public release until CNI was ready to distribute its reporting. That reporting wasn’t done by CNI alone, however. To give the overview piece and the stories on each of the regions a more local flavor, CNI reached out to editors at a handful of newspapers and news groups throughout the state to collaborate on the project. Those newspapers were asked to talk to local regional superintendents and local district leaders to get their insight on how educator shortages are impacting their schools. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Central Illinois newsrooms in Lee Enterprises, the Shaw Media Local News Network, the Belleville News-Democrat and The Southern Illinoisan for the significant reporting work done to make the stories CNI

Read our overview story about the statewide survey results.

Listen to the Capitol News Illinois team discuss the IARSS survey results 81 percent of northwest districts report educator shortages problem Educator shortages not as serious in northeastern region Teacher shortages seen statewide not as severe in suburban Cook West central schools report worst shortages in the state Rural locations, pandemic worsen shortages in east central region Southwest region turns to substitutes amid worsening shortage Pandemic widens already present gap in southeast Illinois distributed more impactful. Stories were distributed to member newspapers on Friday, Feb. 26, a couple of days ahead of the Monday, March 1, public release of the report. We rewarded the newspapers that collaborated in the project by allowing them to publish the stories in their weekend editions ahead of the report’s release. I hope you found the stories about the survey as interesting as I did. I think they were an excellent example of how collaboration, between CNI and its newspaper partners, and between CNI and an organization with an interest in state government policy, can make for reporting that makes our readers more aware of important issues. If it moves some readers to talk to their school district superintendents and their local lawmakers

about finding solutions to the problem, it was well worth the effort. If it moves lawmakers to make addressing educator shortages a legislative priority, it was worth the effort. I also hope the series of stories spurs your newsroom to do even more localized reporting on the situations in your schools. That also will have made this collaborative project worth the time and effort. And if you do that additional reporting, please share it with me! Because Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit venture, we’re always looking for new sources of funding. It is my hope that projects like this one on educator shortages make even more evident the value of the reporting done by CNI and the reach it has through your newspapers and others.


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Statehouse reporting internships available through PAR program Are you a young reporter looking for a way to level up your news reporting skills, get solid on-the-job journalism experience inside the Illinois Capitol, and a University of Illinois master’s degree – all in just 10 months? Apply now for the University of Illinois Springfield’s M.A. program in Public Affairs Reporting. The PAR program is a unique blend of classroom study and real-life work experience featuring a six-month internship during which you'll earn academic credit working as a fulltime reporter in the Illinois Statehouse pressroom for a professional newspaper, wire service, radio outlet or TV station. Along the way, you'll pick up scores of clips or hours of broadcast reel as impressive proof to your next prospective boss that you can cover a very demanding beat at the highest professional level. You'll also receive a monthly stipend and a

tuition waiver during the internship, making PAR one of the most costand time-efficient ways to boost your journalism career prospects. Scholarships are also available. Applications for fall 2021 are being accepted through April 1. For more information, visit www.uis.edu/par or contact program director Jason Piscia at (217) 206-7494 or jason. piscia@uis.edu. EOE.

Get your 2021 IPA membership logo! Do you need your 2021 Illinois Press Association membership logo? Email Cindy Bedolli at cbedolli@illinoispress.org to get one!

LET OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS HANDLE ALL THE DETAILS: • Publication & placement of public notices • Track & monitor status of each publication • Presentation of tear sheets & certificates online • Responsive customer support • Timely eInvoicing • eFiling of certificates

MADDOX

• Easy Cancellation Process

Continued from Page 3 part-time secretary/assistant and a couple of stringers helping with stories, sports and some ad sales. Currently, she is working alone in the office as her secretary of more than six years, Vicki Delhaye, passed away from COVID-19 complications in January. She still has a freelance writer (who also helps with ad sales) and a distribution manager. Maddox, along with her small staff, have won numerous awards in the IPA and NNA Editorial and Advertising award contests over the years. “Rinda’s publication and her work

INNOVATIVE PUBLIC NOTICE SOLUTIONS

are typical of the majority of IPA members. Her insights on owning and running a small-town weekly newspaper will give the IPA board an important perspective,” said Sam Fisher, president and CEO of the Illinois Press Association. “She has contributed much to the Association through the years and I’m excited about having her join the board.” It is also noteworthy that Maddox is now the seventh woman on the 13-member board. A full listing of board members is on Page 2 of every edition of PressLines.

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Be known for your great customer service!

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reat customer service can drive sales! It can be your best sales tool during uncertain times. When you deliver great customer service you can outshine your competition, give your company a good name and build solid relationships with your clients. Companies that focus on building relationships with customers internally and externally rank high in customer service. We have all experienced bad customer service. I did at lunch today. It was obvious the waitress did not have her head in the game, as we had to ask for things two or three times before we got them, and my order came out wrong. It was very disappointing to have this kind of service at a better restaurant. Since I’ve never had bad service there before, I will go back. But many times people don’t return because of bad service. How do you give good customer service? Customers want to know that you are in the game for them; that you are working for them the best way you can. There are many companies that have mastered great customer service like Amazon, which is known for its good customer service. Its priority is to “put the customer first.” Amazon has a culture from the top down to put its customers before what works for the company. Chick-fil-A is known for its great service because the staff is professional and courteous. Its employees have been rated one the most polite in its industry. Zappo’s is known for

“going extreme” for its customers, even if it’s costly. At Disney the staff is constantly on the lookout for ways to deliver happiness to their guests. So how do we deliver great customer service? 1. Put the customer first every day: Return phone calls, emails, texts within 1-2 hours, and if you can’t, let know when you will get SANDY PISTOLE them back with them. When your response is quick, it makes Director of Revenue the person feel important and confirms they got the message. If possible, try to take care of why they contacted you within 24 hours. 2. Be professional, courteous and polite: If there is a discrepancy, don’t tell them they are wrong. Don’t argue. Listen and tell them you want to help them. Sometimes they are having a bad day and need to vent. 3. Do anything and everything within your power to deliver good customer service: You have company policies to follow, and there may be a situation in which the lines are blurred. If that is the case, go to your supervisor to see what you can do.

4. Be proactive and not reactive: It’s better for you to call the customer than have them call you about a problem. If an ad didn’t run, your customer will most likely be more accepting if you notify them of the error versus if the client calls you. Take care of it immediately. 5. Be empathetic: Understand and reflect your client’s feelings so the client knows they’ve been heard and supported. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel if it was you who had an issue with a bill or had an error in an ad. 6. Constantly look for ways to deliver good customer service: Take donuts to them on a morning of a busy day, send a card on their birthday, or give them a bonus ad just because. Surprise and delight them. 7. Underpromise and overdeliver: When you tell your client you are going to do something, get it done ahead of time. For example, if you tell them you will have the proposal to them in three days, get it to them in one. 8. Answer the phone like you are glad they are calling: Use your happy voice to answer the phone. By paying attention to how you are serving your internal and external customers and making them want to work with you, you will gain more sales and referrals over time. Be known for your great service!

News-Gazette honored again by E&P Once again, Editor & Publisher has selected an Illinois newspaper as one of the “10 News Publishers That Do It Right” in its annual recognition of the top newsrooms and projects in the nation. And, once again, the News-Gazette of Champaign is among the top 10. The central Illinois journalism powerhouse was honored along with others in the trade magazine’s March 2021 edition. “Newsrooms around the world were dealing with difficult challenges — from the loss of advertising revenue to ensuring the health and safety of their staff,” Editor & Publisher reporters Nu Yang and Evelyn Mateos wrote in the edition. “Obviously, newsrooms had a lot on their plates, and we were not even certain how many newsrooms would submit to this year’s contest. But we were pleased to receive more than 50 nominations.

“Our 10 news publishers (and honorable mentions) had to learn how to navigate a brand-new world. Whether it was pivoting to virtual events to offering creative and innovative advertising packages to address the needs of their communities, they were able to find a silver lining during a very tough season. Yes, we’re still going through this pandemic, but after pulling through 2020, these newsrooms are positive that the best is still yet to come.” The News-Gazette is being honored by E&P for the sixth time since 2015. It was an honorable mention recipient last year. This year, the News-Gazette was honored for its “Being Black In America” series. Here’s what E&P wrote about the NewsGazette: The killing of George Floyd, a Minnesotan Black man

See NEWS-GAZETTE on Page 8


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NEWS-GAZETTE Continued from Page 7 who died while in police custody last year, sparked a nationwide movement as well as innovative initiatives among news organizations and journalists covering the social unrest. The NewsGazette was one newsroom with a modest idea that went a long way: Let people tell their own story. On June 7, about two weeks after Floyd’s death, readers of the News-Gazette were introduced to a new series called “Being Black in America,” which featured firstperson essays about what it was like to be Black in 2020 in Champaign. “The goal was to educate people — me included,” editor Jeff D’Alessio told E&P. The essays were written by traditional community leaders like reverends, judges, and university professors as well as community residents. D’Alessio said he gave them an average word count of 600 to 800 words, and there were no specific requirements they had to meet. While many leaders wrote a narrative piece, some got creative and delivered a poem. About 75 percent of the essays ran on A-1 and all of them were published online. In one essay, Ronda Holliman, a mother and a judge, recounted the first time she was called “the N word.” Ervin Williams, a local reverend, described how one night in the 1960s, he and his family awoke to a cross burning in front of their home, and it troubled them so much they armed themselves for protection. In a time when many people are rebuffing media, D’Alessio said the uplifting feedback he has heard from the series has made it all worthwhile. Additionally, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones’ essay — where he shares his encounters with racism growing up in Georgia — was one of the NewsGazette’s website’s most read stories of 2020, with 18,000 pageviews. Currently, the newspaper has published a total of 42 essays. D’Alessio said if the newspaper

receives more submissions, he will continue to publish them under the series. “We have the ability and the credibility to make a difference just with what we publish, even if it’s not our own words,” D’Alessio said. “I say throw out the old journalism rulebook and display the most

compelling content in a way that is going to reach the masses and potentially have the biggest impact.” For now, the News-Gazette is looking forward to working with a newly created informal advisory panel, which was inspired by “Being Black in America.” The panel includes those who contributed essays and other

prominent community members. Here’s what Jim Rossow, vice president of news for the News-Gazette, said about the recognition from E&P: As proud as we are to be included in Editor & Publisher’s coveted “10 Publishers That Do It Right” for the third time in seven years, the credit this time goes to a group outside our newsroom: The 42 men and women who volunteered their time, talent and testimony for a “Being Black In America” project that made a difference in 2020. A heartfelt thank-you to: Aaron Alford, Dennis Austin, Patricia Avery, Gianina Baker, Evette Campbell, Keisha Carthen, Valena Claiborne, Dionne Clifton, Darnell Cox, Rev. Andre Crittenden, Shanae Dowell, Margareth Etienne, Anthony Figueroa, Clarissa Nickerson Fourman, Rev. Robert Freeman, Dana Gillon, Sharva HamptonCampbell, Marnita Harris, Lamont Holden, Ronda Holliman, Gladys Hunt, Shirese Hursey, Sheila Johnson, Robert Jones, Peggy LaFrance, Karena LaPlace, Patricia McKinney Lewis, Shannon McFarland, LeConte Nix, David Northern, Cynthia Oliver, Minnie Pearson, Evelyn Reynolds, Karen Simms, Christopher Span, Endalyn Taylor, Rev. Keith Thomas, Rev. Terrance Thomas, Marietta Turner, Sheldon Turner, Staci Ward, Rev. Ervin Williams “This is as much a community award as a News-Gazette award,” said D’Alessio, the initiative’s coordinator. “Nothing we could have produced in-house could have come close to matching the powerful first-person stories our special guest contributors were kind enough to share.” The other nine winners included a mix of metro newspapers (Star Tribune, Newsday, Tennessean), magazines (Variety) and specialty publications (Business Publications Corp.). Here is the complete list and the innovative ideas that caught the judges’ attention.


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MADE IN ILLINOIS On our website and in our e-Bulletin email newsletter, the Illinois Press Association has been showcasing fast-rising, future stars in journalism who went to journalism school right here in the Prairie State. Here are some of their stories. You can find more at the Illinois Press Association website, illinoispress.org.

Living the Swiss Army life Columbia College grad Ariel Parrella-Aureli thrives as full-time freelancer By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association CHICAGO – Ariel Parrella-Aureli made a quick correction. “I never say no to an assignment,” the 2017 Columbia College graduate said during a recent Zoom interview with the Illinois Press Association, before looking off camera for a moment. “Well, actually I recently had to turn one down.” Welcome to life as a full-time freelancer, the new normal for so many fast-risers in journalism. “I do have to remember what I already have on my plate before accepting new work,” the 26-yearold said. On New Year’s Eve, Parrella-Aureli reminisced on her first full year as a full-time freelancer with a Twitter thread of her favorite stories that served as silver linings along the black cloud that was 2020. Way back in February, she got her first Chicago Tribune byline, a feature on an LGBTQ icon. In May, she got hit by a car while riding her bike and wrote about it for one of her regular employers, StreetsBlog Chicago, on her editor’s urging. “I don’t want to write about myself. I want to write about everyone else doing great things in the community,” she said. “So that was a weird moment where I had a story to share. Why would my story be less valuable than Jessica next door? And if I had this experience, I’m sure others have had this experience, too.” Also in May, she wrote a piece for The Reader, an alternative Chicago newsroom, on the pandemic’s impact on sex workers. Her lede was nothing short of deliciously macabre: “Lady Sophia Chase has never been so ravenous for BDSM,” it reads. Parrella-Aureli said she’s still getting used to shifting between the styles of each outlet, while still being true to her own voice. “I’ve found that I have gotten better at letting my

Ariel Parrella-Aureli interviews two founders of a Logan Square clothing brand in the neighborhood’s Mozart Park in summer 2020. (Photo by Kathleen Niemann) personal voice shine through to some publications that allow that,” she said. “I just taught myself how to do that, and it’s just (about) becoming more confident in my work and my writing. I also laugh about it, because I’m trying to keep that floating while still being me. Nobody teaches that to you in college.” Naturally, she wrote many pieces that centered on civil rights issues, including her first Black Lives Matter protest in early June for her most frequent employer, Block Club Chicago, and her first piece for the national publication Insider, on

the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in downtown Chicago. She and a scrum of reporters waited for more than four hours to document the event. “It was such a fun night, and it was crazy to experience it,” Parrella-Aureli said. Getting that assignment was an exhibition in pitching a story relatively blindly. She didn’t have a relationship with the editor she pitched, but a colleague urged her to send it anyway.

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN'S INTERVIEW WITH ARIEL PARRELLA-AURELI. Soon thereafter, she pitched Insider on a Count Every Vote event. The editor green-lighted a story immediately. “It was that simple,” Parrella-Aureli said. “It’s incredible how simple this can be.” She’s also a regular contributor for Eater Chicago, and got to write a piece on a chef who returned to the city to serve at-risk youth. “Reporting this made me laugh/ cry/sympathize and brought on all the feels,” Parrella-Aureli said in her Twitter thread. During her time working for the Columbia Chronicle, she dreamed of a full-time job at The Atlantic or the New York Times. “In college, that was a thing,” Parrella-Aureli said. “But the gig economy has changed immensely in the past three years. Those goals, I don’t care for them anymore. There’s such a rich scene and journalism world here in Chicago I’m so blessed to be a part of.” She spent her first 2½ years out of college working part-time as a digital producer for WBBM 780AM, while freelancing on the side. In November 2019, she left that job and took the plunge into full-time freelancing. Parrella-Aureli compared the

uncertainty of those first months, and the process of renewing past acquaintances and developing new relationships with editors, to walking through mud. “Things are so hard to walk through, but once you get through it and you’re swimming in water,” she said. She says a freelancer course is now taught in Columbia’s journalism school. “That was not a thing when I was there,” she said, laughing. “A lot has changed in the past three years. And I think I’m finally happy with where I’m at.” She’s not alone. Jen Sabella, a cofounder of and director of strategy for Block Club, said freelancers like Parrella-Aureli, with her sparklingclean copy and reliability, are invaluable. “If I get a tip and don’t have a free reporter, I’ll ping Ariel. And 90 percent of the time, she’s on it,” Sabella said. “She has a real knowledge of the city. You need to have that knowledge. Chicagoans will smell it from a mile away if you’re pretending to know the city. She’s always out about, meeting new people and exploring.” “She’s one of our most trusted contributors,” echoed Shamus

Toomey, editor-in-chief and another co-founder of Block Club. He said the editorial team is 17 strong, including five editors, and that while full-timers produce the bulk of the material, Parrella-Aureli is one of a few contributors who are constantly in the mix. When pressed, Sabella said her favorite Parrella-Aureli piece was her profile of a 101-year-old woman who lost her life to COVID-19, part of a 27-story series Block Club published. Sabella pointed to one quote in particular in the piece on Margie Rodriguez, who lit up the room with her huge personality until the virus extinguished her light. “She still thought she was young,

and she would slander old people,” Rodriguez’s grandson, Ian Roberts, said in the piece. “That’s such a great detail,” Sabella said. “To get details like that, it’s just having a lot of empathy and being able to listen and communicate really well. It’s asking the right questions. She really got in there and put a face on the tragedy.” The piece also served as a reminder to Parrella-Aureli that her health and happiness are paramount. “I love to be busy, so it gets hard sometimes to take a moment, reflect and do self-care and a progress check on what I’ve done,” she said. “Let’s remember, journalists are humans, too, and we have complex emotions like everyone else.”


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Augustana students become news literacy educators Duo practices compassion, restraint in battle against misinformation By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association ROCK ISLAND – While the coeditors-in-chief of the Augustana Observer began their education as freshmen with a course in news literacy, this past year has been particularly enlightening. Senior Brady Johnson and junior Olivia Doak have learned to read laterally, vet sources, and have picked their battles with friends, family and strangers who have spread misinformation. So it’s troubling to them when veteran journalists, albeit long removed from a college course in news literacy, have failed to debunk misinformation, and even spread it however consciously. “It can be frustrating when you know all these things, and others don’t, people who’ve been around a lot longer than we have,” said Doak, a double-major in journalism and mass communications. “We talked about misinformation in class, and it really changed the way I looked at information. It changed the way I was writing and made me aware of any bias in my writing.” Getting others to be self-critical? That’s far trickier. Johnson said his older brother, for instance, has regularly spread misinformation recently. “He’s not a QAnon person, but he’s starting to question the validity of some things that are facts,” Johnson said. He said that when he’s confronted his brother and others, he comes prepared with his own research and articles from reputable outlets such as NPR and PBS. “Hopefully I don’t come across as someone who’s trying to prove them wrong,” Johnson said, adding that he often points out accuracies within others’ viewpoints, as something

Brady Johnson and Olivia Doak, co-editors-in-chief of the Augustana Observer, are shown in the student newspaper's office. of an olive branch. “I try to be welcoming and try to find something that they’re saying that’s right.” Doak said it’s important to be aware that there’s only so much time in a day, and so much energy to confront everyone spreading false information. And in many cases, you have to pick your battles and weed out the ones that can’t be won. “Usually people who are sharing those kinds of things aren’t going to listen to you,” she said. “I know some people will just attack me. So I usually just ignore it, but it depends on the person. If I know them well, I’ve sent something before.” Fighting the good fight as a college newsroom has been particularly challenging during the pandemic. In spring 2020, Augustana College froze funds for student jobs for about a month, and then for some time the

Observer was on a rotation during which only a couple of employees were paid at a time. Historically, the Observer has had about 40 staffers in total. Now it has a bit more than 20, and it’s been an adventure keeping tabs on them since Johnson and Doak became editors-in-chief in the fall. A few staffers have contracted COVID-19, and many have been quarantined when a housemate has gotten sick. “It’s been super-difficult,” Doak said. “A lot of staff I haven’t met face-to-face, and I wouldn’t probably recognize them if I saw them around campus. So that’s strange.” Johnson, who said he’s wanted to be a journalist since the seventh grade, when the nightly news and morning shows were always on in his home, said one way he’d like to attack misinformation is through human interest stories.

“Those stories show the best of people, while also addressing big issues,” he said. Doak echoed her passion for issuedriven features, and admitted that the daily grind of exclusively hard news might not be for her in the long haul. Both she and Johnson are well aware of the shift toward the gig economy, but Johnson is hopeful he can land a job in a traditional newsroom. In fact, he said he’s looking at opportunities in bigger markets, where many large newspaper groups have cut loose long-tenured employees and their salaries that dwarf those of newcomers. “I might be more lucky finding a job entering,” he said. Johnson grew up in Peoria and was an intern at the Journal Star in summer 2018. “Most of the staff was gone, so I was aware of the landscape,” he said. “I’d like a job that can just keep an apartment.” But first, he, Doak, and their team have a monumental project to bring home: the Observer’s first magazine, which will center on social justice. They hope to print about 800 copies. After the pandemic forced the Observer to shift from printing weekly to occasionally, to see the magazines in people’s hands as they’re read on campus will be something to behold. “Oh my gosh, I’ll be so happy,” Doak said. “I prefer having something in front of me. I prefer seeing everything laid out. “Last year, whenever I saw somebody reading our issues, I’d get so excited. People don’t take the time to read the news in general. To see them actually sitting down and reading something makes me so happy.”


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‘It is truly the American dream’ Inspired by immigrant parents, St. Xavier grad emerges as star TV reporter By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association COLUMBUS, Ohio – There’s a certain amount of irony that Chicago native Kenya Ramirez has broken out as a star television reporter in Ohio, the state whose “General American,” accentless voice trainers have tried to coach into young broadcasters for decades. While earning her bachelor’s degree at St. Xavier University, Kenya, a child of Mexican immigrants, felt socially awkward and uncomfortable speaking in public. She felt cruelly trapped between two worlds: a world where Latinx people feel she sounds unauthentically white, and white people feel her accent is not white enough. Now she’s the Latinx face and voice for NBC affiliate WCMH-4 in Columbus, where she relentlessly, holistically covers the underserved Hispanic community. “I can’t even tell you how proud I am of her,” said Peter Kreten, St. Xavier’s director of student media. “She’s such a trailblazer, and she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it.” The private university’s student body was a world apart from that of Kelly High School on the South Side. “It never crossed my mind that I was going to struggle in that aspect, but there was a lot of self-judgment,” Kenya said. “Here were all these white people, all of them with huge vocabularies. I felt like I spoke weird. But I’ll tell you what, I never showed it. I tried my best to hide it, but eventually it got to me.” “There’s regret because I didn’t know she was experiencing that when

Kenya Ramirez, a 2017 graduate of St. Xavier University, is shown on set at the NBC affiliate WCMH-4 in Columbus, Ohio. I was working with her,” Kreten said. In hindsight, there were red flags. “There would be a mistake, like a simple mistake, like she misspelled something in the body of her story, and she’d get very upset about that,” Kreten said. “She would say little things like, ‘It has to be perfect. I have to be perfect with this.’” “I didn’t want to be seen as weak,” Kenya said. “If you show your vulnerable side, people use it against you.” She couldn’t bear the thought of becoming a statistic, a child of an immigrant who couldn’t clear the massive hurdles society had erected. She hopes that with her tireless reporting on the underserved, minority-rich communities of

Columbus, she’s helping tear down those barriers. As Kreten scratches his head, trying to pick apart clips she still sends him for tips, he knows she’s doing it. “That’s one thing I admire about her: She just wants to keep getting better. She wants to be the best she can be,” he said. “So I’ll just sit and watch, and I don’t know what feedback I can give her. She’s killing it.” He’ll always be watching and rooting for her. And he’s far from alone. “I will always fight for her,” he said. “She’s so good, and it’s a very aweinspiring story she has. Her story, the story of her father and her family, it truly is the American dream.”

Tears in his coffee Mauricio Ramirez punched the clock as early as 4 a.m. and often didn’t get home until 9 p.m. The more bread he sold for Bimbo Bakeries USA, the more bread he could scrape aside so his daughter could be a firstgeneration college student. “As I got older, I’d dedicate Sundays to my father,” Kenya said. “I told my friends I couldn’t hang out with them on Sundays.” They filled those days with ice cream, meals out, and trips to the movies. “She didn’t have too many hours with me,” Mauricio said. “She wanted to spend more time with her father,

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RAMIREZ Continued from Page 12 but I had to work.” When she had a weekend karate tournament in Georgia, and he was able to take off that Saturday, no two people were ever so grateful to be stuck in a car for a 20-hour round trip. “That was our time together,” Mauricio said. Kenya vividly remembers her father telling her, when she was about 10, that she had to go to college. She was devastated when a high school counselor told her that even though she got straight-As, college wouldn’t be an option because her family was too poor. “That was hard for me,” Mauricio said. “How do you explain to her that she can do it when her counselor tells her she’s never going to make it?” Kenya’s spirit wasn’t crushed. It might have been galvanized. She got into Columbia College, but transferred after one semester to St. Xavier, which helped her parents in multiple ways. The tuition was more

affordable, and with the university being on the South Side, she could still drive her mother to work, and to get groceries. Kenya’s career path took some twists and turns. She worked as an immigration law firm’s secretary for two years and considered going into the field. She was floored by the number of hoops immigrants had to go through to achieve citizenship. Rather than fight those cases, she wanted to tell those stories. “The requirements are insane,” she said. “I realized these stories just need to be told more. Once those stories are told, the conversation opens. People start talking.” She did a social media internship at WGN, but got intrigued while shadowing a reporter. When told to put together a reel, she watched some YouTube videos, bought a tripod and a microphone on Amazon, and used her iPhone to slap one together.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” she said, laughing. “I was the definition of green.” Nonetheless, she was given a shot in central Illinois, where she worked in the Champaign-Urbana bureau. “I didn’t even attend my graduation. I went straight to the job,” she said. “I was too scared to ask … for a day off to go to my graduation.” She said her parents didn’t believe her when she told them she’d already gotten a job. Mauricio insisted he drive her to Champaign, chalking it up to Kenya not knowing how to drive on the interstate. She vividly remembers having breakfast at a Mexican restaurant, and her father breaking down and crying, with pride, and with heartbreak. Maurcio said the tears kept flowing that night when he got home. “I never saw my wife cry like that in all the time we were married,” he said.

‘I owe it all to my parents’ After working two years in central Illinois, in July 2020 Kenya landed the job in Columbus, where she’s the only Latinx reporter on staff. Upon arrival, she recognized minority-rich communities were underserved — by both the media and the government. “Black and brown communities aren’t getting vaccinated because it’s not translated,” she said. “[The station has] been very encouraging about covering those stories. I’m telling stories no one else is telling. It means a lot to hear that my representation matters.” In other words, she’s truly starting to find her voice. “I think in the back of her mind, she always remembers her community, her roots and where she came from,” Kreten, her adviser from St. Xavier, said. “When she hears these stories, it has a personal impact on her. She feels a personal service of getting news out to a community, and also being a role model, that people

in the Latinx community can see someone who looks like them on TV. In her audience she sees her parents.” As Kenya interviewed residents working toward their citizenship, or being overwhelmed by emotion as they voted for the first time, she thought of helping her parents get their green cards when she was 21. While Kenya keeps chipping in at home from afar, and as she solidifies her place in the Columbus community, she’s getting her master’s degree through Western Illinois University. Mauricio is still studying to take the citizenship exam. “This is a big, big goal for him,” Kenya said. “I knew once the elections were coming up that there were other people here just like my dad, so excited to finally be allowed to vote where they’ve lived for so long, and to be able to say these are the changes they’d like to see.” Remember how she skipped her graduation ceremony out of concerns over job security? She’s prepared to take off from work the day her father gets his citizenship paperwork. “A lot of my stories come from inspiration from my parents,” she said. “The stories I’m covering, I’ve seen them with my own eyes all my life.” That includes the parents working themselves to the bone, staking all their blood, sweat and tears on their children’s future. “A lot of my friends didn’t finish school because they couldn’t afford it,” Kenya said. “I owe it all to my parents. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.” So she repays the favor in many ways, big and small. She answers the phone every morning her father calls. She calls him every night. “I’m really lucky,” Mauricio said. “Some of my friends get really surprised that she actually calls me. I’m really lucky.” That’s the thing about the American dream. Oftentimes, it’s on us to make our own luck.


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Kierra Frazier ‘a reporter’s reporter’ NIU student newspaper news editor delivers with a resting heart rate By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association DeKALB – When stories are creating a stir on campus, as adviser of Northern Illinois University’s student newspaper, The Northern Star, Shelley Hendricks makes a point of checking in on her reporters. When situations have created racial unrest, she’s spoken with one of her two Black student employees, Kierra Frazier, 21, to make sure she’s holding up emotionally. “When we get a big one going that’s generating a lot of talk on campus, I’ll say, ‘How are you doing?’” Hendricks said. “I remember her response more than the setup. She’ll be like, ‘I’m fine. Why are you asking?’ That is such a mature reporter reaction. She’s just a reporter’s reporter.” As quiet, focused and matter-offact as Frazier comes across, the third-year student makes noise every chance she gets to recruit more Black talent to The Northern Star. “It’s also really hard to do, especially in a pandemic,” Frazier said. Frazier, who will graduate in December, changed majors from English to journalism just one week into her freshman year at NIU. She joined the National Association for Black Journalists, and the chapter took a tour of The Northern Star, where she quickly landed a job as a reporter. “The comment I’d heard from a lot of Black students on campus was that there weren’t a lot of Black students at The Northern Star,” Frazier said. “While I’m still here, I want to make sure it’s a welcoming place for students of color.” Hendricks said since 2012, half of her editors have been Latinx, but she’s constantly trying to figure out

Kierra Frazier, a third-year student at Northern Illinois University, works in the office of The Northern Star on the DeKalb campus. Frazier is a news editor at the student publication. (Christopher Heimerman/for the Illinois Press Association) how to recruit Black students so the staff’s diversity reflects that of the student body. Each year, she invites the NABJ chapter for a tour, “with the hope some cross-pollination will happen. That’s how we got Kierra. She was just the new freshman walking through.” The Northern Star transitioned permanently from a twice-weekly print publication to online-only – which was already in the plans but expedited by COVID-19. Where

the pandemic has truly wreaked havoc is with recruiting opportunities. “We’re at a low for staffing with all identities,” Hendricks Shelley Hendricks said. “But we’re the whitest we’ve been since 2012. I used to brag about our diversity, with the asterisk that we always need more Black students. Our biggest struggle has been with our Black community on campus,

and we need to totally rebuild that.” The NABJ was the first student organization Frazier joined, and every opportunity she gets, she urges her classmates to join that group, as well as The Northern Star. She said there are many barriers standing between people of color and the historically white maledominated newspaper industry. “There’s also a lot of time dedication to The Northern Star,”

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FRAZIER Continued from Page 14 Frazier said. “Typically, students of color come from under-resourced backgrounds, so they can’t dedicate the time or resources.” Frazier is very deliberate about setting an example in her reporting. She admits it’s a challenge to remain objective when covering racially sensitive events such as Black Lives Matter protests. But she stays in her lane as a journalist, her hand on the horn ready to blare it when someone commits a foul. “I know a lot of journalists have had arguments on the terminology,” she said. “For me, it’s about making sure we’re paying attention to the way we word things in these stories and making sure we’re

spelling people’s names right, and capitalizing the ‘B’ in black.” Frazier takes cues from such hyperlocal publications as Block Club Chicago, and she’s a regular reader of The Sun-Times, naturally, and her local paper, the Daily Chronicle. The pandemic laid waste to two golden opportunities for Frazier: an all-expenses-paid New York Times Student Journalism Institute in late May for which she’d been accepted, and an internship with Newsday in Long Island over summer of 2020. She’s grateful for an internship with the local NPR affiliate, WNIJWNIU, during her freshman year and a stint at The Sun-Times, where

Kierra Frazier

she got to profile Aldis Hodge, an actor famous for his role in “Straight Outta Compton.” “I’m not really good at entertainment stories, so I’m not sure the story was all that good,” she said, laughing “But it was fun interviewing

him.” She also writes for the national outlet Wired Media, and said among her favorite pieces was one on GenZers leading up to the election. Frazier and Hendricks agreed there’s a danger in promoting talented reporters out of their strength.

“I like editing, but I don’t really enjoy managing all the other reporters, along with my job, my classes and everything,” Frazier said. “My favorite thing about journalism is interviewing and talking to people, and writing.” While she might not envision herself as an entertainment writer, she’s open to virtually any beat – as long as it’s in an urban setting, after she was born in Georgia and lived in Ohio and rural Milwaukee before moving to DeKalb. “I’d prefer more of a city atmosphere,” she said, laughing. “I grew up around cornfields most of my life.”

What? Cash for my ideas? Yes, please! That’s right, your great advertising ideas can win you cash during the “Revenue Idea Exchange - That’s My Idea!” virtual session at the IPA/IPF Virtual Convention. Enter your idea(s) by emailing a pdf and description to the email below. Include whose idea it was, what the idea was, when you did it, why it was done, and the results. The “Revenue Idea Exchange - That’s My Idea” is open to all ideas, and the top four ideas will be selected to win $50 in cash. You may enter as many times as you want. Your entries can be advertisements/ products from August 2020-February 2021. We will present the best ideas and winners during the “Revenue Idea Exchange - That’s My Idea!” virtual session at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 6. Please send your ideas to spistole@illinoispress.org by Friday, April 9.

Free Webinar: Automated Podcasting with Audio Articles Mathew Larson, president and CEO of Our Hometown Inc., will be presenting a webinar, “Automated Podcasting with Audio Articles” at 9 a.m. March 18. Larson will present several case studies from publishers that are using Audio Articles to transform their newspaper into a podcast. Using automated text-to-speech transcription tools, Audio Articles Podcast presents a turnkey opportunity for any newspaper on Our Hometown's WordPress Platform

to launch a podcast and expand its brand into the audio space. Through a partnership with BuzzSprout, the audio articles can be syndicated to all major podcast apps and embedded as a playlist on their website's homepage. In their latest innovation, Our Hometown can now produce a podcast from any CMS if the newspaper can provide an RSS feed with the articles they want to appear as audio episodes. Register for this session here.


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Neither snow nor rain stops Athena Pajer Decaturian editor talks leadership, truth, existentialism By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association DECATUR – Some folks like to get away to London to witness the majesty of Buckingham Palace. To attend evening Mass in breathtaking St. Paul’s Cathedral. To enjoy fish and chips with a pint in lackluster weather. Millikin University senior Athena Pajer, on the other hand, basked in the Evening Standard, mingled with journalists from the stalwart newsroom, and dived headfirst into researching press freedom around the world. Upon her return in January 2020 from a semester studying abroad, jet lag be damned, she couldn’t wait to apply what she’d learned in her capstone project: a United States press freedom index. “I felt very motivated right in January, but it was hard to jump right back in,” said Pajer, the 21-year-old editor-in-chief of Millikin’s student newspaper, the Decaturian. “Just coming back to Decatur was a huge shift. I had reverse culture shock.” From the perspective of Scott Lambert, an associate professor at Millikin and the newspaper’s adviser, Pajer simply resumed her modus operandi. “When she came back, she had a million new ideas she thought she needed to do,” Lambert said. “She’ll try to do everything herself, and she’ll end up with 10 to 12 plates spinning at the same time. As an adviser, you find you become more of a psychiatrist than anything else, so that students who want to do this don’t burn themselves out. “18-hour days are coming.” So was a pandemic. “Right as I was getting my footing again, and we were doing some great

Athena Pajer returned to Millikin University in January 2020 from a semester of studying abroad to be editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Decaturian. “Right as I was getting my footing again, and we were doing some great stories, that’s of course when COVID hit,” Pajer said. stories, that’s of course when COVID hit,” Pajer said.

To write or to edit As an old soul who takes immense satisfaction in correcting passive voice writing, and as an editor who

feeds off others’ success, Pajer misses the in-person process. Students were given the option to work for the Decaturian from anywhere, so many of them are home with their families. “Having them gone has really sucked. It’s sucked a lot,” Pajer said.

“They’re just really great people, who pump up the Decaturian.” Among the missing is her “righthand woman”, Managing Editor Sydney Sinks. “She’s just dynamite. I consider her to be a better journalist than me, and I have a huge ego,” Pajer said. “She has an interview style that’s almost the opposite of mine, and it’s fascinating. She has the ability to almost shrink herself to make herself the least intimidating person ever. People just open up and tell her anything.” Pajer longs to see the satisfaction on her colleagues’ faces when the Decaturian hits their desks. “Whenever they write a great story, and they get the recognition they deserve, I feel a lot better in that way,” Pajer said. “If every week went that I didn’t have my name in the paper, but everyone else did great work, that would be great. My happier place is when I’m really watching other people grow and do great reporting. I hope I make this clear to writers every day that I care about them.” “Athena is a natural leader, and she’s the kind of leader who’s able to lead by making everyone else feel like they’re important,” Lambert said. As a writer, Pajer can be a bit possessive when it comes to off-campus reporting and the happenings around her hometown. “That’s where I can use my secret stash of knowledge that only Decatur residents know,” she said. So which does she prefer: writing or editing? “I flip-flop every day,” she said. “I as a person am happiest on a team. I’m an extrovert. I’ve tried to build my skill set, where I’m capable of doing a lot of different things.”

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You can call her Tenacious Lee Daily Illini editor uses quarantine to examine her love of journalism By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association CHICAGO – On Feb. 11, The DePaulia published a story summing up the university provost’s refusal to change a clause in the faculty handbook that’s drawn cries of systemic racism, and wrongful discrimination lawsuits. The DePaul University student newspaper’s adviser, Marla Krause had utmost confidence the report would be comprehensive and fact-checked six ways from Sunday, given that the byline belonged to Ella Lee. For the past few years, Krause has watched her managing editor exhaustively research every piece she’s written, while developing reliable sources and giving all sides ample opportunity to say their piece. “She just loves to dig and dig, and she understands that the story’s not ready when it’s not ready,” Krause said. “She understands you don’t just talk to the lawyer representing the plaintiff.

Even though you might feel some sympathy toward the plaintiff, you have to get both sides of the story.” The DePaulia has been reporting on lawsuits filed against the university over the past couple of years. The clause's vague language states “a pattern of extreme intimidation and aggression towards other members of the university committee” can be grounds for faculty dismissal or other repercussions. Two Black, female DePaul professors, requested the clause be changed in February 2019, and in April 2020, the university's Faculty Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution to change the language, but Provost Salma Ghanem shot it down. When the administration put out a statement calling for unity and a self-examination of biases after the murder of George Floyd, then was given the opportunity to change the clause but refused, Lee knew it was time to connect all the dots. “That to me, that statement and what they refused to do is a perfect juxtaposition of what

all of our reporting was leading up to,” said Lee, a 22-year-old senior. “All of these narratives are telling the exact same story that we’ve written five or six times with different names. This is the type of thing I think you can’t say enough. It’s so clearly affecting a lot of people, and it’s being ignored. Anything I can do to bring attention to that lack of care for that issue is something I really want to do.”Proud as Lee was to publish the story, she can’t help but feel concerned when she shines the light on the university’s administration. “I felt very proud, but I’m always a little bit nervous when it’s a story that has potential to make waves,” she said. “There are things I need from the university. Like when I need to apply for aid for the spring semester, are they going to deny me?” Now, if anyone were to question the accuracy of the story, she’d have no concerns. A half-year fact-checking for the USA Today will do that.

See LEE on Page 18

PAJER Continued from Page 16 Beyond writing and editing, Pajer has done a ton of layout, and has also worked with audio and video. “I’m not perfect in all of those things, but I can get quite good at those if I try,” she said. “She wants to learn how to do everything,” Lambert said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a student, or worked with someone as a reporter who wanted to do everything.” “I’ve prepared myself to be able to fit in anywhere, and do whatever a story requires,” Pajer said. “I hope to find friends and people along the way who can join in an existential, overarching, freedom of press mission.”

Truth as an existential crisis Pajer entertained an interview with

the Illinois Press Association in midFebruary, while she was wrapping up layout of a special issue on the Black Lives Matter movement. In covering the civil rights upheaval, Pajer has had to be deliberate about not allowing herself to be consumed by the issues, so that her opinions don’t overtly bleed into her coverage. She’s cognizant that if they do, they could jeopardize her perceived objectivity and, in turn, her reliability in the eyes of readers. “I’ve been battling this, and I think every journalist has, is ‘What is truth anymore?’” Pajer said. “Whenever we get into one side, when can you say, ‘No. Alternative facts don’t exist. That’s literally the opposite of something that exists.’” Whether it’s been while editing Features Editor Jeana Pierson’s piece

on a former Millikin student who vanished during a Black Lives Matter protest in Chicago, or while covering an anti-gun protest in Decatur in March 2018, she’s leaned on facts to tell the story and leave no space for questioning them. She can also use the details of an event to inject her emotions, while not explicitly expressing her opinion. For instance, take her simple, effective lede that makes you feel the chill and the weight of that March for Our Lives protest. “Wind and hail could not stop over a hundred Decatur citizens from marching for peace,” the March 25 story reads. “I kind of hid behind the objectivity in this way: If there was a story that would really pull at my heartstrings, but I knew it was an important story

to tell, I’d get through it by writing the simplest sentence to get the point across,” Pajer said. “I’d look for facts to add to the story to make things more impactful.” Simply acknowledging the wind and the hail, and the people who forged through it for peace, helps what she calls a “very dry piece” cut a little bit, while assuaging any risk of a descent into nihilism. “That’s what’s rescued me from thinking nothing is real,” said Pajer, who recently finished her latest binge of “The West Wing.” “It’s OK to pull a little bit of Aaron Sorkin into this now, to really describe what the scene was like. In the end, part of what I witness is my subjective truth, but I’m still telling the truth. I found that human element that’s in me and other people. That’s what can also


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LEE Continued from Page 17

Baptism by bile

Her campaign kickoff

Shortly after being promoted to managing editor of The DePaulia, Lee began a six-month internship at USA Today in June 2020. She was part of a team that spent its days tracking social media channels. When a claim started being replicated at a high rate, team members got on the phone and didn’t put it down until they determined, without a doubt, whether those claims were true. Those flags you see on Facebook stating a claim is missing context, partly false, or completely false? She and her teammates planted those. And conspiracy theorists were none too happy. “I was working there during the thick of vaccine misinformation and election misinformation,” Lee said. “I think prior to my internship at USA Today, I would have been more nervous about people’s reactions to pieces that stir things up. After having faced some of the abuse that I faced from my fact-checks at USA Today, it doesn’t really feel like anything.” But the scope of their fact-checks was much broader. For instance, when an image of Black doctors working on a Ku Klux Klan member went viral, she made two phone calls and reached a photographer who said it was an advertisement. “This is something that was going out to millions of people every day,” she said. “People don’t grasp the amount of a grasp misinformation has on a very large part of our country. It isn’t just right-wing and left-wing. It’s startling, the amount of misinformation that percolates online.” Doing fact-checks, vetting sources and generally reading horizontally adds more steps, albeit vital ones, to the reporting process. “This shined a light on how much harder journalism is than a lot of people are treating it,” Lee said. “There’s no room in a fact-check. If you have any amount of thinking that you could possibly do wrong, it can’t go in your reporting.”

When Lee saw journalists being attacked leading up to and during the 2016 presidential election, she didn’t just sympathize. She wanted to join the team and help it rally. “You can’t ignore that, seeing journalists being attacked and not understanding why,” Lee said. “That lit a little bit of a fire under me.” She joined her high school newspaper before serving as a staff writer and arts and life editor at The DePaulia. Lee said she got hooked on news, and fast. “It’s a little bit of a drug,” she said. “You can’t get away from it.” Her parents, Kari and Matt Lee, are professional classical musicians. So watching them persevere as the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated their livelihoods has prepared her for the gig economy. “Having two classical trumpet players as parents has prepared me,” Lee said. “I don’t want to quit journalism just because I can’t get a job.” That comes as a relief for Krause, who dropped the name of celebrated journalist Maggie Haberman when asked what sort of professional Lee could be. “She has a tenaciousness,” Krause said. “She isn’t the kind of student journalist who says, ‘I’ve got my three sources. I’m done.’ I could see her doing investigative reporting for major media. I could see her at the Washington Post or The New York Times someday.” But first, Lee and her team have unfinished business. They’ll soon publish a Title IX piece they’ve been building for the past couple of years. She said they’ve given administration ample opportunity to answer their questions, so the university’s leaders have to know the piece is coming. “I can’t express enough how much we would love to sit down with them and get their responses, and this is one they’ll have to respond to,” she said. “We’ve been working on this since we were sophomores. We’ve been calling it our magnum opus.”

Ella Lee, the managing editor at The DePaulia, has impressed adviser of the DePaul University student newspaper, Marla Krause. “She has a tenaciousness,” Krause said. “She isn’t the kind of student journalist who says, ‘I’ve got my three sources. I’m done.’ I could see her doing investigative reporting for major media. I could see her at the Washington Post or The New York Times someday. She has that kind of ability, and she’s not the only one of my students I’d say that about.”


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MADE IN ILLINOIS

Sam Boyle knows she’s in her place Daily Illini editor uses quarantine to examine her love of journalism felt appreciated and supported. “She’s kind of the unsung hero of everything we do at The Daily Illini,” News Editor Ethan Simmons said.

By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois senior Sam Boyle knows the value of putting a reporter into proverbial quarantine when they need to focus on investigations, rather than getting bogged down with the relentless daily grind of putting out a paper. Little did she know that while in literal quarantine, she’d end up investigating her own passions, and her future. “You spend so much time focusing on other people, and then suddenly you’re alone,” she said. “I just started picking apart why I started journalism, and why I like it.” Boyle had been dead-set on working in a traditional newsroom for several years. Now, as she gets ready to spring directly off graduation in May into grad school in Champaign, she’s curious about archive library science. “We have so much access to information, and there’s somebody behind that information. It wasn’t until I was forced to literally sit alone in my room that I just started thinking about that, and knowing that’s a route I can take,” Boyle said. “I have no idea where it’s going to go, but I definitely want to find a way to bring it back to journalism somehow.” Her heart belongs to journalism, even though it’s nearly brought her to her knees. She confirms it did, in fact, bring her to the ladies’ room. The pressures of her responsibilities as news editor of The Daily Illini, coupled with intense coursework, came to a head in late fall of 2019. “If I could define stress with one point in my life, it was that time,” she said. “I didn’t sleep much. I

‘I can do that in 10 minutes. I do it happily.’

Sam Boyle, managing editor for reporting at the Daily Illini, is shown in the student broadcast studio used for UI7. (Photo provided) was always on my phone and on my laptop, checking the news and emails. I cried a lot - in the office, too. I’d need 10 minutes to go in the bathroom and cry, like once a day. It felt like I had a to-do list and I could never check everything off. I remember feeling like I almost quit.

But I don’t like to quit. I’ve been like that my whole life. Even if I hate a book, I’ll finish it.” When she was promoted to managing editor of reporting in March 2020, just as COVID-19’s grip closed around the world, she made it a point to make sure her staff always

Early in the fall semester of 2019, Simmons braced after making his case for keeping two U of I students anonymous in his story on their role in protesting Hong Kong extradition laws. “I was really scared the story was going to be over, and it wasn’t going to happen at all,” he said. Boyle fully agreed the students could face retribution from the Chinese government if identified. And she drove that point home during one of her signature live table reads of the story to her staff, after it was published. “I always knew there would be a live table read from Sam Boyle,” Simmons said. “She was so good at coordinating that little team. That’s been a challenge for me this year.” So she picks up the slack – slack Simmons sometimes doesn’t even know about until the paper comes out. Stressful as it was, Simmons said he was able to dedicate about 10 hours to the Hong Kong protest piece the week it ran. Usually he’s inundated reporting on COVID-19 data and trends. “I remember I was stressed out that entire week,” he said. Boyle, sensing it, grabbed up work that would have otherwise fallen on his plate. “Sometimes I wouldn’t even ask her,” he said. “She’s already doing it. A lot of that behind-the-scenes work was happening, but what was good

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BOYLE Continued from Page 20 about it was I didn’t even recognize it.” Boyle admits she wishes someone had sensed when she was drowning in work. “One of the best things is when I know there’s going to be a struggle, I pride myself on not asking what they need me to do. I tell them to give me something to do. Or I just do it,” she said. “So if it’s making a phone call, writing briefs, the quick, 200-word stories that need to get done, I can do that in 10 minutes. I do it happily.” Her rewards are her staff’s mental health, and the excellent content they produce. “It’s like the best feeling, especially now with everything we have to cover,” Boyle said. “My name isn’t on any pieces, but being able to see someone else’s name on that kind of work, it’s the most rewarding to be on the other side.”

Court records, nightmares and the national spotlight While other students were knocking out internships in the summer of 2019, Boyle was getting invaluable on-the-job experience while covering a murder trial for The

Daily Illini. Yingying Zhang was a 26-year-old U of I agriculture researcher when Champaign resident and former grad student Brendt Allen Christensen abducted and murdered her. Boyle covered the harrowing proceedings daily and filed broader and more in-depth pieces weekly. She was exhilarated by the opportunity to cover such a highprofile case. Never having read a court record, let alone the legalese in a prosecutor’s motion, she picked the brains of her fellow reporters. “I felt really blinded by it all,” Boyle said. “It was so hard at first to understand, but I’d lean over and just ask questions in the media room. I owe everything to the other journalists who were there.” She made it abundantly clear she was with The Daily Illini, which paid a huge dividend after the verdict came down. A courtroom employee approached her and told her a juror wanted to speak with a reporter – but only if that reporter worked for The Daily Illini. When the juror requested anonymity, she swallowed hard. Just weeks before Simmons would make his case to keep the protesters

N-G pair honored among nation's best CHAMPAIGN – Sports Editor Matt Daniels and multimedia specialist Anthony Zilis brought home national awards for the News-Gazette in Champaign in the 2020 Associated Press Sports Editors contest. Daniels finished in the Top 10 category of game story for his coverage of Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin boys' basketball winning a Class 2A regional title in February 2020. Zilis was honored with a Top 10 finish for his video from the Illinois football team's home opener against Purdue on Halloween. The N­G Sports section – which also

received honorable mention in the digital contest ­– competes against publications such as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune and others. Sunday, daily and special section judging will take place later in the month of March. As sports editor, Daniels has guided a section that continues to be nationally recognized. In APSE judging, the N-G has been selected as a Top 10 section for 10 consecutive years. The ranking of the Top 10 in the writing and multimedia categories will be announced in the coming weeks.

anonymous, Boyle had to pitch her editor, Hannah Preston. Preston ruled in her favor, and Boyle spent hours interviewing the juror at the library across the street from the courthouse. She went into it anticipating he’d be guarded. Instead, he gushed. “It wasn’t as difficult as I may have thought,” she said. Her reporting caught the attention of ABC, which interviewed her for an episode of 20/20, which aired in November 2019. “I blasted it everywhere,” Boyle said. While she was reporting relentlessly on the trial, it was lather, rinse repeat. Boyle would spend the day in the courtroom, hurry home, write, file, sleep, and get up and do it all again. The gruesome details that played out in the trial didn’t stay in the courthouse. “I would get home and have nightmares about it,” Boyle said. “We

were face-to-face with the guy. It did affect my mental health. But I didn’t realize it until after the verdict.” She’s had numerous opportunities to leave journalism. During the civil rights upheaval, she wrestled with the fact that she wasn’t allowed to participate in protests. “I had a moment where I felt like I couldn’t even express myself, and I’m thinking, ‘Why am I doing journalism?’ ” she said. She has countless answers to that. Simmons and all the other colleagues with whom she’s fought in the trenches. Future journalists who need a compassionate, empathetic editor. The innumerable sources whose stories might have gone untold, if not for her. For instance, there’s the full, unabridged story of the murder trial of Yingying. “I don’t know where it’s all going to go, but I don’t want to leave journalism,” she said.


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Daily Illini cyberattack generates 'pure shock' CHAMPAIGN – A malware attack on the servers of the Illini Media Company left the student-run The Daily Illini unable to publish its print edition Feb. 18 and compromised employee information, the newspaper reported Feb. 17. "As you can imagine, we are in emergency mode over here," copublisher Kit Donahue said in a text message the afternoon of Feb. 17 between back-to-back meetings. "I can tell you that it was a ransomware

attack and it happened (the) morning (of Feb. 16). Online coverage is not a problem, and our radio station, WPGU, is still able to broadcast.” She said The Daily Illini was working with its tech team and local law enforcement. “But because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we don't have a lot of information we are able to share at this point," Donahue said. Illini Media Co. is the parent company of The Daily Illini,

WPGU-FM and the Illio yearbook. The newspaper has a daily online presence but for about the past five years has published a print edition only twice a week. It announced the malware attack Feb. 16 on social media, saying that print editions beyond Feb. 18 could be affected as well. The paper also reported that the attack was the second on the company's servers this year and "much larger" than the first in early January, when the paper was

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online only. "Just pure shock," Chris Harlan, interim chair of Illini Media's board, said of their reaction to the attack. A banker whose full-time job is CEO of the UI Community Credit Union, Harlan has had a bank-robbery-holdup metaphor going through his head since learning of the ransomware attack. He confirmed that Illini Media is working with the FBI. With several people from the U of I on the Illini Media board, Harlan said they are getting good advice and trying to come to an agreement with a consultant to resolve the crisis. "I went and looked at the report done of the public health district, and it's oddly very similar," Harlan said. He was referring to a hack on the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District's server in early March, which took some services offline for as long as a week. In late April, Parkland College was similarly victimized. Both Parkland and the health district had insurance that covered most of the nearly $1 million combined cost to rectify their situations. Parkland's premium for a year's worth of that insurance coverage was $27,706, spokesperson Stephanie Stuart said. Both those agencies worked with the FBI because there is not a lot that local law enforcement can do to investigate, said Urbana Police Sgt. Tim McNaught, who has specialized in computer forensic work for a little more than a decade. "We could do a network investigation to figure out if it came in through an email or where it came from. The problem is, it's hard to trace," said McNaught, who's never personally investigated a network malware crime. "It's possible but difficult because these guys are good at hiding themselves. Oftentimes, they're not even in the U.S. They are overseas somewhere."

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Quincy newspaper, TV and radio stations sold QUINCY — The Quincy Herald-Whig and Hannibal Courier-Post have been sold to Phillips Media Group LLC, headquartered in Arkansas. The sale closed with Phillips becoming the new owner on March 1. The announcement was made by Quincy Media Inc. President and CEO Ralph M. Oakley and Phillips Media Group President Jim Holland in a news release Feb. 13. The sale ends the almost 95 years of publishing The Herald-Whig by Quincy Media Inc., which changed its name from Quincy Newspapers Inc. in 2016. QMI purchased the Hannibal Courier-Post in 2019. “The newspaper business is changing dramatically,” Oakley said in the release. “That, along with our decision to leave the media business entirely is the driving force in this decision.”

Quincy Media announced recently the sale of its television and radio stations, including WGEM AM-FM-TV to Gray Television. That sale, subject to federal regulatory approval, is expected to be complete in the second or third quarter of 2021. “While it was certainly a difficult decision for us, we are very pleased to sell these important newspapers to a longtime publisher such as Phillips Media. It is a great outcome for our region and for the employees who will continue on with Phillips,” Oakley said. Ron Wallace, who has served as vice president and publisher of The Herald-Whig and Hannibal Courier-Post since 2013, will continue in that role. “We appreciate the trust that the Oakley and

CYBERATTACK Continued from Page 21 For just more than 10 years, McNaught has been the only investigator in his department with the expertise to do computer forensics. The training and the work are time-consuming, and not all local officers have the disposition or willingness to do such tedious investigatory work, especially for child-exploitation crimes, he noted. Two agents from the "cyber squad" at the FBI's Springfield office agreed to speak generally about the investigation of cyberattacks but declined to be identified. "We usually come in while the attack is occurring," said one, a computer scientist. In a ransomware attack, a virus encrypts all the data on the machine it infects, and hackers then demand a ransom in exchange for unlocking it. Victims typically call for help the minute they get the ransom demand. "We don't do the negotiation. That portion is up to the victim. We do not encourage payment of the ransom," said the FBI agent, who added that fellow agents have seen cases where the ransom was paid and the data

released and cases where the hackers took the money but did not release the data. To minimize the risk of ransomware attacks, the agency recommends: • Backing up data daily, testing your backups and keeping those backups separate from your computer network. Instead of paying ransom, the victim can try to restore network data from the backups. • Using multi-factor authentication. • Updating and patching systems. • Having up¬dated security solutions. • Reviewing and practicing a response plan. Following the attacks on Parkland and the health district last spring, both stressed that no personal information was leaked in either incident, but officials gave few details of what happened. McNaught said it's not uncommon for victims to not want to say much about such breaches because they basically amount to a hit on an agency's reputation, even though they are victims.

Lindsay families have placed in us as the group to continue covering the news and community milestones for the subscribers of The Herald-Whig and Courier-Post,” Phillips Media Group President Jim Holland said in the release. Quincy Media began as Quincy Newspapers Inc. in 1926, with the merger of The Quincy Herald and Quincy Whig-Journal. That merger brought together the Oakley and Lindsay families, whose descendants continue to be involved in ownership, board service or working in the company to this day. “While it is the conclusion of our two families’ involvement, The Herald-Whig and Courier-Post will continue on as important providers of news and community service for the entire region,” Oakley said.


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How the Chicago Tribune handles police booking photos CHICAGO – Colin McMahon, editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune and chief content officer of Tribune Publishing, announced to readers in the Feb. 10 edition a change in how the newspaper handles mug shots of people arrested in crimes who have yet to go on trial. “As part of an ongoing examination of the fairness in how we report on people – a bit of introspection that is both shared across the news media industry and long overdue – we are adopting guidelines aimed at the restrained and consistent use of mug shots with news stories,” McMahon wrote. “Part of this is just plain fairness. A lot of people who are arrested will end up not being convicted. Some

will be found not guilty or won't go to trial at all. Some will plead guilty to lesser charges, even misdemeanors, instead of the ones that put their names in the Colin McMahon news.” McMahon said that readers might associate law enforcement booking photos with criminal activity, meaning their publication might imply guilt of individuals who are, by law, considered innocent until proven guilty. “This is particularly critical as we examine how our journalism might reinforce racial stereotypes and amount to punitive coverage of

people who enter the criminal justice system – the majority of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds,” he wrote. He said the Tribune’s new guidelines have been developed over the past year and prioritize safety, news judgment and compassionate coverage, and acknowledge inconsistencies in the criminal justice system that affect which mug shots are released and published online. McMahon said readers will still see mug shots, but far fewer. “We will still publish mug shots when we believe it serves a public safety purpose, such as potentially helping crime victims come forward,” he wrote. “We will still publish mug shots in cases of high news value; for example, if the person is a public figure, such as an elected official, or when a crime is especially high-

profile. “Even then, however, our use of the mug shot should be considered and restrained.” McMahon said mug shots online from older stories are being removed, though many still remain. “We will remove many of them as we come upon them, but at the moment, we have no technical fix to clear them all,” McMahon wrote, urging readers to send links when they see a mug shot they think should be removed so it can be assessed by editors. “This decision has not been taken lightly, nor has it been made in a vacuum,” McMahon wrote. “We are looking at mug shots as we look at all our coverage. Our goal is to be as judicious, thoughtful and intentional as we can be about the journalism we publish and the stories we tell about Chicagoland.”

Hedge fund buying Chicago Tribune for $630M CHICAGO – Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund known for bleeding newspapers dry, has reached an agreement to buy the parent company of the Chicago Tribune in a deal valued at $630 million. Chicago-based Tribune Publishing announced Feb. 16 that it has accepted Alden's bid to acquire the 68 percent of company shares it does not already own. Pending approval from shareholders and regulatory approval, the sale is expected to close in the second quarter. In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the deal includes the New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, South Florida's Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel, Virginia's Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot, and The Morning Call

of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. The Baltimore Sun will be sold to Sunlight for All Institute, a public charity. In a statement released by Tribune Publishing, board Chairman Philip G. Franklin said: "Over the past year, the company has taken a number of actions to adapt to an ever-changing business and industry environment, including the impact of COVI-19. These actions included strengthening the company's financial position, driving digital growth and investing in high-quality content to better serve customers, employees and communities. This positioning enabled the special committee to negotiate a premium, all-cash price, which the committee concluded was superior to the available alternatives."


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AROUND THE STATE

Calhoun High students receive yearbook recognition CALHOUN – The Calhoun High School 2019 yearbook received recognition from the Illinois Journalism Education Association in six categories during the organization’s 2020 competition. Calhoun placed in copywriting, sports coverage, divider pages, layout and design, theme development and coverage of the year, and the coveted overall general excellence. The design of the yearbook was under consideration by Alyssa LeMarsh for a year and ultimately took the form of a letterman's jacket. Both the front and back cover were designed to look like the respective sides of the classic high school outerwear.

Campbell Publications sells Pike Press building PITTSFIELD – The sale of the Pike Press building at 115 E. Jefferson St. to the First Christian Church was made official the week of Feb. 1. Pike Press employees vacated the building in January, although the staff had been working from home since

last spring when the pandemic hit. Michael Ten Eyck, minister at First Christian Church, said the building will undergo an extensive renovation process prior to housing the church offices and meeting areas. The Pike Press continues to be the oldest newspaper in Pike County, a direct descendent of several newspapers throughout the years. It has been at the Jefferson Street address since the early 1970s.

Cass County Star-Gazette makes changes to print edition BEARDSTOWN – Starting in the March 4 edition, several changes went effect in the print edition of the Cass County Star-Gazette. The paper is eliminating its opinion/ columnists page, although it will still print letters to the editor. Columnists' work will now appear on different pages instead of on one cohesive page. Future papers will also include fewer color photos and color ads to help keep costs in check. The changes will limit the reporting of local governmental meetings, features articles and sports coverage that readers may have grown accustomed to receiving.

The changes are fallout from revenue declines exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A year ago, the paper was eight to 12 pages per edition, and readers can now expect slimmer editions on average.

Republic-Times absorbs Madison County Independent COLUMBIA – The Monroe County Independent announced Feb. 17 that it had been sold and turned over to the Republic-Times, ceasing its publication after 20 years. The Republic-Times has covered Monroe County and surrounding areas since 1890. Subscriptions for Independent readers who do not subscribe to the Republic-Times are being honored, beginning in March. Those who subscribe to both the Republic-Times and Independent are eligible to also receive unlimited website access to republictimes.net, as well as the digital edition for the duration of their existing Independent subscription. The Republic-Times is a successor to Monroe County's first newspapers the Independent Democrat (1843), War Eagle (1845), The Patriot (1852) and Waterloo Advocate (1858).

Pantagraph parent hosts Anywhere Career Fair BLOOMINGTON – Lee Enterprises, parent company of The Pantagraph and owner of 76 daily news organizations across the country, hosted a nationwide virtual career fair Feb. 28-March 7. More than 380 companies from at least 20 states, 21 of them Central Illinois employers, participated in the Anywhere Career Fair. With the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult to have traditional in-person career fairs, this virtual event let employers meet candidates locally and from across the country safely and effectively. "One of the key economic drivers of recovering from the pandemic is helping businesses find qualified employees," said Dan Adams, president and director of Central Illinois Media Group, which includes The Pantagraph. "Our Anywhere Career Fair offers businesses a dynamic platform to reach a wide audience of candidates safely and effectively and it offers job seekers access to a variety of potential employers."

Register-Mail begins offering 'subscriber-only ' stories By TOM MARTIN Editor, The Register-Mail GALESBURG – Readers of galesburg.com will begin seeing local stories marked "subscriberonly." The Register-Mail has used a metered paywall for years and will continue to keep that in place. The meter requires people to subscribe after viewing a certain number of stories each month. Now we will begin marking certain stories as "subscriber-only," meaning readers who don't subscribe will not have access to the story. We will use the "subscriber-only" on our best journalism, local stories you won't find elsewhere. In association with this effort, the newsroom will sharpen its focus on telling the most important

Tom Martin

and engaging stories in the community. We understand there is a reluctance on the part of some readers to pay for news. There was a period in which all news at galesburg. com was free. In fact, the newspaper industry had believed giving the news away to get page views was the best approach to capture online

advertising. But that business model has not proven sufficient. Over the past 10 years especially, the newspaper business has shrunk due to declining revenue caused by online competitors gaining local advertising. As revenues decreased so did the size of

newsroom staffing all across the country, but especially in rural areas such as ours. We need digital readers to support us financially as well. Many already do. Those subscribing to The Register-Mail in print also get unlimited digital access (that includes the e-edition). Beyond that, we have a growing number of readers who have digital subscriptions. Both print and digital subscribers will have access to subscriber-only stories. Other readers, however, will not be able to read those stories without subscribing. The cost of a digital subscription is $1 for 3 months and $7.99 per month after that. Or, you can get a whole year for $49. Thanks to all those who subscribe. We appreciate your commitment to local journalism.


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TV show 'One Deadly Mistake' features Decatur murder case Editor’s Note: This story initially was published Feb. 19 in the Herald & Review. DECATUR – As editor of the Decatur Herald & Review, George Althoff had covered many crime stories, but never one like the murder of 23-year-old Karyn Hearn Slover. "This one was different," he said. "She was one of our own." Slover was a Herald & Review advertising representative, and Althoff faced the challenge of directing coverage of a murder victim known and adored by everyone in the newsroom. His recollections about the case were part of an episode of Oxygen's "One Deadly Mistake," which aired Feb. 20. "In all my years in the newspapers business, this ranks as the most

difficult story I've ever covered," said Althoff, who returned to Decatur in August to film segments for the TV special. Footage taped at the time showed Althoff walking down the steps from the newspaper front doors to the parking lot; that was the route Slover took on the evening of Sept. 27, 1996, the last time her friends saw her. She was going to pick up her then 3-year-old son, Kolten, who was being looked after at the home of Michael Slover Sr. and Jeannette Slover, the parents of her former husband, Michael Slover Jr. Her dismembered body was found dumped in garbage bags two days later in Lake Shelbyville. She had been killed by being shot seven times in the head.

After a lengthy police investigation, her former husband and his parents were charged with her death and convicted in May 2002. Michael Slover Sr. and Michael Slover Jr. were both sentenced to 65 years in prison, while Jeannette Slover received a 60year sentence. The convicted Slover family members continue to maintain their innocence. Although Karyn Slover worked in advertising, Althoff said most of the newspaper's employees knew each other thanks to an open office that encouraged people to mingle between departments. He said she had signed with a modeling agency shortly before her disappearance and was excited about the opportunity and how it could lead to a better life for herself and her son. "I knew her professionally," Althoff said. "She was very outgoing." It was Althoff's task to lead a newsroom that was grieving yet still had a monumental story to report. The challenge was compounded by the fact that a Herald & Review employee was one of the initial suspects (he was later cleared).

Despite the personal connections, Althoff said his reporting team handled the story with "a high level of professionalism – excellent, detailed coverage." The story attracted both state and national attention. Althoff said the investigation involved "very intriguing cutting-edge forensics work," including one of the first cases in which police examined dog DNA. The case was still unsolved when Althoff was promoted to his publisher position in Winona, Minnesota, in 1997. He never lost interest in the story and stayed in contact with reporters in Decatur to monitor developments. "There was a time when people thought nobody would be brought to justice," he said. Althoff said local law enforcement never gave up. He credited "great police work" that traced a piece of broken concrete to the killers. He said the return visit to Decatur brought back a lot of memories. "She was a very personable lady," Althoff said. "Everybody in the workplace loved Karyn."

AROUND THE STATE

Medill journalism school celebrates 100th anniversary CHICAGO – The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston has turned 100 years old. Founded with backing from the Chicago Tribune and Publisher Robert R. McCormick, the journalism school was named for Joseph Medill, a former editor of the Tribune and former mayor of Chicago. The school lists more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners among its graduates. Calling it a "monumental

milestone," Medill Dean Charles Whitaker wrote in an open letter Monday: "Since its founding on this day in 1921, Medill has been a beacon of practice, innovation and thought leadership in the fields of journalism, advertising and integrated marketing communications." A centennial website features an interactive timeline of the school's history, a calendar of special events and personal memories of those who passed through Fisk Hall. In 2011, the institution was renamed Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.


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PRESS PEOPLE

Cross named interim editor for The Southern Illinoisan CARBONDALE – A Carbondale native and award-winning investigative journalist is set to become interim top editor of The Southern Illinoisan. Lauren Cross, Midwest projects reporter for Lee Enterprises and a veteran journalist for The Times of Northwest Lauren Cross Indiana, will become interim editor as current Local News Editor Alee Quick departs The Southern for a new post at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Quick's last day at The Southern was March 9. Cross assumed top editor duties for The Southern on March 10. Cross holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University, where she also worked on the Daily Egyptian staff. She holds a master's degree from the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She has worked for Lee Enterprises companies for nearly 5 years and also previously worked as a government reporter at The Herald-News in Joliet and crime beat reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield. Cross lives in Carbondale with her husband and daughter. Her past accomplishments include a national Society of Professional Journalists award for her reporting and exhaustive probe of lead and arsenic contamination in East Chicago, Indiana.

Pana News group editor exits PANA – John Broux announced in a Feb. 3 column that he is leaving the Pana News Group, which publishes three weeklies about 40 miles southeast of Springfield.

Broux said longtime Pana resident Susan McGrath would succeed him as of Feb. 5, and that she, Luke McQuillen and Jake Leonard will be the new team going forward. Pana News Group publishes the Pana News-Palladium, the Golden Prairie News in Assumption and the Free Press-Progress in Nokomis.

manager with the Pana News Group, having been the editor for six publications in that organization. He also comes with experience in ad sales, layout, and circulation.

Leadership change at Vandalia Leader-Union

FREEPORT – After writing more than 500 weekly columns for the Journal-Standard in Freeport, Chuck and Pat Wemstrom had their farewell submission published in

VANDALIA – John Broux of Pana became the new general manager and editor for the Vandalia Leader-Union on Feb. 8. Rich Bauer, who joined the Vandalia LeaderUnion nearly 40 years ago, announced his retirement in a Feb. 4 column. John Broux Bauer ran down a lengthy list of his favorite memories from his time at the LeaderUnion, from chasing prep sports teams at state tournaments to interviewing then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton and Illinois governor-to-be Jim Edgar – along with every other governor who succeeded him. Broux will also serve as the general manager for the Altamont News-Banner. A native of Pana, Broux began his career with the Pana NewsPalladium in 1986, before moving on to more regional assignments at the Taylorville Breeze-Courier, and WXKO-FM radio, in Pana. He returned to the Taylorville newspaper a year later as circulation manager. He entered full newspaper management while at the Aledo Times Record. Broux has served at other newspapers in various capacities in Iowa and the eastern part of Illinois – in the Mattoon and Paris area. He is perhaps best known throughout the Central Illinois area for serving as a district executive for Lincoln Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He comes to Vandalia after serving as the group editor and operations

Longtime Freeport community columnists say farewell

the Feb. 13 edition. According to their last column, the Mount Carroll couple saw their very first printed in the Feb. 19, 2010, edition, and they haven’t missed a week since. The liberal-leaning Wemstroms said they tried not to be repetitious as they weighed in on topics both local and national. They thanked their readers, as well as recent retirees Wally Haas, the longtime opinion page editor of the Rockford Register Star, and Mark Baldwin, who was executive editor of both newspapers when he retired at the end of 2020.


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Newspaper carrier overcomes dyslexia to write novel Editor’s Note: This story was originally published Feb. 9 by the Daily Southtown in Tinley Park. CHICAGO – Ed Calkins, 63, has worked nights all his adult life. His career in newspaper distribution began when he was a boy with a bicycle, and Sunday, Feb. 14, was his last day. The previous night, he celebrated publication of a 401-page novel he wrote. He welcomed guests and chatted online with visitors during a virtual book release party. For the past several years, Calkins has worked out of a distribution center in Tinley Park. While most people sleep, he stuffs newspapers into plastic bags. Then he loads hundreds of bags into a vehicle. "I've been in newspapers all my life," he said. "As a driver, it's been 43 years." He had regular routes covering Justice and Willow Springs, where he lives. He filled in covering other routes in Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Bridgeview and throughout the south suburbs, he said. "I'm in several ZIP codes at the moment," Calkins said. "I'm not so much a carrier as a down routes driver. I do the routes we can't fill." His maternal grandfather was a distribution manager for the Southtown Economist, a predecessor of The Daily Southtown. The publication traces its roots to 1906. Radio, television and other media gradually eroded the influence of newspapers. 'Way back when, there were distributors that had contracts for papers. They would buy them and distribute them," Calkins said. "They were called news agencies. When newspaper boys delivered papers on bicycles, my dad had an agency." About 15 years ago, Calkins said, he was delivering a Joliet newspaper and got to know Denise Baran-Unland, another carrier who handled several routes with other members of her family. Baran-Unland also is an author who wrote a trilogy of novels about vampires collectively known as the Bryony series. Calkins said their friendship inspired

Retiring newspaper carrier Ed Calkins, 63, of Willow Springs, applied his lifelong experience working overnights to write a vampire-themed novel, "Ruthless." (Photo by Ed Calkins) Baran-Unland to create a character named Ed Calkins, who appears in her novels as a sort of comic relief amid a dark realm. "Somebody told her they would like to see the back story of my character," Calkins said. "She replied, 'The only way that's going to happen is if he writes it himself.' I took up that challenge." The result is "Ruthless", a 140,000-word novel available for sale in paperback through Amazon. Calkins said he overcame dyslexia to write the book. "This has been a lifetime dream of mine," he said. "I've tried to write novels many times. I never finished. I never felt it was worth reading." That is, until now. Calkins said he's happy with how "Ruthless" turned out, and that his writing process involved dictating a story passage and recording it on his phone.

He would then transcribe the recording and use a computer's spell check to figure out words he was unsure about. His wife, Nancy, was featured in a front-page Daily Southtown story in 2014 when she retired after teaching art for 40 years at Brodnicki School in Justice. She created the book cover and 26 other illustrations for the novel. About 15 years ago, she said, her husband was about two-thirds of the way through writing a book. There was only one copy of the working draft. "He never backed it up, and the computer went down and he lost everything," she said. Calkins said he worked on the book every day for about 18 months. Perseverance was key, he said. "I think the primary thing is to make sure the butt hits the chair," he said. "Your inspiration might not show up, but

you have to show up and still be satisfied even if you're not able to produce anything you're going to use. You just have to come back the next day and basically keep at it." Calkins said "Ruthless" is about his vampire character, also named Ed Calkins. "I get killed on my route," he said. "There's an auxiliary police officer who is pretty sure she knows who did it because she remembers pointing the gun and pulling the trigger, but what she doesn't remember is why." As one would expect in a story about vampires, there are supernatural elements to the story. In "Ruthless", the dying newspaper carrier turns into a vampire and has 7 seconds to create a son before he bleeds to death. The story involves mirrors, time travel, the imagination and questions about existence, Calkins said. A promo for the book release event said Calkins would discuss collaborations, how to fictionalize a real person and astrophysics. "It's interesting when you think about, How do you be a fictional character and a real person at the same time?" he said. "In the book, I get to deal with beings who aren't so sure they exist. They think they might be a figment of somebody else's imagination." That sounds reminiscent of the 2006 film "Stranger Than Fiction", in which an IRS auditor played by Will Ferrell turns out to be a character in a novel being written by an author played by Emma Thompson. Nancy Calkins said her husband drew from real-life experience to create a fantasy world inhabited by vampires and time travelers. "A lot of the stories were related to people that came in and out of his life through newspapers, the other drivers," she said. "He would come home and talk about other newspaper carriers. He was very proud of the people he worked with and what they did."


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Durand writer publishes memoir DURAND – After 40 years of writing exclusively for newspapers and magazines, Durand author Lolita Ditzler has published her first book. The book is a nonfiction memoir titled “The View from a Midwest Ferris Wheel: A Memoir.” It traces her seven-year courtship with her husband, Ken, which began on a Ferris wheel ride in July 1952. Ditzler said she began thinking about the memoir when the couple were celebrating their Golden Anniversary in April 2009. "It made me think back to our beginning: a ride on the Ferris wheel in July 1952, when Ken was 16 and I was 14," Ditzler said. Ditzler added that she noticed much had been written about the ‘40s with World War II going on as well as the wildness of the ‘60s, but very little about the ‘50s. Besides her own recollection of events, Ditzler consulted her late mother's diaries. "Her daily, barebones jottings of who, what, when and where provided a guideline," Ditzler said. "I checked details by reading old newspapers at the Rockford library, the Beloit library and the Durand Historical Society." "Some people who are familiar with the area during that era may remember things differently than I do. That's to be expected," Ditzler added. The book should appeal to anyone who remembers the Durand

community during the '50s or is interested in area history. You can take a trip to the past by reading her book. To learn to write creative nonfiction, a genre that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives, Ditzler made the easy one-hour drive north to attend classes and workshops conducted by the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin. She also joined two writers' groups that would each meet once a month. Every second Wednesday evening, 10 to 15 members of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Area Writers, affiliated with the Wisconsin Area Writers Association, would gather at the

library from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Each writer would read their work aloud and receive helpful critiques. While the others wrote fiction, Ditzler shared her memoir. "I broke into 10-minute sections, as it needed to be similar to a novel." Ditzler said. She would also travel to afternoon meetings at the Cherry Valley library on the second Saturday of each month. In Print, affiliated with the Chicago Writers Association, hosted the meetings that often featured guest speakers. Ditzler began her writing career in 1969 once all three of the couple's children were school age. "I started looking for a part-time job,” she said. “I was intrigued by the Rockford Morning Star's ad for a freelance journalist in the Durand area.” The area daily newspaper required no training or experience, so Ditzler set to work chasing fire trucks, writing feature stories about local people doing interesting things, and reporting on civic meetings. Of her coverage, Ditzler said she felt her calling: "I took the public's right to know to heart and enjoyed sticking my nose in where it wasn't always wanted." Ditzler worked for the newspaper until, after 13 years, the newspaper dropped its part-timers. Ditzler then began writing query

letters to various national police, farmer's and women's magazines and had some of her articles accepted. Over the years, she attended area conferences and workshops, subscribed to publications and joined the Illinois Woman's Press Association, which is affiliated with the National Federation of Press Women. "I've driven to Chicago to attend IWPA meetings and flew to several NFPW annual conferences held in various cities." Ditzler said of her efforts. Ditzler's published work has received numerous awards from the two professional organizations. Most recently, she began a blog aimed toward older women. Every Wednesday, she posts to lolita¬s¬bigtoe.com. "I chose the name because I'm constantly testing the sea of change," she said. When Ditzler dipped her toe in the publishing world, she found a willing partner in Adelaide Books, an independent firm out of New York that had published some of her friends' works. Adelaide accepted her book proposal in December 2019, and Ditzler spent the past year finetuning her memoir, the culmination of about 10 years of writing and rewriting. Ditzler's memoir is available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

PRESS PEOPLE

Former Nashville News editor named community center director NASHVILLE – Alex Haglund took over as the director of the Community Center in Nashville just after the new year began. Haglund is originally from the Chicago area and attended Southern Illinois University, where he

earned a degree in journalism. He worked for the student newspaper, the Daily Egyptian, and after moving to Flora in southern Illinois he worked for Clay County Advocate Press. Later, he moved to Nashville and became editor of the Nashville News for several years, up until 2018.

Restaurant beat writer leaves Trib CHICAGO – The Chicago restaurant beat took another hit with news that Joe Gray is leaving after 25 years as food and dining editor of the Chicago Tribune. Gray's last day was Feb. 19. His departure follows that of Phil Vettel, who accepted a buyout after 31 years as Tribune dining critic.


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Delhaye remembered as ‘second mom,’ friend and newspaper leader Longtime central Illinois journalist dies of COVID-19 By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN For Illinois Press Association GEORGETOWN – Garry Kasparov has nothing on the late, great Vicki Delhaye. Whereas the former suffered what was considered an upset at the time, losing a chess match in 1997 to the computer Deep Blue, in the 1980s, Delhaye would type so fast the compugraphic computers at The Independent News couldn’t keep up. “That thing would start humming, and she’d have to let it catch up or it would quit on her,” said Doyne Lenhart, who owned the paper until he sold it to the Champaign News-Gazette in 2007. “She’s the fastest typist I’ve ever seen.” The new owners let Delhaye go – not once, but twice, against Lenhart’s objections. “I said, ‘You’re dumber than a box of rocks if you let this girl go,’ ” he said. She left The Independent News in 2014 and worked part-time for Sidell Reporter owner Rinda Maddox the last 6 years of her life. She typed up the scripts, for between 400 and 800 lots per week, for Lenhart’s auction business, right up until she contracted COVID-19 in October. While Delhaye’s immense value was never lost on Doyne’s wife, Marcia Lenhart, it was crystal clear the first time she proofed auction scripts typed up by someone not named Vicki Delhaye. “They’d make so many mistakes,” she said. “I looked up in heaven and said, ‘Vicki, we miss you.’” The fastest, most accurate typist, and sweetest newspaper woman to ever push pages in rural Champaign succumbed to the coronavirus Jan. 11, 2021.

‘She was like my second mom’ When Delhaye began to suspect no one was going to throw a baby shower for her longtime coworker, Katie Marrow, she rallied everyone in The Independent News office and surprised her with one. After she instituted a swear jar, which Marrow admits she “definitely filled up,” Delhaye used the money to throw a party.

For many years, they were a well-oiled machine. “It was the two of us doing everything,” Marrow said. “She knew what I was doing, and I knew what she was doing.” When Delhaye was part of a wave of cuts about 10 years ago, Marrow wasn’t having it. Seeing she was miserable as the new editor and a team of one, management asked what would make things better. “I told them I needed Vicki back,” Marrow said. Delhaye returned part-time, to build ads, which was her expertise. “But she just knew what she was doing in every aspect,” Marrow said. “She was a very elegant writer. I was never as good of a writer as she was,” Maddox marvels at Delhaye’s commitment to the Georgetown community, that she’d keep working for the newspaper group that cut her a year before she became eligible for Medicare. "She loved that paper and didn't want to walk away from it," Maddox said. "It was my lucky day when she walked in.” That wasn’t immediately apparent, though.

‘She was probably in tears’

Vicki Delhaye, shown working at the Sidell Reporter, died Jan. 11, 2021, from complications with COVID-19. “She would find ways to stretch money, to make somebody’s birthday better,” Marrow said. “She always tried to make you feel special.” Marrow joined the paper at age 18. “I walked in there not knowing anything, and she pulled up a chair and sat next to me, and welcomed me right in,” Marrow said. “Vicki kept me in line. She was like my second mom.”

Delhaye had run The Independent News for about 30 years, ever since the Lenharts bought the paper in 1981. “She just ran it like it was hers,” Doyne Lenhart said. “She was superb. I never had to give her any directions to do anything. I mean, she grew up with it.” “Just an incredible person, an incredible employee who kept everything running smoothly,” Doyne’s son, Kerry Lenhart, said. With those sorts of chops, even Delhaye’s sweet demeanor couldn’t stop Maddox from getting her dander up. "My first thought was, I have been here in my office more than 30 years,” she said. “There's no way two old newspaper ladies are going to be able to work together after both had called all the shots for 30 years."

See DELHAYE on Page 34


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Longtime Freeport journalist dies at 94 Former colleagues and the community remember Olga Gize Carlile FREEPORT – Olga Gize Carlile's name is synonymous with being the biggest cheerleader for the community of Freeport. For nearly 60 years, she simply was The Journal-Standard, with a career that was filled with numerous awards from The Associated Press, the Woman’s Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. Carlile, 94, died Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, of complications from COVID-19, leaving a legacy of deeply caring for the community of Freeport, and The Journal-Standard, a job she loved until the day she retired. She remained an icon of The Journal-Standard, having started her career on the copy desk, only to advance to become a woman’s editor, food editor, society editor, assistant managing editor and features editor. Her column “Around the Table” was a daily staple for many readers. She also volunteered her time at The Salvation Army, serving on the advisory board, and was a member of a local group called The Shakespeare Society. She served on the Highland Community College Foundation board for nearly 20 years. She came to Freeport following graduation from Indiana University, married her husband, Bob, and raised her sons, Brad and Byron, in her adopted community that had her telling the stories of many, promoting their events, and writing articles to help keep the money flowing to local nonprofits. Brad Carlile spoke lovingly of his mother, talking about the many travels his parents took their sons on over the years. He spoke of her positive nature, instilling this in her sons. “Growing up she taught me the importance of positive thinking, supporting others, and finding the good in everyone,” Brad said. “This was her baseline personality. She and

Olga Carlile of Freeport was a journalist at The Journal-Standard for more than 60 years, serving as society editor, food editor, features writer and columnist. (Credit: Jane Lethlean of The Journal-Standard) dad took Byron and me everywhere. She instilled a love of travel and often spoke of how wonderful people were all over the world. That is just another piece of her.” “Working as a reporter was always a dream for me, but my mother wanted me to be a teacher, but it is God who led words to flow from my fingers," Carlile said in a 2017 interview. "Working as a journalist were the golden years of my life. We were always a family at the newspaper, and the well never ran dry.” She began her pursuit of journalism as a young teen, writing her own

version of a newspaper in Indiana. After she filled her newspaper with stories, she delivered it to neighbors where she grew up. She once said she covered the news for her friends, even leaving room for cartoons. She did her research at her local library. “I saw journalists as the people who knew what was going on in their community and their job to keep people informed,” Carlile said in 2017. “It made my life, and the awards validated my career.” The news of Carlile’s death reverberated through the community. Words of love and respect flowed on social media sites. Friends recounted

a “treasured friendship.” Roger and Jane Goodspeed, who spent time with Carlile and her family, spoke of vacations taken, making apple butter and remembering good times at Carlile’s annual wassail parties that had hundreds stopping by at intervals at her home to enjoy homemade cookies and wassail each December. “Olga always wore a necklace that read ‘Live, Love, Laugh,’ and that was Olga,” Jane Goodspeed said. “It was her motto at living life. We had a treasured friendship, and she just exuded joy.”

See CARLILE on Page 31


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OBITS

Adeline Barclay TEUTOPOLIS – Adeline Barclay, 98, of Teutopolis, died Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at her home. Adeline was born Sept. 14, 1922, in Teutopolis, the eighth of nine children born to Ben and Anna (Nuxoll) Esker. She married Charles V. "Chuck" Weber on Oct. 12, 1942. They were blessed with five children. Chuck died in 1976. She then married William 0. "Bill" Barclay in 1980, and he died in 2005. Adeline enjoyed her family, friends and neighbors. She was an avid card player. Adeline loved to cook and bake. Her sugar cookies were the favorite of the family. She also loved to go out dancing, which is how she met her second husband. Adeline worked for many years as editor of the Teutopolis Press. Adeline is survived by her sons,

Rockney (Nila) Weber of Effingham, Mark (Pauline) Weber of Teutopolis, and Jeff (Kathe) Weber of Alton; daughter, Karen Weber Caravella of Teutopolis, Adeline Barclay daughter-in-law, Nancy Weber of Teutopolis; 16 grandchildren and 26 greatgrandchildren; her brother, Harold "Butch" Esker, and sisters-in-law, Dolores Esker, Norma Weber and Dorothy "Mickey" Weber. Adeline was preceded in death by her parents: son, Melvin: brothers, Norbert, Victor, Arthur "Speed" Leroy and Joseph "JB"; sisters, Alberta Lewis and Josephine Esker. Adeline donated her body to medical science. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Effingham DeColores, Catholic Charities, Sr. Ethelbert Center or to the donor's

choice. Online condolences may be expressed at www.bauerfh.com.

QUINCY – Holly Ann Wagner, 66, of Quincy, died at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Blessing Hospital. Holly was born April 11, 1954, in Oak Park, the daughter of Clifford and Dorothy Kokta Martin. She married Gerard Wagner on Dec. 27, 1975, in Carpentersville. He survives. Holly received her bachelor's degree in English in 1975 from the University of Illinois. She had been employed by The Quincy Herald-Whig as a reporter and as an editor for more than 35 years. In her spare time, Holly enjoyed weaving and traveling. In addition to her husband, Gerry, survivors include three children, Paul (Colleen) Wagner of Saint

Louis, Martin (Zuzana) Wagner of Prague, Czech Republic, and Dave (Kaitlyn Sullivan) Wagner of Colorado Springs, Colorado; two grandchildren, Clifford Jack Ehresman and Anna Wagner; seven siblings, Chris (Sue) Martin of Pekin, Scott Martin of Sarasota, Florida, Gary (Rita) Martin of Quincy, Dale (Bobbi) Martin of Elgin, Ron (Jodi) Martin of Elgin, Brian Martin of Houston, and Mary (David) Mediema of Clearwater, Florida; and numerous nieces and nephews. Holly was preceded in death by her father, Clifford Martin, mother, Dorothy Kokta, and a sister, Julie Williams. Memorial donations may be made online at https://memorials. hansenspear.com.

Freeport’s social community when I was there, and she went out of her way to welcome me and help me stick my toes in the water. She was a well-loved cheerleader, community supporter and legend. She goes with grace.” Harriett Gustason, a friend and co-worker, said, “Olga was Mrs. Personality and had such enthusiasm for her writing. She loved society, and it was fun to work with her. Her positive outlook was infectious. Her life was a storybook, and one of the most unique people I ever worked with, and she was my friend.” Carlile was a five-time winner of the Illinois Woman's Press Association Writer of the Year award. She was honored as IWPA's Woman of Achievement in 1981. In 1992, the National Federation of Press Women awarded her Communicator of Achievement, which is an honor bestowed upon those members who have

distinguished themselves within and beyond their profession. In 2007, she was named Illinois Journalist of the Year. Carlile served as president of the IWPA from 1981 to 1983. She held many offices in IWPA and served 8 years on the NFPW Education Fund board. She also served on a wide variety of community and charitable organizations in many capacities. Of noted distinction, both Olga and Bob independently received the Community Award from the Freeport Chamber of Commerce for their commitment to the community. Carlile is survived by her sons, Brad (Andrea) in Portland, Oregon; Byron (Sandy) of Poulsbo, Washington, and grandchildren Stephen and Khrystine Carlile. She is proceeded in death by her beloved husband, Bob. Services are pending at Burke-Tubbs Funeral Home, with a celebration of life to be held at a later date.

Holly Ann Wagner

CARLILE Continued from Page 30 John Plevka, who was Carlile’s editor in the late 1980s and 90s, remembers spirited disagreements over content. He remembers how deeply she cared for the community of Freeport, making sure their stories were told. “To say that Olga was tenacious doesn’t even come close,” Plevka said. “When I arrived at The JournalStandard in 1989, it quickly became apparent that Olga and I would tussle — and tussle we did, for months … even years. She was rock-hard stubborn on many matters. But it didn’t take long to realize that the rock-hard stubborn lady from Indiana was also a rock star. And, no matter how many managing editors came and went, Olga was then — and always will be – the face of The Journal-Standard. "If they ever considered chiseling Rushmore-like faces into the steep wall at Krape Park, Olga’s face would need to be on that wall.” Plevka added, “Olga baby, as we

enjoyed calling her, helped make The Journal-Standard an outstanding newspaper — a newspaper that cared deeply about its community. Olga also cared deeply and genuinely about her colleagues at the paper — even those foolish enough to tussle with her.” Gary Quinn, who was the publisher for a time with Carlile, is the man responsible for asking her to write a daily column. Quinn said that Carlile at first resisted, but it is that column that became her signature. “To describe Olga is to take a view from one place and from another point, she became something else,” Quinn said. “She was driven to write, to edit, and she captured people with phrases, descriptions and she could tell stories and it made the person come alive. In a lot of ways, she kept the flame lit in the community. We will not see her kind again.” Greg Bean, former editor, said on social media, “Olga was at the heart of


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Pluta 'cared about the communities he covered,' hailed as mentor WILLOW SPRINGS – A veteran community journalist, James Pluta reported and wrote newspaper stories covering a broad swath of the west, southwest and south suburbs for three decades. "No one knew south and southwest suburban politics better than Jim Pluta," said Yvette Shields, the Midwest regional editor for the Bond Buyer newspaper and a longtime friend. "His genuine friendliness, modesty and curiosity made him a really fine reporter, a loyal friend and the life of any party.'' Pluta, 56, died of sepsis Feb. 6, 2021, at Loyola University Medical Center James Pluta in Maywood, said his brother, Joseph. A Willow Springs resident, Pluta long had battled diabetes and heart disease and had been on dialysis, his brother said. Born James Thomas Mark Pluta in Chicago, Pluta grew up in Justice. He graduated in 1982 from Argo Community High School, where he served on the school's radio station. He attended Moraine Valley Community College and Columbia College. At 18, Pluta began working as a high school football and basketball statistician for Chicago's storied and now-defunct news service, City News Bureau. Pluta ceased that work in 1986 but returned to City News Bureau in 1987, covering Chicago's City Hall, the Cook County Board and courts. "He was kind of a true Chicago character even though he came from the southwest suburbs. He came from a blue-collar background and he really knew how people thought and what was important in people's lives," said John Holden, who worked with Pluta at City News Bureau. "He also had a tremendous sense for how local government works and how the political process intersects with government. He was like an old-school, gumshoe kind of reporter." Former Chicago Sun-Times reporter Abdon Pallasch, a longtime friend who is now director of communications for the Illinois State Comptroller's office, worked at City News Bureau in 1987, when Pluta rejoined the wire service. "He was just larger than life, and was a gentle giant," Pallasch said. "His mild-mannered demeanor was inversely proportional to his size. He was like 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds and was just the nicest guy.

James Pluta during one of his several journalism jobs over the years. (James Pluta) It was why he was such a good reporter. He could get people to open up and talk to him because he was nonthreatening. He was a great conversationalist." Outside of work, Pluta was an avid Chicago Cubs fan, collected vintage postcards, and he enjoyed volunteering at Brookfield Zoo and serving on advisory committees affiliated with the Amputee Coalition of America and the American Kidney Foundation. There were no other immediate survivors. Pluta won a Chicago Headline Club Peter Lisagor Award for his part in the City News Bureau's coverage of the death of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1989, he took a job at the Midwest bureau of the United Press International wire service. He worked in early 1991 as a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covering Winfield and Warrenville, before joining the now-defunct Wheaton Daily Journal covering the police and courts beat. Pluta remained with the paper in mid-1992 after it changed its name to simply the Journal and shifted to being published two days a week.

Pluta was equally comfortable covering hard news as he was writing human interest and feature stories. On the front page of the June 17, 1992, Journal, for example, Pluta wrote side-byside articles about a "farm day" open house at a Wheaton zoo and about a school principal accused of improperly touching a student. Pluta joined the Suburban Life newspaper chain later in 1995, and covered various suburbs including La Grange and Oakbrook Terrace. He eventually co-authored a political column called "Word on the Street" for the Elmhurst Press. In 2007, he began writing for the Des Plaines Valley News, a southwest suburban newspaper chain. "He knew everything about every town," said Rick Kambic, a former Des Plaines Valley News reporter. "We would be done covering something and in the car heading to dinner and we'd pass a house and he'd be like, 'I remember when there was a fire in this house.'"

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OBITS

Richard Bell WASHINGTON – Richard "Dick" Lowell Bell, 90, of Washington, passed away at 12:25 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Morton with his family by his side. Dick was born July 1, 1930, in Gertrude, Washington, to Elmo and Mae Smith Bell. He married JoAnn Richard Bell Maloney in Peoria on Feb. 15, 1964. She preceded him in death in 2011. After high school, Dick attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. From 1951 to 1953, he served overseas in the Korean War, earning two Bronze Stars. In 2018, he traveled with Janet to Washington, D.C., on the Greater Peoria Honor Flight, visiting many of the war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery. He worked for the Springfield News-Leader, later moving to Central Illinois to work for Caterpillar, Inc., as a draftsman for 35 years. Dick trusted Christ as his savior and was a member of Grace Bible Church in Washington. He served in the Boys Brigade and Awana programs at the church. He was also a board member of Land O' Lincoln

Camp Cherith for several years. Along with JoAnn, he owned and operated Bell's Art Seller, where he framed her artwork along with other pieces of art for their customers. He always enjoyed woodworking and made many toys for his grandchildren. He also spent countless hours reading them their favorite books. One of his most loving acts was to provide a loving home to three fatherless children through adoption. His dry sense of humor and kind and gentle spirit touched so many throughout his life. Surviving are two daughters, Ann (Greg) Yakle of Williamsville, and their children, Eric, Zachary and Gage, and Janet (Jeff) Leman of Morton, and their children, Cameron, Cosette, Conner and Calvin, and one son, James Bell of Peoria. Memorials for Dick may be made to Land O' Lincoln Camp Cedarbrook at 610 W. Jefferson, Washington, IL 61571 or online at lolcampcedarbrook.org/ support/. Condolences to the family may be made online at calvertmemorial.com.

Juan Reyes AURORA – Juan Reyes, born Jan. 27, 1940, and a resident of Sugar Grove, passed away Feb. 4, 2021, at Rush Copley Medical

Center in Aurora due to complications from the COVID-19 virus. Born in Natalia, Texas, Juan was adopted and raised by his aunt and uncle, Ramona and Cleto Reyes, after Juan Reyes his mother died when he was 3. As a young man, he enjoyed and excelled in Golden Gloves amateur boxing competitions. In the 1960s, Juan settled in Aurora and joined The Beacon-News, where he served as the building superintendent for 39 years. He was often called "Mr. BeaconNews" because he had a vast number of employable skills and enjoyed pitching in wherever he could. He even translated the advertisements. Verdad! Juan and Robin were married in 1979. Together, they enjoyed going to festivals, camping, remodeling houses, treasure hunting at garage sales, and shopping – often without buying anything. And to their kids' embarrassment, they loved splitting meals at restaurants. Juan was a jokester, a prankster, and he had nicknames for everyone. He was known for his quick-witted sense of humor, charisma, and spontaneity, and he was very proud of his personal accomplishments in

light of his meager beginnings. Not one to rest on his laurels, with his trusty tool belt around his waist, Juan was always ready to help people with remodeling and home repairs. He never met a stranger and made lifelong friends through many home improvement projects. Teaching his talents to others gave Juan a sense of pride. An avid reader and family man, he also loved sharing and discussing what he learned. Additionally, he enjoyed driving and traveled with his family by car – to Florida, Wisconsin, up and down the Eastern seaboard, throughout the Southwest, and visiting national parks and other points of interest across the country. Juan is survived by his wife, Robin; daughter, Tanya; son, Jason (and his girlfriend, Lindsay); grandchildren, Tony, Angela, Alyssa, Michael, Nina, Adrianna, Junior, Shaina, Damien and JT; daughter-in-law, Alanna; more than 20 great-grandchildren; and a large extended family. Juan was affectionately known as "Pa Juan" and "Grandpa Yo" to his grandchildren. Lastly, he left behind his beloved Boston terrier, Lily-girl. Juan was preceded in death by his son, Carlos Ruben Reyes ("Johnny"), who also passed on Feb. 4, his greatgrandson, Gabriel, and a host of loved ones.

PLUTA Continued from Page 32 Kambic said Pluta was a mentor who knew people wherever he went. "He's the one who taught me to do stories about kids, about business and then about politics, because subjects will open up to you. You never know when a human interest story could lead to someone willing to tell you a little something about village hall," Kambic said. "He was an exceptional political reporter, but he loved every part of his beat – the schools, the businesses and the human interest." While working for the Des Plaines Valley News, Pluta also worked as a community reporter for an online website, OnLaGrange.com. He had gotten to know the site's founder, Scott Hardesty, while both worked at competing newspapers.

"Jim had many interests but I would submit that people and journalism were his greatest passions. He knew how to listen and how to talk to people in an empathetic way," said Hardesty, who now is the director of communications for Fenwick High School in Oak Park. "He also cared about the communities he covered as a journalist. This is what made him a great reporter. He wanted to bring the truth to the people and towns he revered." Hardesty recalled Pluta spending many hours at La Grange Village Hall, chatting with community leaders. "Because of his endearing personality, Jim was welcomed inside village offices where his unwavering pursuit of the truth manifested in

incredible stories that mattered," Hardesty said. Pluta remained with OnLaGrange.com until it was sold to a competitor in 2010, and he left the Des Plaines Valley News in 2013. Pluta long had battled diabetes. Over the past 16 years, he had successive amputations of his limbs, including both legs and several fingers, forcing him to need a wheelchair, his brother said. He also was on kidney dialysis. However, Joseph Pluta said his brother "didn't let this stuff slow him down at all. He still socialized and went to restaurants. He was more active than I was. It was an amazing attitude. The thing that impressed me the most about my brother was his spirit."


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DELHAYE Continued from Page 29 Maddox said she “reluctantly “ hired Delhaye part-time, and that she knew over the years Delhaye was surely “in tears” in private as Maddox took a firm line on the way things were done. "But she'd sneak in these little things she wanted changed, and eventually we'd be doing things her way," Maddox said, laughing. "It wasn't because of my personality that it worked. It was hers. When I told her she was going to do something this way, she would never argue back with me. I would have argued back. She was such a humble person, and she had the personality that she could do that." In late-October, Maddox coughed in the office, out of nowhere. "I thought, that's a funny little cough,” she said. “There was something about it that was different and unusual." A couple of hours later, she coughed again and joked with Delhaye that she hoped it wasn’t a COVID-19 cough. They’d both contracted the virus, however, and it leveled Maddox for two weeks. Delhaye, who’d beaten cancer twice, would never get the upper hand on COVID-19. “She’s strong, but I was definitely worried,” Marrow said. "It just attacked everything in her body,” Maddox said. "She couldn't even raise her head up off her couch." She tries to remember Delhaye’s infectious laugh as she works alone in the Reporter office. "On this side of it, the biggest thing for me is the absolute loneliness of this office,” Maddox said. “The absence of her friendship is making it hard for me to breathe sometimes." Those last conversations were difficult, but Marrow was grateful she got to speak with Delhaye one last time, about a week before she passed. “I kind of knew when I talked to her that things weren’t good, but I was grateful I got to talk to her,” she said, beginning to weep. “She was an amazing woman.”