Act Locally: Illinois Joins Those Proposing Journalism Preservation Act

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As we wait for the California Senate to hear and ultimately vote on the consequential California Journalism Preservation Act this session, similar legislation is being proposed in Illinois, where the efforts are already being hailed as “the most ambitious package of local journalism policy.”

Introduced by Senator Steve Stadelman last week, the Journalism Preservation Act (SB 3591) calls for tech companies to pay a usage fee to local news organizations for their work, 70% of which would then be required to be invested into journalism jobs.

“The future of local journalism is in danger,” says Stadelman, “which is why I have sponsored the Journalism Preservation Act. Local journalism is an essential part of our lives, and Illinois residents deserve access to accurate and important information.”

Before his election to the Illinois Senate in 2012, Stadelman was a news anchor for Rockford’s WTVO, and Northwestern’s Local News Initiative quotes the former journalist as saying the “lack of reporters attending local meetings and serving as watchdogs presents a problem for democracy.”

“When you don’t have a spotlight shining on local government, bad things could happen,” Stadelman says. “I thought state government should look at what could be done to help the bottom line of newsrooms.”

In addition to the Journalism Preservation Act, Stadelman also introduced the Strengthening Community Media Act (SB 3592), which “offers a broad array of incentives, tax breaks and scholarships intended to repopulate local newsrooms,” according to Local News Initiative

In praising the ambitiousness of the legislation, Anna Brugmann of Rebuild Local News said it’s “probably one of the most creative pipeline policies that I’ve ever seen, which is offering scholarships to journalism students who commit to serving in a particular area after graduation.”

Danielle Coffey, News/Media Alliance’s President and CEO, applauded the Journalism Preservation Act much like she had California’s bill, saying “Illinois should follow the lead of California and these other countries and pass legislation to give Illinois news publishers the ability to negotiate with the dominant tech platforms for the compensation they deserve.” 

Coffey also made mention of the size of Illinois’s news industry, specifically in it being bigger than that of Canada’s. Having seen what happened there last year with the country’s near-$100 million agreement with Google (as well as its struggles with Meta after that company pulled its Facebook and Instagram content), it’ll be fascinating to see how these battles play out in 2024. 

Stay tuned!


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