Journalist Stock SB134SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) that pushes to ensure local journalism survives in Illinois’ small towns and mid-sized cities was signed into law by the governor on Monday.

“I’ve dedicated years of my life to journalism, so I understand the importance of having access to local news,” Stadelman said. “People deserve to know what’s going on in their community, regardless of where they live.”

The measure would create the Local Journalism Task Force, which would be made up of 13 individuals representing print and broadcast media, journalism schools, and state and local government. They would be charged with conducting a study on communities underserved by local journalism and making recommendations on how to preserve and restore news coverage in these areas.

Declines in advertising revenue and circulation have meant that nearly half of the newsroom jobs at newspapers that existed in 2004 have since disappeared—and more than 2,000 papers around the country have closed over the past 15 years.

The task force would be required to submit the findings from its study to the governor’s office and the General Assembly no later than Jan. 1, 2023.

“Whether you live in Rockford, Rochelle, or Chicago, you need to know what’s going on in your community,” Stadelman said. “I hope to provide many journalists with new ideas to address the dwindling presence of the press throughout Illinois.”

Senate Bill 134 has been signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker and takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.