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SPRINGFIELD – As newsrooms across the state and nation continue to shrink, State Senator Steve Stadelman’s measures to encourage local ownership of newsrooms and recruit more students to the journalism profession have passed the Senate.

“Investing in journalism education is investing in the future of our democracy,” said Stadelman (D-Rockford).

One part of the measure involves the sale of local news organizations to other companies. The issue is private equity firms are buying newspapers and consolidating them until they provide very little local news with few to no local journalists, eventually shutting them down. The legislation would require a local news organization to notify the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and employees 120 days before a sale occurs. The goal is other local newspapers, companies or non-profits will have the opportunity to step in to keep the publication local.

“The requirement for written notice prior to the sale of a local news organization is crucial in protecting the livelihoods of employees and preserving the continuity of community-focused journalism,” said Stadelman. “This provision aims to uphold accountability and fairness in the transition process.”

The bill would also establish the Journalism Student Scholarship Program, designed to support students pursuing careers in journalism.

As the cost of higher education continues to rise, many aspiring journalists face financial barriers that hinder their ability to pursue their passion. The scholarship program aims to alleviate these financial burdens and encourage talented individuals to enter the field, ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled professionals committed to upholding journalistic principals and serving their communities.

“By establishing the Journalism Student Scholarship Program, we are not only providing financial support to aspiring journalists but also ensuring the vitality of independent journalism for generations to come,” said Stadelman.

Senate Bill 3592 heads to the House for further consideration.