Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Non-profit opens a statehouse bureau in Illinois

As statehouse coverage continues to dwindle around the country, a non-profit organization has opened a bureau in the state capital of Illinois. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity will publish online at, Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register in Springfield reports. Scott Reeder, who had been Statehouse bureau chief for Small Newspaper Group for a decade, will be managing editor for the three-person staff.

The Franklin Center, which believes new technology can make government more transparent, is offering its content free to other news outlets via a Web site. "I think journalism is really radically changing, both as our business model changes and our format for presenting the news changes," Reeder told Schoenburg. "This offers an opportunity to present the news in a variety of formats, and I find that very exciting." The group will operate from a rented space in a private building instead of the Capitol's suite of media offices because the Franklin Center failed to get voted in as a member of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association this summer.

"A key gateway issue for membership is whether you’re an established news organization, and they have not shown us a track record," ILCA President Ray Long of the Chicago Tribune told Schoenburg. "They’re free to reapply." The Republican background of Franklin Center President Jason Stverak has also been questioned. "ABC News can’t hide the fact that the host of their Sunday morning news program, George Stephanopoulos, is a former senior official with the Clinton administration as well as a senior member of his presidential campaigns," Stverak told Schoenberg in an e-mail. "ABC news as well as Franklin Center shouldn’t be judged by the work history of their staff, but by the content they are producing." (Read more)

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