The program's success "suggests that in the face of existential threats to the news industry, turning to collaboration—and away from traditional notions of competition—can pay off for local news," Cohen writes.
It is also a hopeful sign for political journalism. A Pew Research Center study found that Illinois went from 12 full-time statehouse reporters in 2009 to five in 2014, the sharpest such decline in the nation. That was especially troublesome in a state known for political corruption. The lack of reputable coverage was compounded when partisan and ideologically driven outlets tried to fill the void and provide coverage to Illinois papers. "Capitol News aims to offer a rigorous nonpartisan option," Cohen reports.
CNI, which has three reporters and a full-time intern, "roughly doubled the number of full-time print newspaper reporters working at the statehouse," Cohen reports. The project receives funding from the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation and the Illinois Press Association, parent of the foundation. All CNI content is free to IPA members.