Illinois Public Media receives grant to support Illinois Newsroom from the McCormick Foundation

March 17, 2016

Illinois Public Media has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation through their Democracy Program to support Illinois Newsroom (working title) in strengthening its digital journalism model and regional engagement over the first two years.

Illinois Newsroom is a collaboration of seven public media stations from across the state working together to expand in-depth reports, series, investigations and video programs. With funding from Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the partner newsrooms, eight journalists will focus on reporting across three key topic areas throughout Illinois: political issues, education, and health and environment.

Strengthening Illinois Newsroom’s model for digital-first journalism means equipping reporters and editors with the proper tools to create the right content, at the right time, for the right audiences, on the right platforms.

“The role of the journalist has shifted as publicly available sources of information have grown. Quality digital journalism requires not only exceptional reporting and storytelling, but also expertise and focus on what is important, accurate and relevant,” said Moss Bresnahan, CEO and president of Illinois Public Media. “This grant supports Illinois Newsroom’s focus on being digital-first journalism at its best.”

The journalism collaboration will produce solutions-based reporting on all platforms that respond to the needs of the communities it serves, giving audiences the information they need to participate in the democratic process.

Engagement is key to this success. Each Illinois Newsroom partner station will build meaningful relationships within their communities and create authentic connections between the journalism produced and the issues that are important to the region. With this grant, Illinois Newsroom will hire someone to focus regional engagement on statewide level, integrating multiple approaches into the collaboration’s efforts. This would include, among other things, community conversations and events, social media, and youth outreach.

“We believe that when citizens have the news and information they need and are able to engage with effective government institutions, our democracy can thrive,” said John Sirek, Director of the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “With the hard work and commitment of these grantees, we feel that the future of Illinois’ civic life looks bright. “

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation recently announced nearly $6 million in grants, including the one awarded to Illinois Public Media, to support organizations committed to strengthening democracy and enhancing civic engagement in Illinois. The Democracy Program focuses on three pillars essential to a healthy democratic society—civic education and engagement; high quality journalism that informs and engages the public; and government institutions and practices that are accountable to the people.