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Progress Illinois on the brink of extinction

Thursday, Nov 20, 2014 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Unless a funding angel comes through very soon, a widely read online publication will cease to exist

It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Progress Illinois will be publishing its last article on December 31, 2014 due to a lack of funding.

With the goal of adding a progressive voice to Illinois political news, Progress Illinois launched back in March 2008 thanks to a founding sponsorship from the SEIU Illinois State Council.

Starting out as a small, unknown blog six-and-a-half years ago, Progress Illinois has blossomed into a major player in progressive news, shining a light on a plethora of relevant issues including: the battle to keep the Hartmarx factory open; the Republic Windows & Doors controversy; the offshoring of jobs at Freeport’s Sensata Technologies; the Golan’s Movers’ fight for unionization; the mistreatment of Teamsters’ workers at WaterSaver Faucet Co.; the firing of CPS parent and Whole Foods worker Rhiannon Broschat last winter; the push for marriage equality in Illinois; the Fight for $15; the Occupy movement; countless workers’ rights and community actions; numerous elections; and the Chicago Teachers Union strike, which marked the start of the progressive community’s formal push back against education reform. […]

With the exit of Progress Illinois, the Chicago online community will be dominated by outlets funded primarily by conservative sources. Barring the financial support of progressive institutions or individuals, PI will cease operations at the end of this calendar year, leaving a gaping hole when it comes to in-depth reporting on progressive issues and coverage of events important to Illinoisans. We hope to get some 11th hour support to keep the site going, so if you would like to see Progress Illinois continue, make some noise and help PI generate the funds needed to continue providing news that is underrepresented in mainstream media and relevant to the progressive community. Thank you for your years of readership and support, and please direct any questions regarding this matter to me, PI editor-in-chief Aricka Flowers, at

I actually have semi-regular contact with Fran Eaton over at Illinois Review, but for whatever reason I haven’t interacted much with the PI folks. In retrospect, I wish I had.

Those of us who do this online thing can be fiercely independent and even more fiercely protective of our own perceived turfs. It’s counterproductive, I think, but old habits die hard.

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  1. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 4:08 pm:

    Seems abrupt. Have a fundraiser and get some local Illinois Progressive faces to show up. Ask the President to come, he loves progress. He uses the word multiple times in almost every speech I have ever heard him give. What have you got to lose?

  2. - DuPage - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 4:37 pm:

    How much do they need?

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 6:11 pm:

    Not a great loss. Really was too left wing and not a very professional organization. IMHO

  4. - Marty Funkhouser - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 6:16 pm:

    Kind of a lot unsaid here. Did SEIU, which was their main funder, pull the plug?

  5. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 6:19 pm:

    Will all the money SEIU and allies just threw around during the election, you would think someone might have checked in on the funding levels or general status of PI.

  6. - A. Nonymous - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 6:27 pm:

    @ Rich: “I actually have semi-regular contact with Fran Eaton over at Illinois Review, but for whatever reason I haven’t interacted much with the PI folks. In retrospect, I wish I had.”

    Symptomatic of the copious number of right-wing echo chamber “news” sites out there from Illinois Policy Institute to Illinois Review to Reboot Illinois to Heritage and on and on. They all pump out a steady stream of right-wing talking points and outright propaganda.

    It makes sense that millionaires and billionaires would invest in so many outlets trying to get majorities of voters to vote against their own self interests and in favor of millionaires’ interests.

    Now if only Progress Illinois had jumped up and down and pouted like Ill Review that you were nothing but a partisan stooge hack…. Maybe you would’ve paid more attention. :)

  7. - A. Nonymous - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 6:38 pm:

    @ Anon 6:11 - reporting on news of interest to progressives is not in and of itself “left wing” any more than reporting on news of interest to conservatives is “right wing”.

    I don’t recall any PI “articles” calling George Bush the anti-Christ or claiming Bruce Rauner cheated on property taxes.

    Yet I distinctly recall when Illinois Review was promoting the idea that then-Senator Obama was “scary” and openly wondered if he was indeed the anti-Christ.

    Or when they claimed Rahm Emanuel was cheating on property taxes but the reality was that Fran Eaton didn’t understand how to read a property value assessment. Her erroneous claims then got picked up by other rightwing channels.

    Illinois Review is far worse on the counts of lack of professionalism and partisan hackery.

    ….IMHO, of course.

  8. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 8:40 pm:

    IPI and the rest of them astroturf mass-produced extremism, punctuated all too infrequently by interesting and constructive stuff. Progress Illinois serves a far more consistently valuable and locally generated product without demagoguery and if it does go down, it’s further proof of how fundamentally unbalanced media and mass communications are in the US.

    I think one problem for the left is that very few unions really see beyond the ends of their own collective noses. Protect even the worst employees, take care of everybody on the payroll and that’s about it. SEIU is that rare union with a broad enough political agenda to match the corporate right-wing backers of organs like IPI. It’s logical that SEIU would have to pick and choose among things like Progress Illinois that don’t get other backers; the question I have of other labor unions is what will it take to realize that they need to have a broader agenda than self-interest just to survive? Just as with the goose that lays the golden egg, you have to feed and care for the whole goose to get the end result.

  9. - anonymous - Thursday, Nov 20, 14 @ 8:40 pm:

    They have good solid content and founded opinion. With an expressed bias, yes…expressed is the kind of bias I prefer. This would be a big loss.

  10. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Nov 21, 14 @ 7:17 am:

    Also, who else finds it weird to pull the plug on a media outlet seven weeks before Chicago’s municipal elections?

  11. - Arizona Bob - Friday, Nov 21, 14 @ 7:18 am:

    As liberal and wealthy as the left wing community is in Illinois, and also considering the incredible financial resources of the lefty unions there, the only rational conclusion is that the “progressive” community didn’t think funding PI was money well spent. Perhaps they had the liberal “entitlement” mentality over there, and didn’t realize that the “progressive” community only supports entitlements when sommeone else is footing the bill!

  12. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Nov 21, 14 @ 7:33 am:

    What if SEIU hired Jeff Wegerson, the organizer at Prairie State Blue, as a part-time editor? What if Jeff had a budget to hire local activists who were already writing about stuff happening locally?

    Progress Illinois would have had some loyalty from local activists.

    But instead, Progress Illinois’s audience is union leaders, politicians and political insiders.

    I would note, that many people in that group can contribute money to keep Progress Illinois going, if they want to keep it going.

  13. - Demoralized - Friday, Nov 21, 14 @ 8:26 am:


    I look forward to a comment from you that isn’t hopelessly partisan, doesn’t use terms like “lefty,” and which is something useful in terms of the conversation.

    I have a feeling I’ll be wishing for a long time.

  14. - Del Clinkton - Friday, Nov 21, 14 @ 9:50 am:


    Thank you for your post. Couldnt have said it better.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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