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Lee to shutter its Statehouse bureau

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Last week, Decatur Herald & Review Chris Coates sent an e-mail to employees…

As some of you may have heard, we’ve made the very difficult decision to close the Springfield bureau. This was not an easy choice. I hope we work something out to re-open our Statehouse operation at some point. But for now, we’ll be filling the gaps and localizing content whenever possible.

The H&R, the Bloomington Pantagraph, the Southern Illinoisan, the Mattoon/Charleston Journal Gazette & Times-Courier and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are all under the Lee Enterprises umbrella. It wasn’t that long ago when most of those papers had their own Statehouse reporter, plus one for Lee itself.

Dan Petrella recently announced that he was leaving Lee. They’re not replacing him. None of the other papers in that company have a Statehouse reporter.

* I followed up with Coates and here’s what he sent me today…

We’ve decided to no longer have a full-time reporter at the Illinois Statehouse. We’ll continue covering these issues with reporters from our newsrooms. Illinois politics and Statehouse decisions are important to us, and we’re committed to reporting on these critical areas.

*Sigh*

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Northsider - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    And our accelerating slide into Idiocracy continues…


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 9:50 am:

    Another huge win for Rauner, Raunerites, and the vertical integration they have in place.

    One less “outfit” to worry about.


  3. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 9:57 am:

    Another win for the Illinois News Network. I’m imaging they are going to be popping out articles for these folks soon.


  4. - NobodysAccountable - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 9:57 am:

    Exactly why those in the statehouse aren’t being bombarded by common sense questions from twenty different directions like days past. Elected officials used to have to answer to a press corps. When the press is diligent, investgative, and unbiased, it is what holds our Government accountable to it’s citizens.


  5. - Piece of Work - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:07 am:

    LOL, Willy blaming Rauner for a newspaper having financial problems. Similar to him blaming Rauner for the loss of 23% of EIU’s student body between 2010-14, before he was sworn in.

    Keep up the good work OW!!


  6. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:08 am:

    The trouble is the kids they hire in their newsrooms barely can cover the local city council meeting.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    ===… blaming Rauner for a newspaper having financial problems.===

    No. Reading is fundamental.

    “Another huge win for Rauner, Raunerites, and the vertical integration they have in place.”

    I said the situation is a win, not an effect that was caused by Rauner.

    You should read things, it helps.

    ===…blaming Rauner for the loss of 23% of EIU’s student body between 2010-14, before he was sworn in.===

    No, Rauner is responsible for A) not funding EIU, B) Forcing EIU to write a letter they are staying open, which had never been done until a Rauner.

    Anything else?

    If I were you, practice reading, it helps!


  8. - morningstar - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    These newspapers already relied heavily on canned content and devote few resources to reporting local — let alone State — issues (unless we are talking about the sports section — those get ample coverage.) When Lee Enterprises took over the Charleston-Mattoon Journal Gazette, their investment in journalism for local and regional matters diminished significantly. I could find more news in a church bulletin.


  9. - illini - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    Second attempt to post -

    Well, Rich, I guess that will leave you and this site as being the only steady and reliable source if the news in our State.

    I hate to see these other bureaus close, but honestly, what I might read from other sources was usually old news by the time it made it online or imprint.

    The “Spin Machines” will continue and their messaging will continue to be reported as news regardless of the veracity and balance that is lacking in the reporting about state government.


  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    The internet/techno swirl has the power to transform the status quo to the status who-the-hell-knows. Newspapers are dying, more trees are living; blogs are exploding, along with fact-checking. It will take a few decades before things settle in, but only if we’re lucky. Newspapers were one of the hundreds of enterprises that thought “the world can’t exist without me”. Try to think of just a few things that ‘will always be needed”. It’s a new world, but ‘brave’ isn’t the word I’d apply.


  11. - decatur guy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    From giants like Carol Alexander and Mike Lawrence who gave Old Lindsay Schaub / then Lee papers readers a great insight into state government.
    Sad day for freedom of the press and the public’s right to know


  12. - Winnin' - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    ‘Sigh’ is right.
    Shame on Lee News. Rauner gets his best coverage when the local reporters are doing the story. And he knows he can put starts in their eyes with his one-on -one interviews.
    Where is Kurt Erickson when you need him?


  13. - Piece of Work - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Willy, my reading comprehension is fine, it is your agenda that needs work.


  14. - Saluki - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    I know times are tight, but at what point do you essentially become a network of local “shoppers.” I mean, maybe no need for a statehouse bureau in Nebraska, but in Illinois it’s critical.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    ===my reading comprehension is fine, it is your agenda that needs work.===

    Your trolling is noted.

    You can’t refute where I showed your your ignorance, so now it’s me?

    That’s fun, lol


  16. - Ray del Camino - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    This is a sad day, and one we should have seen coming. Lee is run by bean-counters, not journalists. Good Lord, look what they’ve done to the Post-Dispatch. The heroic little Southern is hanging on, but without a reliable link to the Capitol, how are we to keep the animals from running the circus?


  17. - Annonin' - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Mr/Ms Piece of Work OW is on track. There once was a spirited, competitive press corp and a cadre of smart, young interns who could be deployed to do the grunt work. The folks have been slimmed down a lot. It means less of a group to closesly follow BigBrain at a time when he should be closely followed day and nite. The content srved up via the internet is generally lite on quality and if dubious origin. BigBrain’s IPI pals and Proft’s fake newspapers are hard at work. Capt Fax has his moments, but stays under the gullibility lamp with BigBrainers too often. Rauner gets a break


  18. - Winnin' - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:42 pm:

    Sad day for Lee subscribers throughout Illinois. Good day for Rauner.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    ===There once was a spirited, competitive press corp and a cadre of smart, young interns who could be deployed to do the grunt work. The folks have been slimmed down a lot. It means less of a group to closesly follow BigBrain at a time when he should be closely followed day and nite. The content srved up via the internet is generally lite on quality and if dubious origin. BigBrain’s IPI pals and Proft’s fake newspapers are hard at work.===

    Thanks, - Anonnin’ - for that assist in explanation.


  20. - Shemp - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    And the QC Times for the Moline/Rock Island market.


  21. - Now a Hoosier - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    === “BigBrain’s IPI pals and Proft’s fake newspapers are hard at work.” ===

    Indeed, largely because corporate owned journalism left the door wide open while walking out. At one time, Copley, Lee and Pulitzer — plus Bloomington and Peoria before they were absorbed – — would have accounted for about 10 full-time Illinois statehouse journalists. And that’s not even counting the interns of a given season. Of that group, looks like Doug’s the last man standing.


  22. - dr. reason a, goodwin - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    I’m seriously disheartened by this. If it weren’t for Molly Parker’s wonderful reporting in The Souther, I’d probably cancel my subscription on this news.


  23. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 7:10 pm:

    A preview of state government coverage from the Lee papers. Check out the captions.

    A Senate inauguration picture about “Tom Cullerton” being named “majority speaker” in the Senate.

    http://www.pantagraph.com/news/state-and-regional/state-of-the-standoff-in-budget-inaction-illinois-has-no/article_1c73780a-6bb0-5342-9857-94d8f0f6e457.html


  24. - Now a Hoosier - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 9:21 pm:

    Doubt that came from Petrella. More likely the photographer got it wrong and no desk editor or copy editor corrected it. Lee both gutted its copy-editing and sent its local design to centralized hubs, so there’s very few people left in-house to process incoming content. A sorry state, but very little different at most Gatehouse papers. Downstate Illinois journalism has taken a pounding … from its owners.


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 10:16 pm:

    Used to work for one of the Lee papers. Just about everything has been outsourced and centralized. Just barebones ad staff and editorial staff left. There isn’t much left to cut, but they will think of something — like this. State AP isn’t what it used to be, either, so most Illinoisans get their state news from Facebook or one of the Proft papers. TV? Forget about it. No wonder fake news is ascendant. Isn’t it ironic that the more our communications abilities grow, the less we know?


  26. - The young gov - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 11:32 pm:

    So incredibly depressing. I wonder what Brian Mackey thinks of all this. Are the ones that remain ever going to sleep? And it’s been big news year(s) at the statehouse (despite the ground hog day theme). Very concerning to think our tools to hold people accountable are dwindling.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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