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Another name change

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

* Robert Feder

Illinois News Network, which provides coverage of state and regional issues to media outlets across Illinois, has changed its name to The Center Square. The rebranding is intended to stake out a nonpartisan centrist position. But it also can be seen as a break from the organization’s controversial past ties to the Illinois Policy Institute. Since 2017 INN has been owned by the nonprofit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. “For each of us associated with this project, our name serves as a reminder that we’re working with the highest journalistic ethics and precision in mind,” said Chris Krug, president of the Franklin News Foundation. Krug previously served as publisher of the Pioneer Press suburban newspaper chain and as vice president of Shaw Media and editor of the Northwest Herald.

* Chicago Public Square

Confusion, Squared. The Illinois News Network, a once-reliable state government watchdog whose recent past has been spotty (2016 link)—including funding from the conservative Koch Brothers (2018 link)—is taking a new name: The Center Square – Illinois.

■ It’s backed by the Franklin News Foundation, which ranks just one star (of four) from the nonprofit-evaluation site Charity Navigator.

■ Please don’t mistake it for Chicago Public Square, which comes to you courtesy of four-star supporters including Lora Engdahl, Frank Heitzman, Joseph Sjostrom and Teresa Powell—whom you can join here for a few cents a day.

* The organization’s website lists its address as 200 W. Madison St., Ste. 2100 in Chicago. That appears to be a “virtual office” which is also home to a wealth management firm and the former address of InTouch Cuddle Therapy, which is now defunct.

* From the president and publisher

Our company has been renamed Franklin News Foundation, which is about as straightforward as it gets. With a nod to Benjamin Franklin, our nation’s best-known publisher, we’re a non-profit, non-partisan, non-political, no-nonsense organization whose mission is to connect content and audience with news from state capitals and across the states that simply isn’t reported elsewhere.

Our journalism platform is TheCenterSquare.com. When a reporter is on target within their beat, they’re said “to be hitting the center square.” I’ve always liked that saying, because rather than writing “a story,” I’ve always preferred that our reporters write “the story.” For each of us associated with this project, our name serves as a reminder that we’re working with the highest journalistic ethics and precision in mind.

Over the past two years, we’ve watched as partisanship has permeated reporting from Washington. And, state by state, as we’ve increased our staff and dialed into state-level issues across the country, reading thousands of competitive stories, we’ve seen how this same bias creeps into capitol-level news coverage – pushing readers and journalistic reputations out to the right and the left.

Commentary has overwhelmed straight-news content, and caused significant distortion for time-pressed readers disinterested in becoming professional fact-checkers. Too many people are reading someone’s take on a story before they’ve read the story.

Millions of Americans seek news from the vacated middle ground – from that center square – and simply want to understand what is happening in their state capitol, and how it affects their lives.

Our reporters are keenly interested in economics and finance, how tax dollars are generated and how they’re spent. We talk to our readers in terms that they understand rather than through the wonky, inside baseball that so often stands for statehouse reporting.

Legislative mechanics already are complicated. Reporters should be educating the reader and simplifying the news, rather than showing off and making the activity or inactivity of the statehouse more confusing. We commit to write in plain English.

I Googled “‘hitting the center square’ reporter” and came up with one result, the column excerpted above. Not quite a Googlewhack, but still unique.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments »
  1. - Reality Check - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    They can call it whatever they want. Unless and until they show proof that IPI no longer owns, funds, supports or pays staff of Franklin/Watchdog/Center Square, then it’s just another propaganda arm of IPI.

    That’s what it’s been and that’s what even their most recent tax filings have proven it to be.


  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    That’s troncalicious.

    If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b.s.

    Who’s the publisher of The Center Square — Paul Lynde? (You youngsters at home who don’t get it, use the google).


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    ===Paul Lynde===

    Well played Word. And fast too.

    I had to look it up because I almost confused him with Charles Nelson Reilly, but that was Match Game.


  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:47 pm:


  5. - unspun - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    So the reporter from the formerly known INN will tear off the INN velcro patch from the microphone, stick on a Center Square patch, then cash the Koch paychecks just the same. And MJM will still ask, at every turn, whether the reporter is from the Policy Institute. Same as it ever was. Half-truth, cherry-picked information, inflammatory rhetoric, ginned-up bases.


  6. - Peter Torque - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
    A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?


  7. - Jocko - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    Curse you both for beating me to Northwestern’s very own Paul Lynde. Circle gets the square (exclamation point).

    To the post, INN is to centrist as Paul Lynde was to straight.


  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    –I had to look it up because I almost confused him with Charles Nelson Reilly, but that was Match Game.–

    Both were notorious for taping their best shows after long, liquid lunches. Same with Wally Cox and Charley Weaver.


  9. - A guy - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 2:58 pm:

    “Get your grubby mitts off my cage, kid”.


  10. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    I tried Googling them earlier to file a complaint. Apparently I need to visit a park in Lemont in order to do so.


  11. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    I think Dom Delouise is getting left out
    Should be a laugh riot …almost as good at Tilman at the Globe


  12. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    Q: In what state was Abraham Lincoln born?
    Paul Lynde: Naked and screaming like the rest of us.


  13. - olddog - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    “Center Square,” eh? If these guys are anywhere near the center, I am the assistant deputy people’s commissar for communications of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic .


  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Nothing on InTouch Cuddle Therapy? I worked hard on this post, people! lol


  15. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    ===Nothing on InTouch Cuddle Therapy?===

    I heard Sen. Sandoval just proposed a tax on professional cuddling service providers to fund a vertical capital budget.

    https://abc7chicago.com/health/professional-cuddling-is-real-and-beneficial/4337079/


  16. - El Conquistador - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    They are the Fox News of IL political journalism… shoveling red meat to the radical right.


  17. - very old soil - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    Does Mr. Krug know the difference between precision and accuracy?


  18. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    There are so many ways that commenting on Cuddle Therapy could bring down the banishment hammer that it becomes untouchable.


  19. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    What is the over / under in months until the next name change?


  20. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    Benjamin Franklin is renowned for many things.

    “Publisher” is not one of the first that comes to mind.

    But as a publisher, he was not known for being much of a centrist - not surprising - or for being unbiased - also not surprising.

    Franklin also was not known for his integrity as a newspaperman, either. Like Poor Richard’s Almanac, he often ran stories in his paper under pseudonyms, and even published a news story about his kite-flying experiment in the third person.

    Seems on-brand for this crew.


  21. - CEA - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    “For each of us associated with this project, our name serves as a reminder that we’re working with the highest journalistic ethics and precision in mind”

    All The News We’re Paid To Print ™


  22. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:32 pm:

    What got me blocked
    Dom DeLouise
    or the Globe joke


  23. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:43 pm:

    Never mind we see we finally got on the board —so to speak


  24. - anonymous - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:48 pm:

    My favorite part was that detail about cuddling.


  25. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 3:48 pm:

    Capt Fax: Here is what we missed
    About this Event

    InTouch Cuddle Therapy Grand Opening

    platonic . consensual . nurturing touch therapy

    “Healing Humanity, 2 People at a Time”

    Saturday January 19th 2019 from 12p to 4p

    200 W. Madison Chicago, IL 60606 - Lounge @ 200 (9th floor)

    Free Admission (pre-registration required)*

    1 Door Prize Raffle Ticket with Admission

    + a :30 minute Guided Meditation session (12:30p-1p)

    + a :30 minute Yoga (BYOM) for Stress & Anxiety class (1p-1:30p)

    ^ lead by Prof. Cassandra Powell, BS, MA, MA, PhD(c) of Light of Living Kindness


  26. - Blast from the past - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:09 pm:

    From the deep archives: Chris Krug and Dan McCaleb were running the Northwest Herald back in 2006, when it endorsed both Republican Judy Baar Topinka for governor and Democrat Pat Quinn for lite guv: https://capitolfax.com/2006/10/15/blagojevich-06-quinn-0/


  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:20 pm:

    Aside from Proft, the IPI/INN, and the Chicago Tribune editorial board, I’m not really seeing any clear partisan bias in statehouse journalism.

    Yes, Gov Rauner accused the statehouse press corps. Because they refused to print his press releases verbatim. That’s not partisan bias, that’s just doing your job.

    Turning to INN under any masthead to provide straight News is like buying a bucket of water from the guy who set your house on fire. Pro-tip, that’s probably more kerosene in that bucket, not water.


  28. - Honeybear - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:29 pm:

    Cuddle Therapy…..hmmmmmm
    Maybe I can do that
    after I get laid off at DHS.


  29. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    Does Chris Krug read what his staff produces?
    His statements make me think not.


  30. - Jibba - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    ===Another Name Change===

    Because the first rebranding didn’t work.

    Rich, they must have thought you were too busy with your wonky, inside baseball to notice their fake news slogan, which is priceless to have in the roll out of their new plain talk branding.


  31. - Cailleach - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 4:58 pm:

    Thanks for the laughs, Paul Lynde:
    Q. Why do bikers wear leather?
    A. Because chiffon wrinkles.


  32. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 5:05 pm:

    Q: What is one reason to pound meat?

    Lynde’s answer would get me banned.


  33. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 5:31 pm:

    Most liberals only see bias among right leaning media.

    They are blind to left leaning bias because it reinforces their views.


  34. - Sonny - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 6:31 pm:

    That’s the kind of garbled newspaper media nothing speak that helped get the industry where it is now.


  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 15, 19 @ 6:57 pm:

    ===Nothing on InTouch Cuddle Therapy?===

    Isn’t that what got Robert Kraft in trouble?


  36. - John Gregory (ex-IRN) - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 4:53 pm:

    “The rebranding is intended to stake out a nonpartisan centrist position.”

    I needed a laugh today.


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