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“Write wingers”

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* The Illinois Times has a very good article about Illinois Statehouse News in its latest edition. “Write wingers” takes a pretty even-handed look at the outfit, which offers free state politics stories to newspapers and radio stations throughout Illinois

Even papers that pay for Associated Press coverage of state government are turning to Illinois Statehouse News.

“I think they move some pretty good stuff,” says Jim Shrader, publisher of the Alton Telegraph. “We trust the content, and that’s why we choose to use it. … It’s one more news service that doesn’t increase my expenses.”

Shrader says that Illinois Statehouse News produces stories that the best-known wire service doesn’t provide.

“I understand that AP is short of manpower – they’re (the wire service is) going to get what they’re fed,” Shrader says. “I don’t want to say it (Illinois Statehouse News product) has more of a downstate focus, but it’s not quite as necessarily Chicago-centric.”

* Their funding is opaque, to say the least…

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, based in Alexandria, Va., is paying the bills for Illinois Statehouse News and similar bureaus set up in several other states. The center also gives grants for journalism projects to conservative think tanks and online publications that typically say they want to hold government accountable and spotlight fiscal foolishness.

Jason Stverak, Franklin Center’s president, is former head of the North Dakota Republican Party. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Franklin Center was launched in 2009 with help from the Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit which has also given grants to such organizations as the Tea Party Patriots Foundation.

Neither the Franklin Center nor the Sam Adams Alliance will reveal where they get their money, saying that donors have a right to privacy. That’s problematic for critics who find irony in the Franklin Center and its news bureaus railing for transparency in government. The source of money to pay for reporters while mainstream media outlets are cutting back is irrelevant, according to the Franklin Center. What gets reported is what counts, the center says.

* Myself and others have given ISN a chance…

Charlie Wheeler, director of the public affairs reporting program at University of Illinois Springfield that provides interns to help newspapers and broadcasters cover the legislature, also took a wait-and-see approach when Illinois Statehouse News asked for students.

“There had been serious reservations raised,” Wheeler recalls. “In general, it was concern that this would be some kind of shadow right-wing operation, because of who the funders were purported to be, and they would be churning out propaganda in the guise of news.”

After reading the product for the better part of a year, Wheeler agreed to provide interns. The stories, he says, showed no slant, and they were getting picked up by media outlets throughout the state.

“It looks like pretty straightforward news to me,” Wheeler says. “I think they have a pretty decent following.” […]

“I think they’re always going to be suspect because of who funds them,” says Rich Miller, publisher of Capitol Fax and “Overall, they have a conservative slant on some things. So what? Are they unfair or ridiculous? No. Are they a decent addition to the Statehouse? Sure.”

* But if this ISN story had been published before I was interviewed for that article, I might have had a slightly different take. It’s called “Priorities for IL women voters: Jobs and economy, not abortion,” yet it has precious little evidence to support the headline or the lede…

As the country’s two main political parties continue to duke it out in the so-called “war on women,” women voters in Illinois say they believe the hubbub is merely a tool to distract from the bread-and-butter issues they care about.

There’s one poll referenced in the article, but it was a national poll, not an Illinois poll. The premise is almost solely based on “woman in the street” interviews.

There’s no mention of how abortion-related issues played an outsized role in the 2010 statewide election, when the economic future was pretty darned bleak here. Just stuff like this…

Indeed. Women are worried about finding a job, putting food on the table, paying for their children’s college tuition and trying to secure their family’s financial future. The “bedroom issues” of gay marriage, birth control and abortion are on women’s radar but aren’t priorities.

Women may not say that the issues are priorities, but those issues can be extremely effective campaign tools. Just ask Gov. Pat Quinn or state Sen. Bill Brady.

* But while this story overtly appears to be “Women don’t care about social issues,” it’s actually much more nuanced…

“I really think, especially in Illinois, people have taken that and run with it as a diversion,” said Laurel Bault, a 54-year-old suburban Chicago married mother of two grown children. “So while we’re standing on the corner with signs saying, ‘I’m not livestock,’ they’re selling our state out. It’s kind of a divide-and-conquer tactic to distract from things that are really going on.”

It’s just too bad that nuance got lost in all the hype.

* Illinois Review, however, is not so worried about the nuance thing. Check this one out

Earlier in the week, we noted Kimberly Strassel’s excellent reporting on the Obama campaign’s strong arm, Chicago Way of dealing with anyone who dares to exercise his right to oppose B. Hussein’s re-election. The Community Organizer in Chief hasn’t forgotten his Alinskyite training, a key feature of which is demonizing those who disagree with him. Nor has his key apparatchik David Axelrod, forgotten how he vaulted this narcissistic, unaccomplished, petulant, affirmative-action assisted C-player from obscurity into the Oval Office.


posted by Rich Miller
Monday, May 14, 12 @ 9:44 am


  1. Indeed. The Illinois Times article was well-balanced. And I am finding the ISN to be fairly well-balanced also, with he exception of the occasional headline,

    That’s why I’me giving them exposure on my citizen journalism site, The Blog Peoria Project. They are AT LEAST as fair and balanced as Fox News. Properly labeled, I don’t see any problem.

    Comment by Billy Dennis Monday, May 14, 12 @ 9:58 am

  2. That’s terrible writing by Illinois Review.

    How could they leave out “gay,” “Kenyan,” “apoligizer-in-chief,” “Hollywood,” “Muslim,”and “socialist?”

    Somebody needs to sharpen their crayons over there.

    Comment by wordslinger Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:00 am

  3. ISN seems “opaque” only because the left bias of the vast majority of media is so painfully “transparent” and doesn’t require any research into funding or corporate structure to reveal itself.

    Any indignation or skepticism when the Tribune and other major papers started running stories with Pro Publica, the left wing-funded investigative reporting outfit?

    Nah, didn’t think so.

    Comment by Adam Smith Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:41 am

  4. While I didn’t know he had a website, I’ve always loved it when Charlie Wheeler is on Capitol View. There he seems to go out of his way to discuss both sides of an issue. I’ll look foward to following the website now.

    Comment by Fan of Cap Fax Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:53 am

  5. The left bias of the vast majority of media is so painfully “transparent” and doesn’t require any research into funding or corporate structure to reveal itself.

    General Electric is leftist?

    – MrJM

    Comment by MrJM Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:57 am

  6. LOL- “The Community Organizer in Chief hasn’t forgotten his Alinskyite training.”

    How can anyone take that seriously?

    Comment by Boone's is Back Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:58 am

  7. I don’t have words for the Illinois Review garbage. I like Wordslinger’s take!

    However it is amazing to me that I don’t see many interviews with women of childbearing age talking about how issues of birth control and family planning are absolutely economic issues. Very personal economic issues. My ability to enter into the economic marketplace is directly related to when I decide to have a child, how many children I decide to have, or if I want to be a mother at all. Childcare for one child is different than child care for 2 or more, same with food on the table or whether I have to deal with my public school that is failing or whether I can afford to move or send my kid to private school. I remember getting a substitute teaching job for a year because a teacher had gotten seriously ill…I really wanted the job. I had to figure out whether what I would be paid would be more than what I would have to pay for childcare. And with no assistance, child care aint cheap! So I’m really tired of people telling me that women care about economic issues over this “distraction” when this supposed distraction is absolutely an economic issue!!!! After we found out about the impending arrival of our 3rd baby, I remember talking to my grandmother about whether we would look into a vasectomy or if I should get my tubes tied and she looked at me and said, “Have you discussed this with your priest?” (We’re Catholic) I said, “Nana, I would rather be able to take care of the children we have rather than rely on Catholic Charities for the ones we can’t afford.” My grandfather looked up and said, “well said.” So yes, 1950’s arguments about whether I have a right to take personal responsibility for my body and my health is something that matters to me. And economically speaking…its more than a little distracting! I’d love to not have to worry about it but as a woman I have to worry about it. Because of the economy, I better worry about it.

    Comment by Anon Monday, May 14, 12 @ 10:59 am

  8. Last I checked… all those things are available. We aren’t talking about economic issues… you have all the control you could ever need. We’re talking about you drilling into my wallet to fund YOUR choices.

    No one is talking about outlawing any of these things. No one.

    Comment by fairness Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:08 am

  9. General Electric is leftist?

    Comment by Anonymous Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:19 am

  10. Sorry, fumblefingered…

    General Electric is leftist?

    Immelt is head of the President’s Job Council an GE pays no federal taxes.

    Works for me.

    Comment by Plutocrat03 Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:21 am

  11. I wouldn’t say GE is leftist, which is the typically non-sequitur response of most Dems.

    I would say that GE has a huge stake in the favoable policies of the current adminstration which grants financial advantage to its operations and crowds out smaller competitors.

    It’s the kind of corporateism that Dems have frothed at the mouth about for decades. But when companies like GE realized they could co-opt Dems just as easily as Republicans, they started hedging their bets.

    So people with big money buy favors from Democrats and people with big money buy favors from Republicans.

    And since you obviously don’t pay any attention to what is going on, GE sold conrolling interest in NBC to Comcast in 2009.

    Comment by Adam Smith Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:31 am

  12. Yeah, I would say GE is leftist. They pay 0 taxes, so they like sucking off the taxpayer just like the rest of the left. They just have a bigger gaping maw for our tax dollars.

    Comment by leftist Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:41 am

  13. ===GE sold conrolling interest in NBC to Comcast in 2009===

    I thought they sold it to Kabletown. The K stands for Kindness.

    Comment by 47th Ward Monday, May 14, 12 @ 11:55 am

  14. “My ability to enter into the economic marketplace is directly related to when I decide to have a child, how many children I decide to have, or if I want to be a mother at all.”

    Well said and something the prelates of the church and the right wing fruitcakes who obsess over what others are doing in their own bedrooms will never understand.

    Comment by wishbone Monday, May 14, 12 @ 12:37 pm

  15. 47, GE’s apparent Bolshie tendencies occurred after it was spun off by the Shinehart Wig Company.

    $717B in assets; $147B in revenues. And leftist.

    Who said right-wingers aren’t funny? It’s just not intentional.

    Kind of like four times up-the-plate Rush defending the sanctity of “traditional” marriage.

    Comment by wordslinger Monday, May 14, 12 @ 12:44 pm

  16. —-…demonizing those who disagree with him.—-

    Wow. So which cliche shall we run with here, Illinois Review? “Takes one to know one” or “Pot, meet kettle”? So unbelievable, yet still so predictable.

    Comment by Anon 1 Monday, May 14, 12 @ 12:50 pm

  17. If only we could have all news outlets provide disclaimers indicating that stories are either “news” or “opinion”. There ought to be a law! A new federal bureaucracy should be created to provide this service thus creating jobs and economic stimulus.

    Comment by Kerfuffle Monday, May 14, 12 @ 1:55 pm

  18. Journalism that is evidence-based and isn’t bigoted or subjugated to the corporate state is categorized as left-wing. Remember, as Stephen Colbert said “Reality has a liberal bias.”

    Comment by Honestly Monday, May 14, 12 @ 4:07 pm

  19. @Adam Smith -

    Yeah. The media is liberally-biased.

    That’s why the columnist with the largest syndication in the country is George Will.

    Get a grip.

    BTW, like others, I find ISN fairly well-balanced. But it is a fair criticism to note that a news organization that prides itself a pushing for transparency refuses to disclose who is funding their work.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Monday, May 14, 12 @ 4:11 pm

  20. Illinois Statehouse News is the best capitol coverage in Illinois. I don’t care who funds them as long as the content is honest and fact-based.

    If we would have had more objective and detailed coverage of Statehouse politics 10 years ago, Madigan and his gang may have not been able to get away with putting the state in the gutter.

    Thanks Trib, SunTimes and SJR for your lack of coverage. BEtter late than never.

    Comment by Freemarketguru Monday, May 14, 12 @ 9:59 pm

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