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Dan Haley and Tracy Baim speak during Monday's panel discussion, "Taking the Nonprofit Leap" during the first day of the Illinois Press Association and Foundation's annual convention. The virtual convention continues through Friday.
By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association
SPRINGFIELD – Over the past four decades, Dan Haley’s experience with nonprofits was limited to covering them.
So he had, and still has, many questions about how to shift to a nonprofit model - which the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park did last year, 39 years after he’d founded it in 1980.
“You need a good lawyer, and you need a lot of accountants,” Haley said during “Taking the Nonprofit Leap,” Monday’s afternoon session at the Illinois Press Association and Illinois Press Foundation virtual convention. “It takes time and expertise – expertise that God knows I don’t have.”
Haley was joined on the panel by longtime Chicago journalist Tracy Baim, publisher of the Chicago Reader and owner and co-founder of Windy City Times, a 35-year-old LGBTQ newspaper.
True to form, she didn’t mince words when asked what sort of papers should pursue moving to the nonprofit model.
“The smaller the paper – maybe weeklies and biweeklies – this might be the model that can save it,” she said. “For most dailies, for a chain, I think it would be almost impossible for a chain to do it all at one time.”
A media outlet would need its ownership to get on board with the decision, and relinquish the right to have any influence over editorial content. Unless, of course, the owner happens to be the editor and publisher, as is the case for Haley with his resulting nonprofit, Growing Community Media. He and his wife, Mary, were the majority stakeholders. He said among the other dozen owners, several were intimately involved with the four newspapers: the Wednesday Journal in Oak Park, Forest Park Review, and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, and the Austin Weekly News on Chicago’s West Side.
“So we were able to get everyone on board and make the transition pretty easily,” Haley said.
Baim is eternally grateful for one thing in 2020: On Feb. 1, she submitted her application to the IRS to make The Reader a nonprofit, the product of a long-standing discussion to make the move – not to mention the 3 months it took her to complete the paperwork.
“I’m grateful we got that application in before the devastation hit with COVID,” Baim said. “I don’t think I’d have the mental strength to do it.”
A long road stretches ahead of The Reader. Haley said it took about 18 months to fully convert the Wednesday Journal to the nonprofit model. In fact, he said it’s stil about only 95 percent of the way there.
Something as simple as botched math on the IRS application delayed the approval process a couple of months last year, he said, adding that approval took about 6 months from the day the application was submitted.
“The IRS is … I’d say they’re a little suspicious of nonprofit journalism,” Haley said. “They’re new to it. There isn’t even a box to check yet for nonprofit journalism.”
The obvious benefits of going nonprofit? No more paying taxes, and becoming eligible for government grants.
One downside is the time needed to write those grant applications, and the anxiety of awaiting responses.
Among other caveats, nonprofits are not allowed to endorse political candidates.
“That’s hard,” Haley said. “To my surprise, something I regularly hear from readers, is they say they’ll miss our endorsements – even if they gave us a lot of grief for them.”
The foreboding writing didn’t hit newspapers’ walls when COVID struck. It had been there for quite some time, Haley said.
He said the Great Recession of 2008 made the advertising base “wobbly,” and that already precarious revenue streams were “softening” further before the pandemic hit.
Baim warned that going to a nonprofit model is not a silver bullet, and that other prudent decisions are vital to keeping even the mightiest small publications in business.
“This is not the solution. This is one of many solutions,” she said.
For instance, after 35 years of printing the Windy City Times, she recently made the tough call to go digital-only. She said she hasn’t had to lay off anyone in editorial.
“We’re choosing people over paper,” she said. “I’m not profit-motivated. I’m survival-motivated.”
Two years ago, the weekly was “minutes, days away from being shut down” by its owner, the Chicago Sun-Times, Baim said, but two individuals stepped up and bought the shares for $1 apiece to save it.
So when she informed her staff about the planned shift to the nonprofit model, there was much rejoicing.
“Our staff was ecstatic,” Baim said. “They had suffered through so much bad ownership and neglect – some of it malicious and some of it more benign. They felt like they were at the mercy of being shut down at any time. It’s on our team, our board and our staff.”
Haley said his staff, too, has been clued in on every step of the process in becoming a nonprofit.
“Our staff knew within a week or two of the conversations beginning that this was the path we were heading down,” he said. “They knew this was a path forward.”
Baim helped him down it with her wealth of knowledge in the Chicagoland foundation world.
“God bless Tracy,” he said. “She’s connected us to the Chicago foundation world. This woman is an absolute dynamo. … There is a very deep, rich and extraordinarily fragile ecosystem in journalism in Chicago. If we make it through, Tracy will be a big part of it.”
Nonprofits are governed by a board and buoyed by donations. Growing Community Media already has 1,200 small donors, some of whom contribute monthly, some one time. Larger donors give between $5,000 and $10,000, while the Family Foundation “has committed to much more” over the next 3 years, Haley said.
Transitioning doesn’t mean leaving existing partners behind.
“This doesn’t mean we’re out of the entrepreneurial business,” Haley said. “It’s just a new model at this point.”
Another constant is that those contributors can’t have influence over what’s reported.
“If you have an overlap of family members who owned the paper, they could still want to influence coverage, including with politics, which could cause trouble with the IRS,” Baim said.
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Illinois Principals Association examines
principal pipeline in new report
Nov. 18, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Alison Maley
Government & Public Relations Director
Illinois Principals Association
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Principals Association recently released a report on the principal pipeline and school leader turnover entitled “Effective and Sustained Principals for Every Illinois Community.” The report examines the critical role principals play in creating effective schools for every child, details the serious problem of principal attrition, and makes policy recommendations to help slow attrition and rebuild the principal pipeline.
“The rate of principal attrition and the lack of individuals entering the principalship in Illinois are at crisis points,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, Illinois Principals Association Executive Director. “Policymakers, school districts, the IPA and other stakeholders must make a concerted effort to invest in both current and future school leaders. Effective and Sustained Principals for Every Illinois Community offers recommendations to jumpstart conversations to develop strategies that ensure every Illinois school has an effective and sustained principal.”
Effective and Sustained Principals for Every Illinois Community illustrates many of the reasons principals are leaving the profession at a greater rate than ever before. The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) have previously identified increasing student and staff social emotional issues, high-stakes accountability, a lack of decision-making authority, and obstacles to professional learning opportunities as some reasons that principals are increasingly leaving the profession. Locally, a 2019 IPA member survey indicated that over 50% of principals surveyed are under extreme stress 10 or more hours every week, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Principal attrition not only creates a void of talented individuals to impact the lives of children, but the financial and qualitative effect of turnover is significant. Preparing and onboarding a new principal costs an average $75,000 nationally, and student performance in Math and Language Arts generally decreases the year after a principal leaves and requires up to three years for a new principal to make up the loss.
To stem principal attrition and rebuild the principal pipeline, the Illinois Principals Association recommends policy changes at both state and school district levels which include:
• Support and maintain building administration staffing levels recommended by the Evidence Based Funding Model;
• Provide statewide leadership mentoring and coaching, especially to new principals;
• Provide continuous professional learning opportunities;
• Create alternative pathways to the principalship;
• Study why individuals are not choosing school leadership as a viable career path; and,
• Offer scholarships and other incentives to individuals who choose the principalship as a career path, especially for BIPOC individuals and other underrepresented groups.
For more information about Effective and Sustained Principals for Every Illinois Community, please visit https://ilprincipals.org/advocate/principal-pipeline-crisis/.
About the Illinois Principals Association
The Illinois Principals Association serves over 5,900 educational leaders statewide and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.
Tuscola author publishes book
of award-winning columns
Nov. 12, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: David Porter
David Porter, a newspaper publisher in Tuscola, Illinois, has published a 300-page compilation of his award-winning Ramblin’ Man columns. Called The Make-Out Room & Other Stories, the title column won the 2020 Best Humor Column award from the National Newspaper Association. Over the past 26 years, the column also has received first-place nods from the Illinois Press Association and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.
The self-syndicated column has appeared in more than a dozen Illinois newspapers. The stories draw from the everyday experiences and musings of the author. Topics frequently include family, cigars, reflections on the news and oddball stuff.
Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist quipped, “David Porter is without question the finest newspaper columnist on the planet that I am aware of who is based in Tuscola, Illinois.”
The book, available on amazon.com, is illustrated by Lana Weatherford Hill of Arcola. Hill, who was a classmate of Porter’s at Tuscola High School, also writes an award-winning column and illustrated the children’s book Ten Little Sisters.
The Make-Out Room also is available for Kindle readers on amazon.com. A link can be found online at ramblinman.us.
Porter is married to the former Jennie Quinn, a Kindergarten teacher. They first met while in Kindergarten together. They have three children, five grandchildren (and one on the way) and four great-grandchildren.
EDITORS: For an electronic copy of the book for review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cover art also is available
In Illinois, harvest typically takes place between September and November. Motorists should be on the lookout for farm equipment during that time, including combines, grain carts and semi-trucks. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
Oct. 23, 2020
For Immediate Release
By Katie Zelechowski
Illinois Farm Bureau
Harvest season is the time of year when some of the best aspects of Midwest agriculture can be experienced by all. Pumpkin patches and apple orchards in Illinois are open for visitors and the golden-brown fields of mature crops line rural roads across the state. But along with these markers of fall come the dangers of transportation incidents associated with harvest.
The harvest season in Illinois typically spans from September to November each year. During that time, drivers should be on the lookout for a variety of farm equipment including combines, tractors, grain carts and semi-trucks. These large vehicles are not only cumbersome for the people operating them, but they take up extra room while traveling down the road, moving slowly and making wide turns.
“Farmers and equipment operators are working hard this season to transport crops grown in our state,” said Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) Assistant Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Rodney Knittel.
“But while fall is a busy time of year for many of us, especially farmers in the middle of harvest, it’s important to take rural road safety seriously,” he said.
When drivers see slow-moving vehicles on the road, they should slow down and be prepared to stop. They should look for lights on the equipment to indicate any changes in speed or direction.
If the operator pulls the equipment to the side of the road, other motorists should not assume the driver is letting someone pass; they may be preparing for a turn. Before passing, other motorists should use extreme caution and always wait for the equipment operator to acknowledge their presence and indicate that it is safe to pass.
In addition to using caution around agriculture equipment, it is also important to keep in mind that rural roads have unique characteristics and conditions that can make them more challenging to navigate.
Since they are not maintained in the same way city streets are, country roads may have poor or damaged surfaces and narrow lanes with no shoulders. Center and edge lines, sharp turns and blind hills may also be unmarked. These conditions can be extremely hazardous at night when there are no streetlights to illuminate the road.
“Remember, harvest activities do not stop when the sun goes down, so be prepared to encounter agriculture equipment on the road at all times,” said Knittel.
IFB’s Associate Field Support Director Jackie Jones, who oversees the organization’s health and safety programs, said above all, motorists should slow down and be patient when traveling.
“Farmers on the road are doing their best to keep other motorists safe so that everyone can get home to their families at the end of the day,” said Jones. “But it takes everyone working together to make that happen.”
For more tips on road safety during the harvest season, visit www.ilfb.org/ruralroadsafety.
Poor or damaged surfaces, narrow lanes with no shoulders and unmarked center and edge lines are all common characteristics of rural roads. During harvest time, always use caution when traveling in the countryside and be on the lookout for farm equipment. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
CONTACT: WILLIAM FURRY
5255 Shepherd Road
Springfield, IL 62703
Oct. 19, 2020
For Immediate Release
The Illinois State Historical Society (ISHS) welcomes the ongoing public discussion about monuments and commemoration in the Prairie State. Communities across Illinois face decisions about the presence of commemorative statues, monuments, and memorials and the naming of public spaces and buildings.
The ISHS encourages Illinois communities engaged in these discussions to carefully consider not just the historical facts of the figure being commemorated but the historical context and intent of the commemoration itself. Furthermore, those engaging in these discussions should reflect on who constitutes their communities and if all relevant voices are being heard. Finally, each community should determine what stories best represent their history and values and how best to tell those stories in a commemorative landscape.
Removing or reinterpreting a monument does not "erase" nor "change” history. It asserts that interpretations of the past are dynamic and change over time. Voices and perspectives that were previously silenced are now active participants in choosing the priorities and purposes of public commemoration. Ultimately, each community is challenged to determine which stories best represent their history and values and how best to tell those stories in a commemorative landscape.
We also want to remind our fellow Illinoisans that historians who specialize in the history of Illinois and its people have done careful and nuanced research that could meaningfully inform these discussions. Drawing on their expertise potentially helps uncover the intentions of those who erected the monuments, and how these monuments function as symbols whose meaning changes over time.
Since 1899, the ISHS has stood for the open inquiry and rigorous research that helps to connect people with our state's history.
We encourage communities to continue considering questions of monuments and commemoration, and welcome them to avail themselves of our network of experts and resources.
William Furry, for The Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society
# # #
CONTACT: ALISON MALEY
Government and Public Relations Director
Oct. 1, 2020
For Immediate Release
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Lifetouch and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) encourage all communities in Illinois to celebrate Principal Appreciation Week October 18-24, 2020, and Principal Appreciation Day on Friday, October 23, 2020. This state-endorsed recognition was first approved by the Governor of Illinois in 1990 and is annually celebrated. The IPA also joins the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) to recognize October as National Principals Month.
“In October, we celebrate Principal Appreciation month to honor the tireless efforts and contributions of school leaders throughout the state,” said Dr. Amy Dixon, President of the Illinois Principals Association. “During this unfamiliar time, school leaders are working harder than ever to find unique ways to connect with students, feed their communities, provide Wi-Fi to those in need, facilitate numerous stakeholder meetings, and more. The list is truly endless. As our principals step out of their comfort zones to lead through these challenges, we know our schools will be better tomorrow than they are today because of their efforts. Please join us in celebrating the eminent abilities that our principals exemplify. We hope that they remember to take care of themselves, take care of those they serve, and let the organization know if we can help in any way.”
“School leadership matters, especially right now,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, IPA Executive Director. “As a former principal and having visited dozens of schools throughout Illinois, the quality of a school’s learning environment and the ability of a school to do what is best for its students comes as a direct result of the leadership provided by the school’s Principal and leadership team. Courageous leadership is essential to equitably educate students and work to provide the resources and support they need to reach their potential. It is important that we recognize and encourage our schools’ leaders every day. The pandemic has heightened the need for us to intentionally share appreciation for those who do so much for our state’s young people.”
Principal Appreciation Day provides learning communities an opportunity to publicly recognize the work, commitment and importance of principals, assistant principals, and deans throughout the state. Lifetouch and the IPA invite all teachers, students, parents, and community members to perform some act of appreciation on Friday, October 23rd to acknowledge the leadership of building administrators in Illinois’ public and private schools.
Lifetouch is proud to be the official school photographer for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Lifetouch is honored to support local members of the Illinois Principals Association in recognition of “Principal’s Appreciation Day.” Lifetouch is excited to have joined forces with Shutterfly to bring together two industry leaders who share a common purpose –to share life’s joy through capturing and preserving memories with the click of a camera. While we continue to deliver the quality photography and service you expect from Lifetouch, we are creating a new, innovative experience that will allow you to do more with your photos than ever before. As a part of our mission to help you share your memories, Lifetouch and Shutterfly are truly better together! Learn more at: https://schools.lifetouch.com/shutterfly/
The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,800 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 17, 2020
ILLINOIS PRESS ASSOCIATION HONORS TOP NEWSPAPERS, EDITOR, REPORTER
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ top newspapers were honored today at the Illinois Press Association’s virtual convention. More than 120 daily and nondaily newspapers competed in 40 editorial categories.
The Nebraska Press Association judged the more than 2,000 editorial entries for work done in 2019.
The Chicago Sun-Times won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies.
The Sweepstakes Trophies are awarded to newspapers earning the most points in six different circulation divisions. Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.
Runner-up for the Paddock Trophy was the Chicago Tribune Media Group. In third place was Daily Herald Group, Arlington Heights.
In the medium-sized daily newspaper category, The News-Gazette in Champaign took top honors for the fifth consecutive year. It was awarded the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy. The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake claimed second place, and the Quincy Herald-Whig placed third.
In the small daily newspaper category, The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale claimed top honors. The newspaper was awarded the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence. Coming in second for the Coburn Award was the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, followed by The Telegraph in Alton.
In the large, nondaily newspaper category, The MidWeek of DeKalb claimed the Will Loomis Memorial Trophy. Pioneer Press Media Group received second place. The Journal & Topics Media Group received third place.
The Harold and Eva White Memorial Trophy is awarded to a medium-sized nondaily newspaper. The winner this year was The Hinsdalean. Second place went to The Galena Gazette. And in third place was The Journal-News in Hillsboro.
The Woodstock Independent claimed ownership of the David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best small, nondaily newspaper in Illinois. The Oakland Independent received second place. And the third-place award was won by the Bureau County Republican in Princeton.
The Illinois Press Association also named a statewide Editor of the Year and Reporter of the Year for the first time during this convention. The Editor of the Year is Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises. The Reporter of the Year is Katie Smith of Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents approximately 440 daily and weekly newspapers.
CONTACT: RHYS SAUNDERS
Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications
Sept. 10, 2020
For Immediate Release
Candidates for Illinois judicial offices who are running in the November 3 election have been rated by an Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) evaluations committee, or in a poll of lawyers conducted by ISBA.
Results were made available today at www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.
In Cook County, an ISBA Judicial Evaluations committee used the results of a questionnaire, background investigations, and in-person interview to rate candidates for all judicial offices. Candidates for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts outside of Cook County were also evaluated using this method. Ratings based on these judicial evaluations are the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association.
In counties outside of Cook, the ISBA conducted an advisory poll. The advisory poll is sent to all ISBA members in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks election. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA, or any attorney outside the circuit or district, may request a ballot. Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association or the opinion of all Illinois attorneys.
# # #
CONTACT: MONIQUE WHITNEY
July 27, 2020
For Immediate Release
LITTLE ROCK, AR (July 27, 2020) – This fall, Indy Health Insurance Company begins accepting patients for its debut Medicare-D plan, pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Indy Health is offering additional investment opportunities for independent pharmacy owners, pharmacy organizations and other investors until Aug. 29.
Indy Health Insurance Company, domiciled in Arkansas, will operate in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and will begin enrolling patients in those states when Medicare open enrollment begins in October.
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription drug plan option. Indy Health-covered patients may receive their medications from any independent pharmacy in the Indy Health Preferred Pharmacy Network.
"We’re building a pharmacy network on the strength of the 22,000 independently-owned community pharmacies in the U.S.,” said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a plan that empowers the relationship between patients and pharmacists. Pharmacists are patients’ most accessible health care provider. Evidence shows better health outcomes are possible when patients are permitted to see their community pharmacy versus being forced into big box stores or mail order.”
An article in the Journal of American Medicine Network Open newsletter highlights the central role of community pharmacies in patient care. The 3-year study showed older patients see their community pharmacists more frequently than their primary care physicians, providing an opportunity for better patient outcomes when physicians and pharmacists collaborate in the delivery of preventative care and chronic disease management.
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store – an 87% increase from 2017, according to an industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson. In addition, Indy Health Independent Preferred Network members will have better reimbursements, no restrictions to mail and an independent Preferred Specialty Pharmacy Network.
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will ultimately be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned, sustainable entity providing them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system. Please visit IndyHeatlhinc.com to learn more or to explore investment opportunities.
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