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‘It’s gonna be a while before we go back’

COVIDNewsroomIntelli...

Sports Editor Matt Kamp sits alone in the Intelligencer newsroom in downtown Edwardsville as he finishes a feature story on a local high school cross country runner. In practicing precaution, the newsroom has not been actively occupied since mid-March due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo credit: Tyler Pletsch)

Newspaper leaders face facts, stick with similar COVID-19 protocols

By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – While newsrooms around the state might vary in the degree of their vigilance during the pandemic, all but one of the 10 newspapers that responded to a survey from the Illinois Press Association share a common, comforting thread: no positive COVID-19 cases among their staffers.

“We’ve been very blessed and very thankful,” said John Lampinen, senior vice president and editor of the Daily Herald.

There’s something to be said for making your own blessings. Whereas some newspapers have allowed reporters in the office, and some editors regularly work from the office, Daily Herald staffers are barred from the newsroom.

Lampinen, who joined the Daily Herald in the 1970s and has spent all but one of his years in the industry there, has set foot in the office only to retrieve items he absolutely needs. His first visit after Gov. JB Pritzker issued his March 20 stay-at-home order was eerie.

“It was kind of a weird feeling, and of course you add heightened tension to the chances the virus was out there,” he said. “If you ran into somebody you were almost spooked by it, wondering whether they had it.”

Lampinen said reporters need to keep up that mentality, to some degree.

“We operate as though anyone we encounter could be infected,” he said. “The health and safety of our staff takes precedence over anything else.”

Half an hour’s drive away – without traffic – the Chicago Tribune office has remained open, “but we have always encouraged people to [work from home] if they could,” Chicago Tribune Editor-in-Chief Colin McMahon wrote in his survey response, adding that the majority of the newsroom is working full-time from home.

“Anywhere from a handful of journalists to a dozen or so are in the office on any random day,” he continued. “We have protocols about socially distancing, mask-wearing and other precautions.”

Every newsroom’s circumstances are different, of course.

Weekly newspapers’ employees have almost universally continued reporting to the office, given their shoestring staffs, some of them boasting a solitary full-timer. In Jo Daviess County, where the 7-day rolling COVID-19 positive rate has hovered around 10 percent, the celebrated Galena Gazette experienced an outbreak in early October. Editor Hillary Dickerson and her husband Jay Dickerson – also the paper’s sales director – tested positive along with four co-workers. They’ve since recovered.

Whereas the rolling positivity rate was 7.1 percent through Oct. 17 in Cook County, it was 12.7 percent in Winnebago County, home to the Rockford Register Star, and 12.4 percent in Stephenson County, home to the Freeport Journal-Standard.

As a result, Mark Baldwin, executive director of both Gannett papers, has enforced a water-tight policy prohibiting staff from working at the office. He popped in for about half an hour one day in mid-October to pick up the snail mail, the first time he’d been there in about a month. He said the only other exceptions have been for tech issues.

“We’ve been relentless about keeping people safe,” he said. “There’s been no pressure on them to do anything but work from the house.”

Reporters from Block Club, a nonprofit that puts a hyper-local emphasis on coverage of Chicago’s unique, diverse neighborhoods, already predominantly worked remotely before the pandemic. Co-founder Shamus Toomey said reporters might be in the office once or twice a month.

They’re in there far less frequently now, although co-founders have popped in to grab needed supplies from the space they share with six other companies.

“We take turns collecting mail and sending it to each other – and watering plants,” Toomey said.

Many common-sense policies and safety practices are shared by every newspaper that responded to the survey. Reporters and photographers alike are required to wear masks in the field and maintain social distancing whenever possible. They’re advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after each interview or assignment.

“They also know that if they’re ever in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable about their safety, their health comes first, that it is more important than any individual assignment,” Lampinen said. “We talk about this a lot, and I can’t say enough about how proud and impressed I have been by the staff’s ability to turn on a dime in how we report the news in this new environment. They are such incredible people.”

 

 

Some policies less stringent

Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises and the IPA’s 2019 editor of the year, can be found by a reporter or two, or photographers, a day or two each week in his office at The Pantagraph in Bloomington or his office at Decatur's Herald & Review.

He otherwise works remotely, but said he goes in occasionally “to make sure the newspaper’s OK and check in with things.”

He said photographers often work in the office, as well as reporters “if they need to file and they’re close to the building.”

Anyone entering the building must wear a mask and perform a self-assessment. Same goes for reporters at the Edwardsville Intelligencer who are covering events downtown, “a few yards from the office,” as Editor Brittany Johnson described it. She cited a Black Lives Matter protest the weekend of Oct. 17 as an example. She said there’s never more than two reporters in the office at any time, and that desks are set up at least 6 feet apart.

The Belleville News-Democrat, about 25 miles away, has a similar policy – no more than two in the office at a time, masks required, and reporters should be in the office only if they’re covering live events.

“They also are asked to maintain distance and disinfect the areas they use,” Senior Editor Todd Eschman said.

The BND team is living through particularly unique circumstances, having sold its Civil War-era building earlier this year with plans to move into its new, right-sized office a couple of blocks to the north.

“There was some anticipated upheaval even before the pandemic hit, and so we had a plan to move people and work remotely temporarily in the interim,” he said. “This has gone on much, much longer than we anticipated, of course, but I think that planning was an advantage.”

Then any prospects of anyone working the building came to a screeching halt when a frequent letter-writer on Oct. 16 made a threat to blow up the new building using fertilizer and dynamite, a threat Eschman described as “credible.” He said the office will be closed for the foreseeable future.

 

Gauging reporters’ comfort level

Both Johnson and Eschman emphasized checking in with reporters before and after their assignments to make sure they’re comfortable with where they’re going and where they’ve just been.

“Outside the newsroom, we're very careful about where we send reporters and are sensitive and accommodating to their individual concerns,” Eschman wrote in the survey. “We're going to BLM demonstrations, for example, but making arrangements to speak to organizers in advance and/or away from the crowds while observing from safer distances. If a reporter is uncomfortable with the size of the crowd or feels their space is being encroached, we encourage them to act on their personal judgement and sense of well-being.”

Baldwin is all too familiar with protest coverage in Rockford, “a city fraught with racial tension,” in his words. He’s grateful to Gannett for providing all the safety gear reporters and photographers need.

“We’ve covered the protests very, very intensely,” Baldwin said. “We made darn sure of two things: Don’t put yourself in danger, or get yourself between protestors and police. But also make darn sure you’re wearing your mask, that you’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer available, and everything else you might need.”

When President Donald Trump held a rally Oct. 17 with little to no social distancing a short drive from Rockford in Janesville, Wisconsin, Baldwin ultimately left it up to his reporter and photographer as to whether they’d cover the event in person.

“I’m not going to send you in harm’s way,” he said.

The reporter opted to insert content from a sister paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, into his story, while the photog covered the event in person.

“He very much wanted to go, and from a business standpoint, it made more sense for him to go. A gallery from a Trump rally was going to get more traffic than the text would,” Baldwin said.

 

‘We need to check in on each other as humans’

Several of the editors expressed in the survey and in interviews that among the opportunities to be seized amid the dramatic changes this year is a renewed focus on mental health. Any editor worth his salt is aware journalists will work hours they’re not clocking if somebody doesn’t stop them.

“We’ve been very, very strict with making sure people aren’t clocking in at crazy times,” Coates said. “Regular check-ins are really important.”

A certain level of attention to detail, if not perfectionism, is OK, Lampinen said. But there’s a line.

“Some reporters have to fight the temptation to return after hours to check the computer to touch up a story or get a head start on tomorrow or see what more they can do. Some of that’s probably natural and OK, but a lot of it can become debilitating.”

“Working remotely has made it particularly different for managers to separate their work life from their home life,” Baldwin said. “I’ve ordered people to take a day off. This job is mentally taxing. You’re not going to do anybody any good if you’re exhausted.”

Paying close attention to staff during video meetings and monitoring when people are logged in, active on email and clocking in and out can go a long way in protecting journalists from themselves.

“I can usually tell if something’s going off the rails, and reel it in,” Coates said.

Johnson said she’s re-examined her decision-making when assigning stories for the Intelligencer.

“The world is not going to wait,” she said. “There are people out there who are going to do what they think is best – whether it’s wearing a mask or not, social distancing or not. So we have to decide as a newsroom, when there’s an event, whether we cover that event or deliver that news.”

She said it’s crucial to take time away from the regular grind to ask reporters how they’re doing.

“The health and safety of our reporters is paramount,” Johnson said. “That’s not only physical, but it’s mental. It’s important to check in with the reporter afterward – not only how the assignment went, but how [they] feel.

“We need to check in on each other as humans, like you would with a friend.”

Lampinen said it’s more important than ever to tell staff they’re doing good work.

“Touching base, recognizing good work, giving staff members a respite from time to time, these always are important in a work situation,” Lampinen said. “They’ve become even more important in the isolated work situation the pandemic has created.”

Both Johnson and Lampinen said a newsroom can be energized simply by acknowledging the impact of the work it’s doing.

“We have to remember what we’re doing: educating the community,” Johnson said. “That invigorates us.”

“We’re reporting history,” Lampinen said. “The vast majority of people on our staff appreciate that we’re reporting for the greater good and helping the audience understand their risks and how we can mitigate their risks, and the politics that have developed.”

 

What’s been lost

Nearly all respondents to the survey agreed on the biggest thing journalists have lost while working remotely: each other.

“Even though I think a lot of us are introverts – that’s why we’re in a position to ask all the questions and have others answer – we like being part of the team and succeeding together,” he said. “The people who do this work are incredibly smart, incredibly passionate, and incredibly funny. We’re missing that.”

Every editor knows that bittersweet moment when a reporter ducks into his or her office while the editor is trying to edit a story or crunch budget numbers. Eschman misses being interrupted in the BND office.

“The ideas that arise from spur-of-the-moment conversation and reactions to live events is missing,” he said. “There is simply no replacement for the daily, live contact with colleagues in a newsroom, not just for communication, but for maintaining energy and enthusiasm.”

McMahon remarked on how many breakthroughs would typically happen immediately after an in-person staff meeting at the Tribune.

“The afterglow of a meeting is often where a lot of important work gets done as people follow up on what was said at the meeting,” he said. “That is gone. Cracks don’t get filled in.”

“Without working in a newsroom, the cross-pollination of ideas is hard to recreate,” Toomey said. “We try via Zoom and Slack, but it’s not the same.”

In terms of reporting, Lampinen said it’s hard enough to hold Chicago officials’ feet to the fire in person, let alone remotely.

“Frankly, [it’s] harder to monitor governments as closely as our watchdog obligations require,” Lampinen said. “How do we deal with those challenges?  There’s no magic. We try to make sure we recognize the pitfalls and we try to work harder to overcome them.”

Not being able to see a source’s face can make it difficult to capture emotion and convey it in a story. It can also limit a reporter’s agility in an interview.

“Reporting via phone, video conference, email, etc. impacts access, flavor, and photography, too,” Toomey wrote in his response.

 

What’s been gained

Coates said audiences have, however, become accustomed to getting their information, getting to know sources, and hearing stories via a video interview. That’s the case whether they’re watching a national network or a video interview the Bloomington Pantagraph posts on its website or pushes on social media.

“The weird discovery of this whole thing is that video conferencing has become the de facto way we handle our lives,” he said. “It’s opened up a whole new world to us, with the way we communicate, and the way we report. We’ve discovered we can be equally nimble.”

He said the newsroom’s decision-making process is more transparent.

“In some ways we communicate better with Google docs and Zoom meetings,” he said. “Our 2 p.m. meetings used to be independent huddles.”

Eschman said working remotely has exposed News-Democrat reporters’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Who can work independently, who can't, who will step up and lead, who needs a hand to hold?” he said.

“That's powerful information. Generally, the drudgery of pandemic coverage has really focused our reporters to high utility, reader-driven topics. We're doing some of our best explanatory journalism at the moment.”

Working from home and covering virtual meetings have also given newsrooms a logistic boost. No one misses grinding their teeth while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic first thing in the morning.

“The cut in commute time is a big benefit for people personally, and our experience suggests that it not only helps everyone’s mood but it has helped increase productivity, too,” Lampinen said.

Toomey said his reporters can now cover multiple meetings, in multiple neighborhoods Block Club covers, in the same night. But there’s a caveat.

“Access to public officials at these meetings is obviously slashed, so post-meeting follow-up questions are much tougher,” he said.

Johnson said the pandemic has provided an opportunity for journalists to “pull back the curtain” and connect with the greater Edwardsville community that’s going through the same things, being stuck indoors and facing social isolation.

Because Daily Herald readers are stuck at home, Lampinen said his staff has been hearing from them more often.

“That’s a huge benefit, one that helps strengthen our coverage but also our engagement with our readers,” he said. “I think that engagement is stronger now than ever. And we want to find ways to make that continue even after the pandemic fades.”

 

What’s on the horizon

Psychologists, propped up by experts’ predictions of another increase in deaths involving COVID-19 by year’s end, have warned we’re approaching a “long, dark winter,” in the words of Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

As a result, no one who responded to the survey is entertaining the thought of staff returning to the newsroom this year. Some companies have established Jan. 1, 2021, as when they’ll re-evaluate the feasibility of a return.

The Chicago Tribune has “no plans for a formal return to work process until some time in 2021,” McMahon wrote.

“It’s not any safer to be working together now than it was in March,” Toomey said.

In late-summer, Gannett laid out guidelines on when staff could safely return to the office. In a companywide editors call Oct. 23, it was made clear “any return to the office is going to be voluntary,” Baldwin said.

Despite journalists’ ingrained practice of going toward danger in order to describe it and warn readers not to, Baldwin said the fact that no one in his shop has tested positive speaks to reporters’ prudent decisions and attention to safety.

“Let’s face it: We as news people live in a world of facts, information, and truths,” Baldwin said. “We’re not deniers. We believe the data and science. It stands to reason that news folks would take the necessary precautions.”

With the convergence of the again-surging pandemic and cold and flu season, Baldwin said the quiet part out loud.

“It’s gonna be a while before we go back.”

 

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Press Releases

 

 

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
alison@ilprincipals.org

217-241-0595


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.


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Tuscola author publishes book
of award-winning columns  


Nov. 12, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: David Porter
presseditor1@gmail.com

217-991-0935 or
618-713-4230


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 presseditor1@gmail.com. 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)

 

 

Harvest safety reminder:
Always be on the lookout
for farm equipment on the roads



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)


 

 
 
 

 

Commentary: Historical monuments, memorials, and statutes
should reflect our finest values


CONTACT: WILLIAM FURRY
Executive Director
5255 Shepherd Road
Springfield, IL 62703

executivedirector@historyillinois.org
(217) 525-2518
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

# # #


 

Illinois Principals Association encourages principal appreciation
in October


CONTACT: ALISON MALEY
Government and Public Relations Director
alison@ilprincipals.org
(217) 525-1383
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
 

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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.

 

# # #


Illinois judicial candidates rated in Illinois State Bar Association
lawyers' poll and evaluations


CONTACT: RHYS SAUNDERS
Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications
rsaunders@isba.org
(217) 747-1433
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.

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The Illinois State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of 29,000 members that provides professional services to Illinois lawyers and education and services to the public. For more information, visit www.isba.org.
 


 

Indy Health Insurance Company seeking investor partners


CONTACT: MONIQUE WHITNEY
Monique@TruthRx.org
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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