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CONVENTION RECAP: Power sessions yield immediate, impactful discussions among colleagues

PowerSessionsHussLea...

Dorothy Leavell (left), editor and publisher of the Crusader Group in Chicago, reacts during a conversation with Kara Demirjian Huss of DCC Marketing, during Huss' power session "Meet The Media Buyer" during the Illinois Press Association/Foundation Convention on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

By ERIN HENKEL
For Illinois Press Association

SPRINGFIELD – A return to an in-person convention this year also meant the return of power sessions.

The roundtable discussions during power sessions last 25 minutes as convention-goers go from table to table to talk with presenters. There were three power sessions during this year’s convention Aug. 11-12 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel. Each included three 25-minute discussions.

There were eight tables during the Thursday morning session, nine on Thursday afternoon and five on Friday morning. Topics ranged from brainstorming new revenue opportunities for weekly newspapers, creating success with events, covering climate change in your community, and addressing news literacy in your nondaily newspaper. Convention-goers were encouraged to attend sessions that best fit their needs and interests.

Rinda Maddox, publisher and owner of the Sidell Reporter, was one of Thursday morning’s presenters. She purchased the nondaily newspaper for $1 in 1991 after having worked there as a typesetter since 1985. Today, the Sidell Reporter covers five communities and annually wins many Illinois Press Association contest awards. Her table’s focus was on generating new revenue ideas to help weekly newspapers.

“I sat down and thought of some of the revenue ideas I’ve had. Probably every one of these ideas came from the same roundtable at a previous year,” Maddox said.

One idea that Maddox presented was a notepad that included a coupon for six free editions of the paper.

“We’ve got to keep our subscriptions up or we lose out and one of the things that we have done is notepads,” she said. “The first page is a coupon for six free papers and when we are at parades or the Strawberry Festival and we have a booth set up, we hand these out. Everyone wants a notepad.”

Free editions of the paper allow consumers to learn what content is being offered and decide if they would like to subscribe.

Maddox estimates that about half of those who are given a notepad subscribe after the free trial period ends.

Sean Finch, sales director for Creative Circle Media, manned another table, leading discussions on sales pro tips.

“In media sales, it’s totally fluid, everything can change at the drop of the hat, so you always have to be aware of the landscape,” Finch said.

Finch also encouraged attendees to learn their clients’ needs and build a relationship with clients.

“it’s not a one-size-fits-all, these are the options I’ve chosen based on our relationship and our conversations on where I really want to pinpoint you and you should take advantage of [these],” Finch said.

 “Once you get to the level where people trust you, it is OK to disturb their complacency. You need to do that …and have the conviction and passion.”

At their table, Jackie Martin and Mark Lukas from The News-Gazette in Champaign discussed creating success with events and customizing a package to fit customers’ needs.

“People have print packages, have radio packages, so we try to make it supplemental or incremental to any current things that they already have,” Lukas said. “Which is why they might want to take out the radio because they already have radio, so we’ll push the package then to digital and print.”

The table also included conversation on how to create events with limited staff and resources. Partnering with other organizations that already have events scheduled is a great way to reduce liability and manage staffing concerns.

“If you have staffing challenges, maybe there is an event out there that you could get a piece of and make it bigger and better for them and make it a revenue generator platform for yourself,” Lukas said. “You bring print and digital and other elements to the table and ask if you can come in to run a certain aspect of it at the fair or at the event that exists, and ‘Can we come in and do this’ and we find that to be a revenue generating platform for us”

Virtual events such as job fairs are also a good tool to use when dealing with limited resources, as they can be a revenue source with less effort than an in-person event.

Bev Sams, director of advertising and marketing with the Daily Journal in Kankakee, focused her session on how to sell advertisers an audience.

“You hear that nobody is reading the newspapers anymore and that is just so far from the truth,” said Sams, who has more than 29 years of experience in newspapers. “It’s really important to know who is reading it, (and) what are your audience numbers. That way you can talk to your customers about it.”

Sams also discussed increasing online page views through content creation and audience analysis through tools such as Google analytics.

“Our team looks at our Google analytics on a daily basis,” she said. “When I first got there I think our page views were around 750,000 so the editor and I worked really hard and we hired a digital person on the newsroom side to do digital content and manage our website. Our goal was to hit 1 million and now we are at almost 1.2 million monthly. We start a lot of our stories online.”

 

PowerSessionsKenCamp...

Ken Campbell, business development manager for AdCellerant, speaks during a power session Thursday, Aug. 11, at the IPA/IPF convention in Springfield. AdCellerant has an advertising technology platform that oversees, manages and enhances clients' digital marketing efforts. Campbell's session was conducted along with IPA Director of Revenue Sandy Pistole and was titled "Selling With Illinois Press Advertising Services." (Photos by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsNowicki

Capitol News Illinois Bureau Chief Jerry Nowicki (right) talks with convention-goers during his power session Thursday afternoon, Aug. 11, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Pictured with Nowicki are Kathy Farren (left), a member of the Illinois Press Foundation Board, and Jerry Whitney, co-owner and publisher of the Carroll County Review and also an IPF Board member. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsMartin

Jackie Martin, sales manager of The News-Gazette in Champaign, talks about Success With Events during a power session Aug. 11 at the Illinois Press Association/Foundation convention in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsMaddox2

Convention-goers look at an example of a notepad with a coupon for 6 free editions that readers of The Sidell Reporter received recently. Rinda Maddox, the paper's owner and publisher, talked about the notepads during a power session Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsHeintze...

Jennifer Heintzelman, publisher of Sauk Valley Media, talks with convention-goers during her power session about Breathing New Life Into Old Ideas on Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsDaveSto...

Dave Storey, senior vice president key accounts from Coda, speaks during a power session at the convention on Aug. 11. Coda is an ROI-driven research and consulting firm. (Photos by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsDennisA...

Dennis Anderson (center), Shaw Media vice president of news & content development, presents his power session "Reader and Revenue Project" on Thursday, Aug. 11. (Photo by Sarah Rogers for Illinois Press Association)

 

PowerSessionsTuckerK...

Tucker Kennedy, communications director for Ameren Illinois, gives a power session on energy prices and availability Aug. 12 during the IPA/IPF convention. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation) 

 

PowerSessionsLarryLo...

Larry Lough, editor of The Woodstock Independent talks with staff members from The Hinsdalean during a power session Aug. 12. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation)

 

PowerSessionsWaterlo...

Madison Lammert, formerly a reporter with the Republic-Times of Waterloo, talks to convention-goers along with Editor Corey Saathoff (left) about a reporting project she and the newspaper did about news literacy. Lammert, now a Report For America reporter at a Wisconsin newspaper, returned to the convention to present power sessions on Aug. 12. (Photo by Jeff Rogers of Illinois Press Foundation)

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2024

Contact Information:
Jann Ingmire
(312) 520-9802
communications@isms.org
 

Lake County physician sworn in as president of Illinois State Medical Society
 

CHICAGO – Piyush I. Vyas, M.D., was sworn in as president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) during its recent annual meeting. He was previously elected president-elect in 2023.

Dr. Vyas received his medical degree from MS University of Baroda in Baroda, India, and completed his radiology residency at Cook County Hospital. 

Dr. Vyas is board-certified in diagnostic radiology. Since 2004, he has been an attending physician at Lovell Federal Health Care Center, where he served as chief of radiology and nuclear medicine until 2018. Since 2018, he has been the associate director, Clinical Support Services. He was also assistant professor of radiology with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science from 2005 to 2016 and served as vice chairman of radiology from 2012 to 2016. Currently he is an associate professor of radiology at Rosalind Franklin and actively involved in teaching medical students. He is also a valued member of the admissions committee at the university. 

He has been an ISMS member for 40 years and has served for many years as an ISMS alternate delegate and delegate to the AMA, as well as a past trustee and chair of the ISMS Governmental Affairs Council. Dr. Vyas served as president of the Lake County Medical Society for two separate terms and served on multiple committees, at the county and state level. He is also a past president of the Indian American Medical Association.

Dr. Vyas’ term as ISMS president will run through April 2025. 
 

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Founded in 1840, ISMS is a professional membership association representing Illinois physicians in all medical specialties, and their patients, statewide.  



 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2024

Contact Information:
K. Eric Larson
(847) 997-2109
elarson@eyso.org
 

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras to premiere new compositions at Terra metallicum on Saturday, April 13
 

ELGIN, Illinois. (April 11, 2024) – Wanees Zarour, a renowned performer, educator, and expert in Middle Eastern music, will join the award-winning Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras (EYSO) as guest artist for a genre-bending evening of musical collaboration and performance at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the Auditorium at South Elgin High School at 760 E Main St, South Elgin.

EYSO’s flagship Youth Symphony and its Brass Choir will perform with Zarour, who has been working with EYSO student musicians in rehearsals this past month, and through a masterclass at the high school earlier in the day. They will premiere two new compositions at this concert.

Zarour is an award winning Palestinian-American composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist steeped in maqam and jazz music. His compositional and arranging styles transcend borders and draw from traditions spanning the entire globe. 

For millennia, the complex and rich relationships between the natural world and humankind have captivated scholars, scientists, philosophers, and artists. Fruitful and fraught, timeless, and fragile, these relationships inspire a tremendous spectrum of artistic expressions that imitate, investigate, and emulate the interconnected worlds of nature and humanity. In EYSO's 48th season, explore how sound reflects the natural and built worlds around us — and how the two are united through music.

To see a more complete list of performances or for tickets, go to www.eyso.org/concert. In addition to traditional in-person seating, tickets are available to experience the concerts via live streaming.

About EYSO
The mission of EYSO is to create a community of young musicians, enriching their lives and the lives of their families, schools, communities and beyond, through the study and performance of excellent music.

EYSO serves students from 70 Chicagoland communities and has a national reputation for providing students with an engaging musical experience and a comprehensive learning environment of curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and collaboration. Students explore a thematic curriculum each season — one that helps students develop artistically and technically, and prepares them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizens. This approach has led hundreds of alumni to successful careers as professional musicians, educators, and strong leaders in every field. The theme of EYSO’s 48th season is GAIA through which students explore how sound reflects the natural and built worlds around us—and how the two are united through music. 

EYSO is accepting applications to audition for the 2024-25 season at www.eyso.org

To learn more about EYSO, visit www.eyso.org or call (847) 841-7700.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2024

Contact Information:
Monique Whitney
(505) 480-4150
email: monique@truthrx.org greynolds@ipha.org
 

Illinois pharmacists rally at State Capitol to end prescription drug middlemen patient steering, support increased state oversight

Community pharmacists call attention to increasing prescription drug costs, decreased access to care and emerging pharmacy deserts correlated to pharmacy benefit manager practices.

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL (March 5, 2024) – Illinois pharmacists will gather at the State Capitol today to rally in support of HB 4548 and SB 2790, proposed legislation which would eliminate controversial practices by prescription drug middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs. The rally is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. and will be held near the Lincoln statue, located at the east end of the State Capitol and will include brief remarks by bill sponsors and constituents negatively impacted by PBM prescription drug pricing practices.

If enacted, HB 4548, sponsored by Rep. Jones, would protect patients’ right to receive prescription medication from the pharmacy of their choice, banning the lucrative PBM practice of “steering” patients to PBM-owned or affiliated pharmacies or mandatory mail order. Sen. Koehler’s SB 2790 would empower the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services with greater oversight of PBM contracts; monitoring of payments made to PBMs and pharmacies; and ensuring PBM rebates negotiated on behalf of HFS are fully paid to HFS.

“We applaud Representative Jones, Senator Koehler and the many members of our state legislature who are championing these critical measures that would protect the state’s patients and pharmacy providers,” said Illinois Pharmacists Association President Rupesh Manek, RPh, pharmacist and Rochelle-based pharmacy owner. “The proposed legislation is evidence of a responsible governing body aware of the pitfalls that come with overpaying pharmacy benefit managers for services that should be provided in the interest of fiscal responsibility, not overcompensating shareholders.”

Last May, Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino released the results of a Performance Audit of Pharmacy Benefit Managers, finding the state’s Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) department did not have complete copies of the contracts between managed care organizations and PBMs necessary to conduct monitoring of contract provisions, or between PBMs and pharmacies to be able verify accuracy or rate of reimbursement to pharmacies. The result of passage of SR 792 in 2022, the Performance Audit of the Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) PBMs identified over $200 million over 2 years in spread pricing overbilling to the MMC prescription program.

Anne Cassity, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said “NCPA commends the Office of the Auditor General for its diligence in revealing gross overpayment to PBMs in Illinois’ Managed Medicaid program. Sadly, Illinois is joining numerous other states in recognizing how PBMs harm both the patients and payers – both public and commercial – they purport to serve. We urge Illinois to join the ranks of states who have established comprehensive PBM regulation with strong enforcement provisions to ensure patient access to pharmacy services at their neighborhood community pharmacy.”

PBMs manage patients’ prescription drug benefit, acting as the liaison between the patient, the pharmacy, and the patient’s employer or health plan sponsor. Since 2019, numerous studies have uncovered evidence of PBMs practices that result in endpayers paying significantly more for patients’ prescription medication than the patient’s pharmacy was reimbursed (a practice called “spread pricing”); and patients “steered” away from their pharmacy of choice to PBM-owned/affiliated pharmacies. Additional studies have shown the drug manufacturer rebates PBMs negotiate increase a drug’s list price year over year, causing patients to pay more out of pocket because of rebate-inflated costs. For more information on the rally or how PBM practices are affecting Illinois patients and taxpayers, contact Illinois Pharmacists Association at IPhA.org. Learn more about NCPA, the country’s largest organization of independent pharmacy owners, at NCPA.org. To understand how PBM practices affect patient care and affordability of medication for consumers and end payers, visit PUTT’s website at TruthRx.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4, 2024

Contact Information:
William Nissen, publisher of the elderparole.org website
(312) 882-6338
email: wmjnissen@gmail.com
website: https://www.elderparole.org/
 

Advocates to deliver letters of support for elder parole bill, HB 2045, to governor, lieutenant governor, and legislative leaders in Springfield on March 6, 2024
 

CHICAGO (March 4, 2024) - Advocates for the passage of HB 2045, which would establish an elder parole process in Illinois, plan to hand deliver more than 900 signed letters of support for the bill to the Springfield offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and legislative leaders on March 6, 2024.

The elder parole bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-27th), would provide a parole process for approximately 1,000 people in Illinois prisons who are aged 55 years or older and have served at least 25 years.

The letters come from people across the State of Illinois and beyond, including people incarcerated in Illinois prisons. Most of the letters make the following points in support of enactment of the bill:

• The Illinois prison population has been steadily aging.

• Older inmates are often sick and infirm.

• Illinois is not providing the medical care that is needed by these aging inmates.

• A court-appointed monitor has identified elder abuse in Illinois prisons where preventable deaths have occurred due to the state’s failure to provide proper medical care.

• The medical care that is being provided is very costly to the state and the cost will only worsen as more inmates age.

• The Joe Coleman Medical Release Act is not solving the problem because too few people are sick enough to qualify and many of those who qualify are being denied release.

• Many older inmates have maintained close ties to their friends and families, who will support them in transitioning to life outside prison.

Under the bill, no one would be entitled to release, but rather eligible people would be given the opportunity to present their individual circumstances to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and request release.

The bill requires the board to decide whether to grant parole based on several considerations, including rehabilitation, character references, participation in educational and work programs, and criminal and disciplinary history. The bill also provides that victims’ families would be notified and given the opportunity to participate in the parole hearing.

In 1978, Illinois abolished discretionary parole for those sentenced on or after Feb. 1, 1978. Since then, the growth in the prison population has far outpaced the increase in the state’s general population, and the percentage of the prison population 55 years or older has also increased significantly.

Dr. John Raba, the former medical director of Cermak Health Services, which provides health care at the Cook County Jail, is the court-appointed monitor in a class action where state officials have entered into a consent decree requiring that adequate medical care be provided in Illinois prisons. Dr. Raba has reported that the state is not meeting the needs of older prisoners and does not have the resources to provide such care.

According to Dr. Raba’s reports, the inadequate health care is resulting in elder abuse and avoidable deaths. Dr. Raba has recommended that a pathway to early release of prisoners be established. This bill would establish a reasonable pathway.

Rep. Slaughter has explained the need for this bill as follows: “This bill would establish a much needed mechanism for considering on an individual basis whether there is no longer any public interest to be served by continuing to imprison an individual who has aged and served significant time, because the individual has become rehabilitated, is not a threat to public safety, and neither the public nor the individual would benefit from that individual’s continued imprisonment. The
people covered by the bill are the least likely to re-offend and the most expensive to care for, given medical expenses and end-of-life care.”

Here are links to the text of most of the letters to be delivered and to a fact sheet for the bill:

Text of letter supporting enactment of HB 2045: https://bit.ly/3sd6aE9

Fact sheet for HB 2045: https://bit.ly/3P5jvph

 
 
 
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