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Yazmin Dominguez checks out a copy of the Chicago Reader newspaper at the publication's office in Chicago. Dominguez, 24, is project coordinator for the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, a coalition formed to help the independent local news organizations. (Photo supplied)
By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association
CHICAGO – Yazmin Dominguez is digging up weeds.
The 24-year-old media partnerships coordinator at the Chicago Reader recently took on the role of projects coordinator for the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, which is facilitated by The Reader and recently raised more than $160,000 for 43 of its 62 members.
The influx of funds will help offset massive losses in advertising revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dominguez is going after deeper-rooted issues with journalism and media.
“We as young journalists are passionate about dismantling all the wrongs in the media,” Dominguez said. “I’ll say that for all young journalists. We’re aware of the issues, and we’re going to fix them.”
Dominguez said that for as long as she can remember, she’s been aware of the struggles of journalists – particularly those in marginalized communities, which make up much of the alliance members’ readerships.
“As a young journalist, I think we grew up in an era, starting in 2001, when things started falling apart,” she said. “The media industry is no exception of that. I am a child of immigrants. Going into journalism with that background, you see the industry differently. You see the power of words and the power of publishing.”
As a teenager, Dominguez would leave Huntley High School every day to make it on time for newsroom meetings at The Mash, Chicago Tribune’s teen newspaper. While attending DePaul University, she was a reporting fellow for City Bureau and worked as an intern for Chicago Tonight, where she was hired part-time to work on an aldermanic project – which involved bringing aldermen into the WTTW studio and working on production and online.
It was around that time she heard The Mash had closed.
“Being in Chicago, which has a very lively and active media scene, watching these newsrooms shut down was what made me realize the system is broken,” she said. “[The Mash] was one of the first things to go from the Tribune. That hit me a little different, because that’s where I started as a young reporter.”
As Dominguez begins to unearth the weeds of the industry, she’s going for the roots. She said she’s angry, and that most young journalists are. But that anger can be turned into results.
“We need to fix the roots of the issues to have success down the line,” she said.
During a recent phone interview, she had an unprompted list of issues at the ready – beyond the oft-cited rise of armchair digital journalism and the crash of advertising revenue industrywide.
CIMA recently polled its members on various topics. Of the 48 outlets that responded, 56 percent are unable to offer insurance to their full-time staff. Of 49 respondents, about 86 percent can’t offer insurance to part-timers and freelancers.
That’s not acceptable for a line of work where journalists regularly put themselves in harm’s way in order to inform their readers on how to stay safe.
“That’s really not OK,” Dominguez said. “Them not being able to have insurance or be employed full-time. Some media companies can’t even afford a physical building.”
About one-third of 50 respondents said they don’t have a physical office.
Dominguez said with help on the local, state and federal levels, media outlets would be able to hire more full-time staff and rely less on part-timers and freelancers.
“There just needs to be more funding in the industry,” she said. “The City of Chicago needs to work more with local media.”
Every day, she looks at the CTA ads promoting events, the CTA itself, the U.S. Census, and she wonders, “What if?”
“Why not do an ad buy with a bunch of local media outlets?” she said. “Certain bodies of government haven’t utilized the sort of potential the media has. I think that speaks to the disconnect between the city and its local communities.”
She said there’s strength in numbers, particularly if you bring together dozens of like-minded outlets that are hungry for change and willing to get elected officials’ attention.
“That’s the mindset the alliance has, and it was created in that mindset,” she said.
Mistreatment of the Muslim community after 9/11 wasn’t reserved for run-of-the-mill American citizens. Dominguez said racism abounded in media coverage after the Twin Towers fell.
“Coverage of Katrina also painted the local community in a … not-so-good light,” she said. “Moments like that, young people notice and become disenfranchised. If you’re a young person in the media, you’re passionate for it. Moments like that affect your psyche as a young journalist.”
Dominguez decried editors’ practice of carefully selecting which pictures to publish – which ones capture the demographic they’re after and, in turn, generate the most clicks.
She said she’s optimistic that an influx of young journalists can stem the tide of tired, often misguided thinking.
“People who have been in legacy newsrooms are a bit old-school,” she said. “They’ve been in their position for decades. It can hurt the organization you’re trying to help, and more importantly the community you’re trying to serve. There’s a young crowd of journalists that are hungry and angry, and ready to change how reporting on their communities is done.”
The larger the media outlet, the harder it is to cover communities that are directly affected, Dominguez said.
“It’s the role of local media to fill the information gaps that larger media outlets can’t,” Dominguez said. “It’s glaringly obvious that communities of color are so affected compared to white, wealthy communities.”
Jesus Del Toro, director general of La Raza Newspaper, said the funds raised by CIMA point to an opportunity aching to be seized.
“Those who donated money, it’s an expression of the support of the community,” he said.
His readership still picks up the physical paper and relies on what’s inside of it.
“The Latinx community in Chicago still relies heavily on the print publication,” he said.
Dominguez is heartened to have a new member of the alliance that will also serve a marginalized community. The Cicero Independiente, fiscally supported by City Bureau, was created about a year ago by three young Latinx people, and it joined the alliance 2 months ago. Dominguez said Cicero has gotten a bad rap because of coverage that too often focuses on violence and crime, rather than the rich Hispanic heritage of the community.
Del Toro said local media collaboration has been attempted in Chicago, and has failed.
CIMA is different, he said.
“For the first time in this collaboration of media, we were fortunate to have one specific person doing the coordination of this effort,” he said of Dominguez. “Each of us, all the media and members of this group, have a lot of different interests and content, and problems, and level of resources. One big obstacle through collaboration is coordination. She was a big part of this success. What she provided was the glue we need to have in order to move, and to grow.”
Charlie Meyerson, who’s worked in the Chicago market for more than 40 years, whether in radio, print, or his recently launched independent news site, Chicago Public Square, signed on with CIMA and was blown away by the 24-year-old who accepted nitpicking with a smile.
“People who have worked with me over the decades have learned that I’m the squeaky wheel – this needs to be fixed, or that needs to be reworded,” he said. “She took it all in stride.”
Dominguez said the feedback was invaluable.
“It’s definitely a good problem to have, that we’ve found out people aren’t shy about offering us feedback,” she said. “That external suggestion box has been very helpful.”
Meyerson said a lot of organizations will ask for feedback, then bristle at constructive criticism.
“I can’t remember once being told to tone it down,” he said. “They accepted feedback and acted on it. When they didn’t have the resources to do something, they were forthright.”
This all comes as little surprise for Tracy Baim, longtime Chicago media touchstone and owner of the nearly half-century-old Reader. She saw star power in Dominguez when she interviewed her about a year ago – when the ink had barely dried on the journalism degree Dominguez earned at DePaul.
“She really hit the ground running,” Baim said. “She has a fantastic personality, she’s hard-working and knows the need for journalism. It’s rare to have someone with all her qualities.
“She understands our job here is to save jobs of journalists.”
Yazmin Dominguez works from the Chicago Reader office. (Photo supplied)
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Illinois State Bar Association announces
Rural Practice Fellowship Program fellows
May 6, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rhys Saunders, senior manager of communications
Editors: Please note local interest.
The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) is pleased to announce the names of the 14 Fellows selected to participate in the 2021 Rural Practice Fellowship Program, which is designed to meet the critical need of providing access to justice for those living in rural areas with a declining lawyer population.
“We were extremely pleased with the overwhelming response to this program from throughout the state of Illinois,” said ISBA President Dennis J. Orsey. “The demand far exceeded our first-year expectations.”
The ISBA Special Committee on the Rural Practice Initiative created two fellowship programs to address the issue.
The Rural Practice Summer Fellows Program connects law students with rural practitioners to give them experience working in rural communities before they leave law school. The program includes a $5,000 fellowship stipend and mentoring.
The Rural Practice Associate Fellows Program places graduating law students and new attorneys as permanent associates with rural practitioners. The program includes a $5,000 stipend at the beginning of employment, and an additional $5,000 stipend if the associate is still working for the same firm after one year.
2021 Summer Fellows:
Fellow: Jacquelin Pulak (Northern Illinois University College of Law)
Firm: Berger Law Firm, LLC, Byron, Illinois (Ogle County)
Fellow: Alex Pullen (University of Illinois College of Law)
Firm: McGrath Law Office, P.C., Mackinaw, Illinois (Tazewell County)
Fellow: Emily Wiedeman (Loyola University Chicago School of Law)
Firm: Heller, Holmes & Associates, P.C., Mattoon, Illinois (Coles County)
Fellow: Avery Lubbes (Saint Louis University School of Law)
Firm: Stumpf & Gutknecht, P.C., Columbia, Illinois (Monroe County)
2021 Associate Fellows:
Fellow: Paul Loss Dunham (University of Illinois)
Firm: Becker Law Office, Genoa, Illinois (DeKalb County)
Fellow: Glenn Hoskin (Loyola University Chicago)
Firm: Tobin & Ramon, Belvidere, Illinois (Boone County)
Fellow: Tristyn Criswell (Northern Illinois University)
Firm: The Cosentino Law Firm, St. Charles, Illinois (DeKalb County)
Fellow: Staci Vazquez (Northern Illinois University)
Firm: Malmquist, Geiger & Durkee LLC, Morris, Illinois (Grundy County)
Fellow: Elizabeth Reynolds (Southern Illinois University)
Firm: Jacob J. Frost, Attorney at Law, Spring Valley, Illinois (Bureau County)
Fellow: Tiffany Ketchum (Southern Illinois University)
Firm: Vawter Law Ltd., Macomb, Illinois (McDonough County)
Fellow: Megan Ryan (University of Mississippi)
Firm: Rammelkamp Bradney, P.C., Jacksonville, Illinois (Morgan County)
Fellow: Jacob Schlosser (Saint Louis University)
Firm: Woods & Bates, P.C., Lincoln, Illinois (Logan County)
Fellow: Edward Siemer (Saint Louis University)
Firm: McDevitt, Osteen, Chojnicki & Deters, LLC, Effingham, Illinois (Effingham County)
Fellow: Parker Louis Seely (Saint Louis University)
Firm: Bigham, Tanner & Foster, Pinckneyville, Illinois (Perry County)
# # #
Serving people with disabilities in Illinois
April 27, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: John Herring, executive director, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living
101 W. Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, IL 62701
Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living is a network of people with various disabilities who connect statewide. The 22 Centers for Independent Living that make up INCIL share information, skills and experiences. While supporting each other, barriers to inclusion are removed and Independence achieved. People acquire methods to remain in their home and many financially trapped in nursing facilities are freed.
INCIL has been connecting people who have disabilities statewide since 1995. It is the hub for Independent Living services, while monitoring and educating our state about disability issues. All these organizations are “consumer controlled” run by and for people with disabilities. Each center is responsive to their communities’ needs and INCIL brings people together in this network of cross disability purpose with strength from unity. For more information call 217-525-1308 or go to INCIL.org.
Alliance For Climate Education launches
billboard campaign to grow support for passing
the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA)
April 21, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Leah Qusba, executive director, Alliance For Climate Education (ACE)
CHICAGO – This week, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is launching a billboard campaign to create awareness about the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) and mobilize Illinoisans to take action to demand that the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker pass CEJA in 2021. As we face the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change driven by fossil fuel consumption, it is a critical moment to pass CEJA to help Illinois get positioned for the renewable energy revolution and to bring thousands of clean jobs to Illinois residents.
ACE’s mix of digital and vinyl billboards have been placed in prominent neighborhood and highway locations in the Chicago and Springfield areas, encouraging passersby to take action by going to: PassCEJA.com or “Text CEJA to 42108”. A total of 11 billboards – seven billboards in the Chicago area and four in Springfield – are now viewable.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is a comprehensive climate and energy bill that centers on equity and puts Illinois on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Here’s how passing CEJA will make Illinois a leader in the just transition to renewable energy:
● Creates a path for 100% renewable energy in IL (17,000 MW solar/6,300 MW wind)
● Directs resources and support to BIPOC energy sector workers and contractors
● Invests $2B in clean energy for BIPOC, low income,and environmental justice communities
● Provides $50M/yr in rate relief to low-income consumers
● Puts Illinoisans to work building and maintaining clean energy infrastructure
● Saves consumers $700M/yr through expansions of electric and gas energy efficiency programs
● Supports electrifying the equivalent of 1.2M vehicles by 2030 including public transit & fleets
● Provides electric vehicle (EV) rebates and EV access for low-income communities
● Makes utility profits contingent upon making the grid more affordable, clean, and equitable
The billboards will be visible through the month of April and into early May, mobilizing support for passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) while April “Earth Day” month brings our public attention to the climate crisis and opportunities for taking action to ensure a livable planet for generations to come.
More About Alliance for Climate Education (ACE): ACE’s mission is to educate young people about the science of climate change and empower them to take action. We believe that young people have the power to tip the scales toward just climate solutions that match the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. ACE’s strength is in our work at the intersection of youth, climate, and democracy, taking an integrated approach across all of our programs to empower young people to become effective civic engagement and climate advocacy leaders.
A sample of the billboard creative:
Illinois Farm Bureau to fund Illinois Press Foundation grants to student journalism programs
April 16, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Rogers, Illinois Press Foundation director
217-241-1300, ext. 286
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Farm Bureau will be the financial sponsor of this year’s Illinois Press Foundation mini-grants program that assists existing media programs at public and private high schools throughout the state.
Selected schools receive grants of up to $1,500 from the Illinois Press Foundation to pay for a computer, software or other equipment needed for a high school’s student media program to produce print or online newspapers. School media programs will be receiving application information Monday, with requests due on or before May 14. Funds or equipment will be received in September.
“We’re excited to have Illinois Farm Bureau as a partner in this effort,” Illinois Press Foundation Director Jeff Rogers said. “Both of our organizations feel passionate about the opportunity to help young journalist and student news organizations.”
The mini-grants program will provide funding or equipment to as many as 15 high school media programs.
“Illinois Farm Bureau is really excited to be a part of program that will assist Illinois high school students in developing their writing and reporting skills while also sharing the news of their school,” said Chris Magnuson, executive director of Illinois Farm Bureau’s News and Communication division. “These types of hands-on opportunities typically create future career goals, and it’s exciting to think that some of these students could one day help tell agriculture and rural America’s story.”
Jerry Reppert, president of the Illinois Press Foundation Board, called Illinois Farm Bureau’s sponsorship “great news,” and added the mini-grants program has always been special to him.
For more information about the Illinois Press Foundation’s mini-grants program, email Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 378,237 and a voting membership of 77,909. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
The Illinois Press Foundation is dedicated to promoting and protecting free expression through educational activities that foster the practice and respect of First Amendment principles and values, to enhance the quality of services provided by newspapers to their communities, and to support reading and literacy efforts.
The IPF was established in 1982 as the charitable arm of the Illinois Press Association.
Its news service, Capitol News Illinois, has provided daily coverage of state government for Illinois’ newspapers since it was formed in 2019.
Partners in Recovery:
Sangamon County Recovery Oriented System of Care
April 8, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Teagan Shull,
217-544-9858, ext. 3108
(Springfield) – Systems of recovery have been forming across the state of Illinois. The goals of these systems? To support recovery. Family Guidance Centers, Inc. (FGC), a not-for-profit behavioral health care organization that treats and prevents substance use disorders, as well as an array of other behavioral health care concerns, received a grant to create a recovery oriented system of care (ROSC) right here in Sangamon County. What does a ROSC do?
ROSC is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resiliencies of individuals, families, and communities to achieve recovery and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of substance use disorders. The central focus of a ROSC is to create an infrastructure, or “system of care”, with the resources to effectively address the full range of substance use disorders within communities. These goals include:
* Building a culture that builds and nurtures recover
* Building capacity and infrastructure to support a recovery-oriented system of care;
* Developing commitment to implement and sustain a recovery-oriented system of care.
“The goal of a ROSC is to create a system that works for individuals in recovery. This means that individuals in recovery have access to the resources and support they need. Recovery is a lifelong journey not just a 28-day program and individuals, their families and the community all need to work together to support that journey,” said Tegan Shull, program manager of Sangamon County ROSC. “Currently the council is working on conducting a community needs assessment and developing educational materials to facilitate conversations in the community about recovery and start reducing the stigma that surrounds substance use disorders. Recovery truly takes a village and affects the entire community”
"The current system of care is complex and often poses barriers versus points of access. Individuals and family members struggle to navigate services that are disjointed and often times stigmatizing. Sangamon County needs a connected system with multiple points of access to treatment and recovery services,” said Trenda Hedges, manager of Wellness and Recovery Operations for Beacon Health Options. “The phrase ‘nothing about us without us’ has been the chant of individuals in recovery for decades. ROSC creates the opportunity for the voices of those most affected by substance use and misuse to be heard and implemented into a system of care that supports recovery."
Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (ROSC) meets monthly and all are invited to attend. If you or your organization would like to get involved, visit the ROSC website at Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (godaddysites.com) or email Teagan Shull at email@example.com.
120 N 11th St., Springfield, IL 62703, (217) 544-9858
Website: Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (godaddysites.com)
Illinois midwife bill passes
House Health Care Licensing Committee
March 29, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bukola M. Bello
After a decades-long fight, a bill to license certified professional midwives in Illinois passed the Illinois House of Representatives Health Care Licensing Committee March 24, 2021.
The bill grants a state license for midwives to assist in safe home births if they attain professional midwife certification, a nationally recognized credential.
The bill has been a long time coming. Variations of this bill have been brought before the legislature nearly every year since the late 1970s. In that same time, 35 states and Washington D.C. have granted licenses to certified professional midwives, many of which also cover the cost through state Medicaid programs.
Nearly 1,000 families in Illinois choose to give birth at home every year. These families may choose to do so due to cultural, philosophical or religious reasons, or because of fear related to trauma and racism.The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for out-of-hospital maternity care providers. Most people seeking out-of-hospital births this year have been left to navigate a market of underground midwives, which offers no state regulated protections for consumers.
People of color also face much higher risk of maternal mortality and other complications than their white counterparts. A recent National Academy of Engineering, Medicine, and Sciences' Birth Settings in America Report indicated that racism – not race – is a risk that contributes to poorer outcomes for birthing people of color. Proponents of the bill believe that providing the people of Illinois more access to safe, licensed maternity care providers outside the hospital system can help address this problem.
Isis Rose, a Black mother, anthropologist, birth professional and home birth advocate, of Urbana, Illinois, told Illinois House Health Care Licensing Committee members that she chooses to birth at home because “here in Illinois, Black women are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.” The “disproportionately high rates of negative pregnancy and birth outcomes for black birthing people of color”, coined “obstetric racism” by anthropologist Dana-Ain Davis, is the primary reason she and her husband choose to have their babies at home with a certified professional midwife. She relayed that “for all people, especially Black birthing people, to feel comfortable choosing home birth, we need increased access to legal channels of midwifery and greater access to home birth midwives with congruent cultural backgrounds and lived experiences.”
In addressing these numerous issues, the Certified Professional Midwife Practice Act (HB 3401) will regulate the professional conduct of home birth midwives in Illinois by establishing a Midwifery Board and setting rigorous standards for practice; require midwives to meet educational standards supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; regulate the use of life-saving medications and treatments for mothers and newborns to ensure high-quality care for parent and child; allow midwives to screen for possible complications and conditions such as congenital heart defects and hearing disabilities; establish a safe system to transfer care during rare emergencies; and mandate informed consent forms to meet established standards.
Carrie Vickery, of Ottawa, Illinois, and vice president of Illinois Friends of Midwives, a group advocating and lobbying for broader access to midwifery care in Illinois, told state legislators during a March 24, 2021, hearing that the state of Illinois is failing in its duty to appropriately regulate home birth midwifery.
"Each year of delay in licensing and integrating home birth midwives puts consumers at risk," Vickery said. "We are telling you: protect us. Give us licensed certified professional midwives."
Hearing this call, the committee passed the bill with a unanimous vote, and the bill is expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote sometime later this session.
The bill's sponsors in the Illinois House of Representatives are state Reps. Rep.Robyn Gabel (D, Evanston), Anna Moeller (D, Elgin), Michelle Mussman (D, Schaumburg) William Davis (D, East Hazel Crest),Terra Costa-Howard (D, Lombard), Norine K. Hammond (R, Macomb), Kelly M. Cassidy (D, Chicago), Bob Morgan (D, Highwood), LaToya Greenwood (D, East St. Louis), Amy Grant (R, Wheaton), Lance Yednock (D, Ottawa), Steven Reick (R, Woodstock), Daniel Didech (D, Buffalo Grove), Michael T. Marron (R, Danville), Maurice A. West, II (D, Rockford), Thomas Morrison (R, Palatine), Rita Mayfield (D, Waukegan), Michael Halpin (D, Rock Island), Kathleen Willis (D, Northlake), Brad Halbrook (R, Shelbyville), Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. (D, Summit), Mark Batinick (R, Plainfield), Randy E. Frese (R, Quincy), Theresa Mah (D, Chicago), Margaret Croke (D, Chicago), Stephanie A. Kifowit (D, Aurora), Janet Yang Rohr (D, Naperville), Lindsey LaPointe (D, Chicago) and Suzanne Ness (D, Carpentersville).
receive recognition for their accomplishments”.
FCCLA’s 75thanniversary is a major milestone for the organization and FCS education. Whether one is looking to feel confident in the kitchen, make a difference in their community, or prepare for career success, FCCLA and FCS is the secret ingredient to succeed in the home and workplace.
Tufts University: https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/general-nutrition/28-of-americans-cant-cook
WZDX Fox: https://www.rocketcitynow.com/article/news/what-ever-happened-to-home-ec-millennials-struggling-with-home-and-nutrition-skills/525-7f8fd87d-2134-408f-909b-4687ba46b496
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has more than182,000 members and 5,253 chapters from 48 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
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