Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB3592
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Full Text of SB3592  103rd General Assembly



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1    AN ACT concerning journalism.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Strengthening Community Media Act.
6    Section 5. Findings.
7    (a) Illinois benefits from robust local news services that
8provide trusted and essential information to the community
9that limits corruption, encourages citizen participation,
10helps combat misinformation, and mitigates community and
11individual alienation.
12    (b) Local news in Illinois and throughout the country is
13struggling with newspaper advertising dropping 82% nationally
14since 2000, contributing to a 57% drop in the number of
15reporters at newspapers and thousands of closures.
16    (c) Local news outlets are trusted sources of information
17for communities throughout Illinois and advertising spending
18with these outlets carries a substantial benefit for the
19effective dissemination of important government information to
20the communities it serves.
21    (d) Government initiatives to increase spending on local
22news advertising has been manifestly successful in both
23supporting local news outlets and improving the information



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1diet of communities in several major cities.
2    (e) Illinois can and will implement such an initiative
3while preserving the editorial independence of local news
4outlets selling advertising space under this Act, and
5recognizes that any diversion of advertising spending that has
6the effect or appearance of an attempt to influence the
7editorial content of a local news organization violates the
8federal and State guarantees of freedom of the press and
9freedom of speech.
10    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act:
11    "Department" means the Department of Commerce and Economic
13    "Local news organization" means an entity that:
14        (1) engages professionals to create, edit, produce,
15    and distribute original content concerning matters of
16    public interest, through reporting activities, including
17    conducting interviews, observing current events, or
18    analyzing documents or other information;
19        (2) has at least one employee employed full-time for
20    30 hours a week or more dedicated to providing coverage of
21    Illinois or local Illinois community news and living
22    within 50 miles of the coverage area, who gathers,
23    prepares, collects, photographs, writes, edits, reports,
24    or publishes original local or State community news for
25    dissemination to the local or State community;



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1        (3) in the case of print publications, has published
2    at least one print publication per month over the previous
3    12 months, and either holds a valid United States Postal
4    Service periodical permit or has at least 25% of its
5    content dedicated to local news;
6        (4) in the case of digital-only entities, has
7    published one piece about the community per week over the
8    previous 12 months and has at least 33% of its digital
9    audience in Illinois, averaged over a 12-month period;
10        (5) in the case of hybrid entities that that have both
11    print and digital outlets, meets the requirements in
12    either paragraph (3) or (4) of this definition;
13        (6) has disclosed in its print publication or on its
14    website its beneficial ownership or, in the case of a
15    not-for-profit entity, its board of directors;
16        (7) in the case of an entity that maintains tax status
17    under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue
18    Code, has declared the coverage of local or State news as
19    the stated mission in its filings with the Internal
20    Revenue Service; and
21        (8) has not received more than 50% of its gross
22    receipts for the previous year from political action
23    committees or other entities described in Section 527 of
24    the federal Internal Revenue Code, or from an organization
25    that maintains Section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) status under
26    the federal Internal Revenue Code.



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1    Section 15. Notice of sale of a local news organization. A
2local news organization shall not be sold to a company without
3giving written notice 120 days before the sales occurs to the
5        (1) affected employees and representatives of affected
6    employees;
7        (2) the Department and the county government in which
8    the local news organization is located; and
9        (3) any in-State nonprofit organization in the
10    business of buying local news organizations.
11    Section 90. The Higher Education Student Assistance Act is
12amended by adding Section 65.125 as follows:
13    (110 ILCS 947/65.125 new)
14    Sec. 65.125. Journalism Student Scholarship Program.
15    (a) As used in this Section, "local news organization" has
16the meaning given to that term in the Strengthening Community
17Media Act.
18    (b) In order to encourage academically talented Illinois
19students to pursue careers in journalism, especially in
20underserved areas of the State, and to provide those students
21with financial assistance to increase the likelihood that they
22will complete their full academic commitment and elect to
23remain in Illinois to pursue a career in journalism, subject



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1to appropriation, not sooner than the 2025-2026 academic year,
2the Commission shall implement and administer the Journalism
3Student Scholarship Program. The Commission shall annually
4award scholarships to persons preparing to work in Illinois,
5with preference given to those preparing to work in
6underserved areas. These scholarships shall be awarded to
7individuals who make application to the Commission and agree
8to sign an agreement under which the recipient pledges that,
9within the 2-year period following the termination of the
10academic program for which the recipient was awarded a
11scholarship, the recipient shall:
12        (1) begin working in journalism in this State for a
13    period of not less than 2 years;
14        (2) fulfill this obligation at local news
15    organization; and
16        (3) upon request of the Commission, provide the
17    Commission with evidence that the recipient is fulfilling
18    or has fulfilled the terms of the teaching agreement
19    provided for in this subsection.
20    (c) An eligible student is a student who meets the
21following qualifications:
22        (1) is a resident of this State and a citizen or
23    eligible noncitizen of the United States;
24        (2) is a high school graduate or a person who has
25    received an Illinois high school diploma;
26        (3) is enrolled or accepted, on at least a half-time



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1    basis, at an institution of higher learning; and
2        (4) is pursuing a postsecondary course of study
3    leading to a career in journalism or a similar field.
4    (d) Each scholarship shall be used by the recipient for
5the payment of tuition and fees at an institution of higher
7    (e) The Commission shall administer the Program and shall
8adopt all necessary and proper rules not inconsistent with
9this Section for its effective implementation.