Community Advisory Board Minutes - March 2017

NPR Illinois Community Advisory Board Meeting
March 3, 2017

Attendees:  

  • Deanie Brown
  • Katleeen Dunn
  • Eric Hadley-Ives
  • Bethany Jaeger
  • David Kohn
  • Linda McCaffrey
  • Laurence J. Msall
  • Adam Porter
  • Megan Pressnall
  • Kent Redfield
  • Blake Roderick
  • Richard Schuldt
  • Sean Crawford
  • Randy Eccles
  • David Racine 

Phone:  

  • Chuck Scholz, Chair
  • Cindy Canary, Vice-Chair
  • Alden Loury
  • Chris Mooney
  • George Van Dusen

11:30 AM Call to order
Welcome - Randy Eccles
Roll Call

Election - first 100 days

  • NPR Illinois has added the special broadcast, Indivisible -- call-in program inviting Republicans, Democrats, and independents to discuss issues together.  Working to hear from pockets of the population that many say the media has overlooks.
  • Covering as many presidential addresses live as possible and providing annotated recaps on nprillinois.org.
  • Also, posted President Trump's tweets on the nprillinois.org homepage with annotations.
  • Receiving comments from all sides about our coverage of Trump.  All coverage has the goal of providing understanding and being factual.  Another advisor suggested taking a historical view of administrative transitions.
  • David Kohn offered that discrediting the media is a threat to the democratic process. There needs to be a place where you know the facts are objective. Reassure audience about credibility by showing the work that goes into the reporting to avoid liberal stereotyping.   NPR Illinois follows  the Public Media Code of Integrity
  • Recommended we look at how national policy changes affect Illinois.  For instance, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was supposed to help farmers in Illinois. Health+Harvest desk will review.
  • Engagement activities beyond digital and broadcast include:  100 Expressions of 100 Days, the call for submissions has begun for an art exhibit representing as many perspectives as possible.  Exhibit debuts with reception at studios on 100th day, April 29, 2017.
  • NPR Illinois is also in the process of planning a civic education, media literacy, and reporting engagement program for middle school students, to be followed by a high school program, a college program, and an adult program.

Education

  • Since Dusty Rhodes joined NPR Illinois in 2014 there has been more K-12 coverage.  Reporting on Illinois higher education continues, especially in the shadow of the budget impasse.  Education coverage could use additional resources due to its breadth, impact, and complexity.  Rhodes now participates in a weekly, "NPR Ed," call or education reporters from across the country.
  • Discussion of education coverage was dominated by the impact of the budget impasse.  Community colleges are struggling along with four-year institutions.  Even private colleges are hurt from MAP grant uncertainty.  Many are zero budget from the state. Wondering how to operate.  As long as K-12 schools are funded, there will be little pressure to reach a budget.
  • Ryan Croke, UIS Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs, joined the conversation and noted the permanent damage sustained to a college's reputation if they have to cut or close. They have to project strength or they lose enrollment in a competitive industry.  All Illinois public universities are seeing decreasing enrollment except the the University of Illinois campuses and Governor's State University.  This increases funding challenges.   Seniors are looking for colleges and universities outside of Illinois. Talk to neighboring states and universities about out of state enrollment marketing and increases.  When a student attends out-of-state college, it is much less likely they'll return to live and contribute to Illinois, a brain drain.  The U of I system has proposed a template for other universities to follow. Requests 5-year long-term predictable budget in exchange for a commitment to certain returns (e.g.: graduation rates).
  • Suggestions for stories included the unfunded mandates on schools and what that's costing them.
  • Are teachers teaching what is going on in the state level and telling them about the lack of a budget?
  • Rural schools and consolidation. How is lower population affecting the high schools. How is distance bussing increasing commute time?
  • School choice doesn't translate to rural districts.
  • Early childhood development is proving critical to developing learning. Even earlier than preschool  and prenatal conditions have an impact.
  • What is the job of schools in how they approach race, gender identity, sexual orientation. Regardless of policy, teachers are on the front line.  What is the nature of teacher's work and what is there responsibility to teach their students about social issues like civil rights.  Title 9 plays out in athletics and transgender bathroom use even though it never mentions these things. Abandonment of enforcement by the federal government?
  • College and career readiness among seniors in high school and college.
  • Asking the students what they would want to tell the policy makers and what they are thinking about school and Illinois.
  • Professor poaching.
  • Pension cost-shifting from state to local districts.
  • Privatization of higher ed might be unavoidable.

Budget

Past Due initiative focuses on the Illinois budget impasse.  Advisors worry the lack of a budget has been institutionalized, normalized.  They recommend more coverage of personal stories of the budget's impact.

  • Consolidation of government units (counties, townships, etc.)
  • Bring forwards more rural stories so that coast media knows about the problems.
  • Everyone is getting a lot of services from the government.  Do they realize it?
  • Why aren't state officials doing their jobs?
  • Who is benefitting?  Companies providing bridge loans.  Large organizations that have the cash flow to float the government and receive the 12% interest, a great return on investment.

Equity

We have done a lot of reporting on issues of LGBT, race, poverty, arts. Rachel's reporting appeals to a different age group.

Advisory recommendations

  • Programming is responsive of the educational and cultural needs of the community.
  • Need a greater emphasis on stories about specific individuals regarding the tangible and real damage of the state's failure to pass a budget.
  • NPR Illinois is uniquely positioned to report on rural and small city stories while considering the weight of Chicago and St. Louis.
  • More engagement with students here at UIS and hiring a diverse staff.  NPR Illinois covers identity stories well but its staff is not diverse.

Other updates:

Staff

  • Sandra McGinnis retired. One search failed to find a candidate that meets the requirements.
  • Statehouse bureau chief Amanda Vinicky was recruited by WTTW-TV. Statehouse position open. Brian Mackey is continuing to cover that.
  • Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn was recruited by Susana Mendoza's office to be deputy director of communications.
  • Business manager Toni Langdon moved to the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Underwriting account executive Rachel Lattimore was recruited to Purdue's public radio station, WBAA.
  • In all these cases, staff left for significantly increased salaries.  The lack of higher education funding for our licensee is also playing into decisions.
  • Development director search has also failed.  It has been open since Randy Eccles moved into the GM position. 

Illinois' budget and public media funding challenges are impacting recruitment pools.  

Funding challenges

  • Illinois Arts Council Agency funding has not occurred for two years.
  • UIS support reduced 20% two years ago and another 20% this year.
  • Area business underwriting decreasing due to local economic pressure of budget impasse.
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) provides about 12% of NPR Illinois funding each year.  A Colorado rep has put forth a bill to defund CPB.  The new administration is also considering defunding CPB.

Next meeting - Union League Club, Chicago.