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The College of Public Affairs and Administration and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield
Public Affairs Reporting

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  • Andrea Zelinski stands on Zealand Mountain in New Hampshire during her seven-month hike on the Appalachian Trail.

    PAR Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Zelinski hikes 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail

    In the years since completing the Public Affairs Reporting program in 2008, Andrea Zelinski has been covering politics and government for news organizations in Illinois, Tennessee and Texas. But in 2020, she pause her journalism career for a seven-month journey on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,193-mile hiking trail that covers 14 states.

  • Image of a reporter in a helmet in front of protesters in the middle of a street.

    Time to stop hating on journalists for reporting facts

    I didn’t get into journalism to be liked. But I didn’t get into it to be hated, either. After the last four years of President Trump’s attacks on the media, his followers feel more emboldened than ever to direct hateful language and dangerous threats toward journalists trying to do their jobs.

  • Photo of Daralene Jones, PAR Graduate

    PAR Alumni Spotlight: Daralene Jones helps reveal truth of Ocoee Massacre

    For 100 years, the story of the Ocoee Massacre remained largely untold. But thanks to the efforts of Public Affairs Reporting graduate Daralene Jones and her team at WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando, the truth of what happened to Black residents in Ocoee on Election Day 1920 is being revealed to a new generation of people in Florida and beyond.

  • Photo of a newspaper front pages above the fold

    Is It A Lost Cause To Get Young People To Read Newspapers?

    When we think about the average reader of a newspaper – the actual paper kind – the profile tends to be older, more educated and more affluent compared to a non-newspaper reader.  Combine that with the stereotypical image of a college student – younger and less affluent with their eyes and fingers glued to a screen – and you might think there’s little chance of ever turning a 20-something into someone who sips their coffee over the morning paper.  It might not all be a lost cause, however.

  • Trump Controversies Raise Journalism Ethics Questions

    An analysis:  two recent news stories that make President Trump look bad have launched important discussions about journalism ethics. 

  • Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris

    We Don’t Want to Hear about Kamala Harris’ Shoes

    When vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris delivers her prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, pay attention to the words used to describe her.  Unfortunately, commentators, opinionmakers and sometimes even news reporters have a bad habit of describing female politicians in ways they rarely or never do about male politicians.

  • "Make a little noise with your pens, pencils, your cameras." John Lewis.  An Essay by Prof. Jason Pisica, PAR Director.  The Capitol Connection Blog.  July 21, 2020.  A photo of Kayla Collins, Public Affairs Reporting Graduate, during her internship int he state capitol.

    ‘Make a little noise with your pens, your pencils, your cameras’

    John Lewis had a familiar directive when it came to standing up against racial injustice – get yourself into some “good trouble” while doing it.  As tributes to the civil rights icon and congressman pour in following his death on July 17 at age 80, journalists need to remember those words apply to them, too.

  • Trump targets Twitter; what will happen to free speech?

    "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."  Back when I was the online editor of The State Journal-Register, this sentence went through my mind often as I kept track of the flood of reader comments that appeared under the online version of our journalists’ news stories.

  • Saving Local News

    Local journalism was in serious trouble before anyone heard of COVID-19, but amid a worldwide shutdown intended to stem the spread of the dangerous virus, the financial struggles of your local media outlet are even more serious now. So how can we fix this?

  • Trif Alatzas

    Local News – Needed Now More Than Ever

    Trif Alatzas discusses the need for local news in today’s world.  Alatzas led The Baltimore Sun team that was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting "for illuminating, impactful" investigations into city and state government.

  • Dr. Robert W. Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration

    May Public Affairs Minute: The Role of a Free Press in a Democratic Society

    Journalists are trained to be objective observers, uncover the facts, keep sources confidential and question stakeholders, citizens, politicians, corporate and military leaders, and their institutions. The purpose is to shed light, provide transparency, ferret out lies and insure accuracy. Indeed, this focus on the truth is the fundamental role of a free press in democratic society.

  • May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. Thank a Journalist.

    World Press Freedom Day -- established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and observed annually on May 3 -- is a chance to celebrate the free press principles we enjoy in the United States.  America’s journalists -- from the largest national outlets in New York and D.C. to the tiny newspapers in rural towns throughout the country -- work hard to reveal the truth the public needs.