Foundation hires 3 reporters to cover state government for Capitol News Illinois news service

SPRINGFIELD - Capitol News Illinois, the Illinois Press Foundation's news service providing state government coverage to Illinois newspapers, has hired three full-time reporters for its launch Jan. 28.

Rebecca Anzel, Peter Hancock and Jerry Nowicki have been hired as reporters for Capitol News Service Illinois. Grant Morgan will work full-time this spring as an intern. IPF Director Jeff Rogers will serve as the Capitol News Illinois bureau chief.

Rebecca Anzel joined the Capitol News Illinois reporting team on Jan. 7. Anzel previously reported from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s Statehouse bureau, where she pitched, reported and wrote pieces on state government, covering legislative efforts, committee hearings, courts and lawmakers for Illinois’ legal community. She earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield, and is a graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism on Long Island, New York, where she focused on multimedia techniques.
Peter Hancock will join the Capitol News Illinois reporting team on Jan. 21. Hancock has covered Kansas state government for much of the past two decades. For the past 4 years, Hancock has been the statehouse reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World. He provided year-round daily coverage of the Kansas Statehouse, state government, appellate courts, elections and Kansas’ congressional delegation. He previously worked for 8 years as a statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, and with the Kansas Health Policy Authority and the Kansas Education Policy Report.
Jerry Nowicki joined the Illinois Press Foundation’s reporting team on Jan. 2. He is the former editor of the LeRoy Farmer City Press, which won the 2016 David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy for Illinois’ best small weekly newspaper. For the past 2 years, he served as a legislative aide to state Sen. Steve Landek. He grew up in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, has lived in five Illinois counties and now resides in Springfield. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Illinois State University and will obtain his master’s degree in communication from Purdue University in May 2019.
Grant Morgan began his internship with Capitol News Illinois on Jan. 7. He is an Ohio native and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, political science, economics and English from The University of Akron. There, he worked for 4 years at his student newspaper, including a stint as editor-in-chief.

"I am excited about the news team we have hired, and we're eager to get to work," Rogers said. "There's a good mix of youth and experience, and they all share a passion for the Foundation's mission with the news service, which is to bolster a Statehouse press corps that has been significantly depleted over time."

The Capitol News Illinois news team will begin providing daily coverage of state government on Jan. 28, when the schedule for General Assembly sessions picks up in pace. Content (stories, photos, video and audio recordings, and newspaper graphics) will be made available on a Capitol News Illinois website, which the Foundation is working with a local third-party provider to develop. Member newspapers will be able to access content on the website with a username and password.

Capitol News Illinois plans to provide not only daily content, but also coverage of state government tailored for the 300-plus weekly newspapers that are IPA members. Coverage emphasis will be placed on legislative sessions, committee hearings, state agencies and the Supreme Court.

As the Capitol News Illinois team prepares for the official launch, reporters will work on stories about the General Assembly’s new lawmakers. Those stories will be emailed to each member newspaper in the lawmaker’s district over the next few days and weeks.

If you have any questions about Capitol News Illinois or coverage suggestions, email Jeff Rogers at

IPF News

Renaud awarded with National Scholastic Press Association Pioneer Award

The Illinois Press Foundation is honored to have a 2018 national award-winner on its board! Sally Renaud was one of five educators recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association as Pioneer Award recipients. Sally was awarded Nov. 3 during the JEA/NSPA convention in Chicago.

The Pioneer is the highest honor NSPA awards to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high school journalism programs and scholastic journalism education outside their primary employment.

“These Pioneers represent the best of the best in the country,” NSPA Executive Director Laura Widmer said.

Renaud has been executive director of the Illinois Journalism Education Association since January 2005, learning early on from press association veterans Randy Swikle, Susan Tantillo, Linda Jones and Dave Porreca. During her tenure, the organization and board have created an annual statewide onside contest with the Illinois High School Association, created an All-State Journalism Team and training partnership with the Illinois Press Foundation, recognized outstanding advising with the James A. Tidwell Award–in partnership with EIU and the estate of Diana Peckham.

Stan Zoller, in his nomination letter, said since her arrival in Illinois, Renaud has led IJEA to thrive along with new opportunities for Illinois’ scholastic journalists.

“First held in 2006, the tournament continues to grow bringing student journalists from throughout the state together thanks to Sally’s Pioneer spirit and vision,” Zoller said. “Also, since taking the helm of the IJEA, the achievements of scholastic journalists are now recognized through new IJEA-sponsored contests for media staffs across the state.”

He also mentioned the importance of Renaud’s insights and guidance during Illinois’ push for HB-5902, the Speech Rights for Scholastic Journalism Act in 2016, were a major contribution to the successful passage and signing of the bill.

“I, along with fellow NSPA Pioneer Brenda Field, worked closely with Sally throughout the entire process,” Zoller said. “Her passion for a free and independent scholastic press was reflected in her tireless efforts on behalf of the bill – which is now law in Illinois.”

Linda Drake, of Chase County Jr/Sr High School, Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, said during her tenure at Emporia State University, Renaud fostered the love for scholastic journalism through her teaching, through her help with so many Kansas Scholastic Press Association activities as well as mentoring of many already in the field.

“There are so many outstanding journalism advisers because of Sally Renaud,” Drake said. “Sally is the epitome of what the NSPA Pioneer Award represents.”

Retired journalism teacher Wayne Brasler had this to say about Renaud. “What has impressed me most is her talent for involving newcomers to our field with warmth and enthusiasm. She also is gracious, impressive and generous. The value she holds for the ability of high school and college journalism to transform lives both of the new talent coming in and those who use the media in their daily lives is inspirational.”

NSPA Pioneer Candace Perkins Bowen said Renaud is a valuable resource for those involved in scholastic media in Illinois and far beyond. She mentioned in a video clip on the Eastern Illinois University’s Journalism Department page, Renaud explains what she enjoys most about teaching: “I love watching students practice…get their first bylines, their first great stories.” Bowen added, “It’s that student-centered approach, no matter the age of the students, that sets Sally Renaud apart and makes her a true Pioneer in our field.”

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