Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
Charlie Wheeler can only imagine what the future holds about Illinois government.
“There’s a lot less civility,” Wheeler said during a discussion with students Monday afternoon, “and a lot more hostility than back in the day.”
He has noticed the hostility in the communication problems that exist in the State Capitol.
Wheeler, speaking in the Capitol Press Room Monday, would not speculate whether the government would successfully pull together a budget, as promised, by Wednesday.
The state government has gone for one full year, as of the end of the month, without an approved state budget. This is the longest period a state government has been without a budget in the United States in recent memory. Possibly the reason behind the budget issues is the lack of communication, which is one of the many issues Wheeler and many others have noticed recently.
These observations might have stemmed from some of his early educational experiences.
Wheeler majored in English, and he graduated from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. He got his Masters Degree in Journalism from The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
In 1969, Wheeler started reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times, little did he know that reporting here would be his life for 24 years. The last 19 years Wheeler focused primarily on the State House Bureau.
According to the University of Illinois, Springfield, Wheeler covered the 6th Illinois Constitutional Convention. For sixteen years, Wheeler served as President for the Illinois Legislative Correspondent Association. He was named the 2013 Journalist of the Year by the Eastern Illinois Journalism Department.
Wheeler uses real-life experiences to prepare them for reporting on the beat. He uses his passion for writing to inform his readers on government. He is in charge of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Springfield, Illinois. This 40-year-old program is one year in length. It offers on-the-job experience through internships. The program also provides a sixth month full-time reporting job covering the Illinois State Capitol. The participants receive graduate credit upon completion of the program.
Clearly, government has changed since 1969 when Wheeler began reporting, not only in technological advancements but also in typical human behavior. With all the scandals and lies being told in today’s world, many can argue that Illinois government is a reporter’s playground with guaranteed interesting stories to cover.
Wheeler stated, “yes it changed, NOT for the better in terms of civil discourse… FOR the better in terms of technology giving more information built.”