Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Dominika Chruszcz, Andrea Davenport, Janaleigh Muszynsky, and Amie Shields
Starting as a chemistry major, Professor Charles N. Wheeler III decided to change directions in careers. Wheeler, having a 24-year experience with the Chicago Sun-Times, reports subjects of state government, politics, and communication. He divulges his time into making sure that the news he and others read is supremely accurate.
Numerous politicians, businessmen, and Wheeler himself are concerned with the three year period of a non-existent state budget.
“Unless the General Assembly and the governor get their act together in the next few days, we’ll start another fiscal year 18’ on July 1st without a budget in place,” Wheeler said.
He also notes that numerous programs will be lost in healthcare and schools if no budget is passed.
“We have this room to increase our tax rates to make them comparable to our neighboring states and do it over a period of time trying to reduce the deficit at the end of the year,” Wheeler said. “So that after maybe five or six years, we’re back in the black.”
Wheeler seems to disapprove and question Governor Rauner’s efforts in creating a stable relationship with speaker of the House Michael Madigan. Wheeler said that during the decades before Rauner, other Republicans were able to come to a consensus with Madigan.
“You have the governor sending out these messages all the time, ‘It’s all Mike Madigan’s fault! It’s all Mike Madigan’s fault!,’” Wheeler said. “As I said earlier, why is it that this Republican governor can’t work with Mike Madigan when every other Republican governor has been able to?”
In regards to today’s political matters, Wheeler also believes that today’s journalists have a more difficult time in writing precise stories. During his time as a journalist, he noted that he would have to physically bring copies of various budget books and look them over on his own time. He believes that social media dictates article deadlines, increasing a more intent and vigorous atmosphere between the competitiveness of newspapers.
“The thing is when I started as a reporter, we used a device called a typewriter. Nowadays, it’s all computer,” Wheeler said. “In fact, the availability of online stuff makes [information] in one sense easier because you could look up reports [and] you could look up records. The internet has made it easier for misinformation to spread.”
Wheeler wished the EIU journalism program multitudes of success for the future. He offered advice to prospective journalists and even directed it to the people who weren’t sure about their career paths.
“Whatever you do; remember to be engaged as citizens, follow the issues, follow the campaigns,” Wheeler said. “Use your best judgement; ‘Who could best serve myself and my neighbors and my family?’”