Conversation with the Publisher: As the media industry changes, UIS has some ideas and questions

May 1, 2001

Ed Wojcicki
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The last time we conducted a formal readership survey, in 1996, some of the results surprised me. I learned that almost half of you have at least a master's degree and that more than seven in 10 of you had contributed to a political campaign in the previous two years. And most of you vote every chance you get. So we have an educated and engaged audience. 

The information is old by marketing standards, so we're coming back to you this month. We're selecting a random sample of subscribers and conducting a survey by mail.

At the time of our last survey, the Internet was still emerging as a source of information for many people. Now we assume it's used by most of our readers. But we need to find out. Please respond and return the Readership Survey. The publishing industry is melting into a broader information industry and the more we know about our readers, the more we'll be able to provide you with information you want in the manner you want it.

As the media business changes, a planning group is pushing to establish the Illinois Channel, which would be an Illinois version of C-SPAN. A planning report released last month indicated the 24-hour channel would cover all three branches of Illinois government, as well as conferences on policy issues.

The report proposes creating an independent nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Illinois at Springfield. A professional staff, not government officials, would determine the programming. The proposal asks for state funding: about $3 million in start-up costs and $3.2 million in annual expenses. The target date is January 2002.

I should mention that I served as an adviser to the planning group. I endorse the idea of Illinoisans having more access to information about state government.

Finally, I'm delighted to mention that Illinois Issues again is co-sponsoring the Motorola Excellence in Public Service Award, along with the North Business & Industrial Council of Chicago (NORBIC). You can help us select a public official who has been innovative in effecting positive change. See the form on page 15 to nominate someone.