A routine process becomes more significant when repeated 185 times. That’s how often Illinois Issues has received requests to reprint articles since 1992, the year I became publisher. An average of 18 such requests a year tells me the magazine is consistently useful.
Now, as I leave the magazine, I can think of no greater compliment: What we publish makes a difference to an engaged community of readers.
I consider our readers a community because, for better or worse, you are together in a grand arena focusing on state government. I call you engaged because nearly 80 percent of you reported in a survey that you influence the policy-making or lawmaking processes in state government. You write letters. You make phone calls, and you find out what’s happening. You contact officials, or you are the officials. Some of you lobby. A majority of you give money to campaigns.
So for you also to say that you value Illinois Issues’ perspective on state government says everything. It means we are worth your time. I am honored to have carried this beacon of public trust handed to me by my predecessors, Bill Day and Mike Lennon. In the 1970s, they implemented a vision to establish an independent magazine devoted to covering Illinois government and politics.
It wasn’t long before Illinois Issues became the state’s leading public affairs magazine. It also became aninstitution with a community service mandate flowing from the mission of a state university. This allows us to co-sponsor the Motorola Award for Excellence in Public Service, to sponsor a Hall of Fame for former legislative interns and to lead citizen education projects on such topics as campaign finance and civic engagement.
I’m proud of my 10-year association with you. Nothing is better than mixing with people who want the same thing. We all want “a better Illinois,” though I am quick to muse that we could never agree on what that means or how to get there. Such is the wonder of democracy. Such is the hope of engaged citizens who resist the impulse to become cynical.
“I believe in the patriotism and energy and initiative of the average man,” Woodrow Wilson once said. So do I. That’s why I have always been attracted to political processes.
More important is that I expect my departure to be only a minor distraction to you. Illinois Issues remains in good hands, eager to contribute to your understanding of a great state.
Wojcicki left his position as Illinois Issues publisher on December 31. He is still at the University of Illinois at Springfield as the associate chancellor for constituent relations. His e-mail address remains email@example.com.
Illinois Issues, January 2002