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Pritzker Tells Journalists 'We Need You'

Jeff Smudde
J.B. Pritzker becomes the second governor to speak before the Illinois News Broadcasters Association. He joins Otto Kerner, who met with journalists in 1964.

Governor J.B. Pritzker held his largest press conference over the weekend — and he’s promising media transparency under his administration.

Speaking before more than a hundred journalists at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association’s annual spring conference in Normal, Pritzker said he’s committed to helping Illinois media tell the stories that matter.

Pritzker said mutual respect between journalists and elected officials is critical in the era of “fake news.”

“If we want our democracy to thrive, we must have a first amendment that thrives,” Pritzker said. “Those with political power must be extremely careful that when we disagree with what’s being said, we nevertheless fight for your right to get the information out.”

Credit Jeff Smudde / IPR / WGLT
Illinois Public Media reporter Christine Herman asks Gov. J.B. Pritzker about his plans for transparency at the state department level.

Illinois Public Media reporters questioned Pritzker about the lack of cooperation from some state departments, namely the Illinois Department of Corrections and Department of Healthcare and Family Services.   

Pritzker said he’s still hiring new staff after the Rauner administration — and that he’ll step in when government officials are unresponsive.

During his address, the governor also doubled down on his commitment to protect undocumented immigrants in Illinois.

On Friday, President Trump said his administration is “strongly looking at” releasing thousands of detained migrants into so-called sanctuary cities. But Pritzker’s calling his bluff.

“The president is a xenophobe and a racist...So when he makes threats like this, they’re upon that history,” Pritzker said. “The fact is we’re not going to ship 11 or 12 million people out of the country, no matter what Donald Trump says. I’m not going to let that happen in Illinois. It’s not going to happen in the United States.”

He said Illinois will remain open to immigrants, despite threats from the White House.

Pritzker is the second governor to address INBA journalists at a convention. . The last was Otto Kerner in 1964.

Edit:  A previous version of this story said Illinois Public Radio reporters could not reach officials from the Department of Human Services. It’s been updated to read Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

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