Friday, July 24, 2015

Illinois Issues magazine going all digital

The August edition of Illinois Issues will be the last print version of the 40-year-old magazine.

The change comes about a year after the publication merged with WUIS-FM 91.9, with reporters from both outlets doing radio and magazine stories.

"This has been a difficult decision," Randy Eccles, general manager of the radio station and publisher of Illinois Issues, wrote on his Mission Control blog at, the site of magazine and radio stories. He added that it is hardest on the staff, but they also "realize the reality of the media market."

"I still enjoy holding printed pages but find myself more frequently reading on my smartphone or laptop," Eccles said.

Declining circulation, costs associated with trying to increase print distribution, and uncertain state funding combined to push the decision to go all digital, Eccles said. He also said the good news is that some stories recently published online have been read by five times the number reached by the print magazine.

Jamey Dunn, Illinois Issues executive editor, said that as of early this year, the magazine had just under 1,000 paid subscribers. The level was nearly 6,000 back in 1994.

Dunn noted that the magazine was started by U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and others who wanted to create a "nonpartisan, in-depth venue" so people could learn about Illinois.

She and others at the magazine are very sad about the end of the print edition, she said, but she added that the online experience so far has been very encouraging.

"We realize that the way that we're going to reach more of an audience and new people is online," Dunn said. "That's where people are getting their news."

State support for the magazine through the University of Illinois Springfield was $175,000 last fiscal year, Dunn said. Eccles wrote that Illinois Issues might have faced a $120,000 deficit without the move to all digital.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on July 23, 2015.

Read the article online.