Illinois news site’s heavy coverage on Republican senator questioned

Illinois State Sen Sue Rezin

The New York Times has called into question a publication in Illinois favorably mentioning a Republican senator in several of its stories.

Almost every story at the top of the homepage of online publication Illinois Valley Times in early September was about Republican state senator Sue Rezin, Times reported in its recent investigative piece.

Times had uncovered details about the supposed operation through interviews with more than 30 current and former employees and clients, as well as thousands of internal emails between reporters and editors spanning several years. Employees of the network shared emails and the editing history in the site’s publishing software that revealed who requested dozens of articles and how.

“Ms. Rezin said in an interview that she didn’t know why the outlet focused on her so much, but that she didn’t mind all the positive coverage,” Times said in its report.

Illinois Valley Times is part of a pay-for-play network of local news sites

The Illinois Valley Times is part of a network which “is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives, and public relations professionals,” according to the report.

In the “About page” of its website, Illinois Valley times states it believes that “local government works best when voters have ready access to public data about the use of their tax dollars: how much money is being spent; where it is being spent; how it is being spent.”

“The Illinois Valley Times exists to provide this reporting to the people of the Illinois Valley. We continually review public data in the area and Illinois and turn this data into stories of importance to taxpayers in the Illinois Valley,” it added.