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WCBU awarded funding to increase news coverage in Washington and Pekin

Emily Bollinger

WCBU will expand local news coverage in Washington and Pekin launching this summer thanks to grant funding from a partnership between the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) and the Google News Initiative (GNI).

After participating in a three-month program of GNI’s Fundamentals Lab in a cohort with other news organizations across the country, the WCBU team created a plan focused on audience development to combat the growing number of news deserts in our region, an issue that persists nationwide.

Studies have shown that communities lacking robust local journalism have lower levels of voter participation and higher levels of corruption. WCBU is in the fight for democracy, and as a leader in nonprofit news in Greater Peoria, WCBU believes Tazewell County deserves MORE local coverage for its 131,000 people.

“We recognize the growing need for more local news in communities like Washington and Pekin as legacy media is increasingly strained, and this new grant from GNI and INN allows us to rise to the challenge in a big way,” said WCBU News Director Tim Shelley. “People need unvarnished, objective facts to help inform their own decisions on what's happening in their community.”

And what’s happening in these communities matters. WCBU is excited to fill this gap in a variety of ways, while keeping our coverage free and accessible to all as part of our public media mission. Expanded coverage will officially launch June 1 with new landing pages on WCBU.org for each community that includes reporting on the issues that matter most, including but not limited to in-depth human-interest stories, local businesses, and municipal coverage.

News products coming soon

WCBU will also launch two new newsletters to provide the latest news delivered directly to audience inboxes, as well as city council meeting roundups for both communities. Join the mailing list by signing up here.

We’re also interested in hearing from those who live, work, and play in these communities about what they want to see, hear, and read. Submit those suggestions here.

WCBU strives to continuously earn the trust and support of our audience with quality content and integrity in our reporting. We take that commitment very seriously and are excited to continue and grow efforts in Pekin and Washington.

Support WCBU’s expanding coverage areas

Nothing we do here at WCBU is possible without community support. See more information about underwriting and donating to build on the GNI/INN grant funding.

Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant program and development director, All Things Considered host, as well as the producer of WCBU’s arts and culture podcast Out and About.