Three new hires will strengthen outlet’s web, broadcast presence
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS
Capitol News Illinois has continued its rapid expansion in recent weeks, hiring a digital engagement team and its first videographer to bolster its multi-platform presence.
K. Ellen Stackhouse joined the team in September as its director of audience development and engagement. She’ll oversee a website redesign and help build an analytics infrastructure as the news outlet grows to better serve its audiences across the state.
Stackhouse, a digital media and marketing professional, comes to CNI with 20 years of experience working in public and commercial media. Over the past 15 years, she held various roles at WSIU Public Broadcasting – a PBS and NPR affiliate – where she served as a senior project manager. In that role she oversaw digital, development and marketing initiatives. For the last eight years, Stackhouse assumed the role of assistant director of digital services, where she led teams responsible for web management, marketing, social media, and data analytics.
“I’m a huge believer in the importance of data,” she said. “Data should always drive decision making. In today’s data-rich world, harnessing the power of data and analytics is not just an advantage; it’s a necessity for organizations seeking to thrive and make a meaningful impact. I look forward to working with CNI’s newsroom to expand the organization’s digital footprint using this data-driven approach.”
Prior to her roles at WSIU, Stackhouse worked in print media serving as a feature writer for the Southern Illinoisan newspaper in Carbondale, where she contributed to the Southern Health Journal and Leaders Among Us publication.
She’ll be joined on the digital team by Jennifer Dart, who comes to Capitol News Illinois as a web administrator and analyst after a career WSIU.
Dart brings two decades of expertise in data analytics, web design and website administration. She served as assistant webmaster at the Southern Illinoisan, coordinating web, animation and graphic design projects that earned statewide recognition from the Illinois Press Association.
She moved to WSIU in 2019, taking on a web specialist role that included managing the station’s web presence and implementing processes for the station’s digital broadcasting, podcasting, data analytics, and fundraising activities.
“My goal is to create an online presence that highlights the integrity of CNI’s investigative journalism and Statehouse reporting while also engaging the audience with the digital storytelling tools that have the power to bring stories to life,” Dart said. “Capitol News Illinois is not just another news outlet; it’s a vital resource for the people of Illinois, helping citizens stay informed and engaged in the matters that affect their lives.”
While boosting CNI’s digital presence, Stackhouse and Dart also bolster the outlet’s presence in southern Illinois. Stackhouse and Dart both graduated with bachelor’s degrees from Southern Illinois University, where Stackhouse also received a master’s degree in professional media and media management studies.
The news organization also strengthened its Springfield and broadcast presence by hiring Andrew Campbell as a videographer and video editor in October. He resides in Springfield and will work from the CNI office in the state Capitol.
Prior to joining CNI, Campbell was the photojournalist for Gray TV’s Illinois Capitol bureau. In this role he worked with a reporter to provide daily coverage of Illinois politics for six TV stations across the state, covering state budgets, the 2022 governor’s race and the state’s assault weapons ban among countless other stories.
He’ll fulfill a similar role at CNI as the outlet works to distribute news content to the state’s TV stations while building a standalone video presence as well.
“I believe the people of Illinois deserve to get the most up-to-date information on what is happening in state politics,” Campbell said. “CNI already has a fantastic news team that provides coverage for newspapers across the state. I look forward to helping bring that quality of coverage to TV stations all over Illinois. By expanding into broadcast, we can give people the choice to consume the news how they want to; whether that be by reading it in a newspaper, watching it on TV, or doing both on our website.”
Before working at Gray TV, Campbell worked as a photojournalist at ABC NewsChannel 20, where he covered a variety of local news stories including Capitol coverage.
They’re the latest hires as part of a multimedia newsroom expansion driven by increased funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and the Southern Illinois Editorial Association.
Capitol News Illinois now has a team of eight full-time journalists and two full-time digital professionals. Later this month, the news organization will welcome a reporting fellow through Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, in addition to internships through the Public Affairs Reporting program at University of Illinois-Springfield and a soon-to-be-announced partnership with Southern Illinois University.
“In five years, we’ve grown from a three-person newsroom to a team of 10 – and I couldn’t be more excited about the team we’ve built to report the news,” said Jerry Nowicki, CNI’s editor-in-chief. “These new colleagues and the work they have already begun creating will be a tremendous asset to CNI and Illinois’ news consumers.”
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.