Capitol News Illinois to launch broadcast expansion, bolster southern Illinois presence with new hires

cap news expansion

SPRINGFIELD – Veteran journalists Jennifer Fuller and Molly Parker will join Capitol News Illinois’ newsroom this month, expanding the outlet’s southern Illinois, broadcast and investigative presence.

Fuller joins CNI as its broadcast director, bringing more than two decades of experience in Illinois radio, television and digital media to the newsroom as it plans to expand broadcast offerings to the state’s radio and television stations.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to build out the broadcasting operation at CNI. With so many news operations having to make difficult cuts, we can offer trusted journalism with balance, context, and experience to audiences across Illinois,” Fuller said.

Parker joins the news organization to bolster its investigative team, and readers are likely to recognize her byline. It has appeared alongside that of CNI’s Beth Hundsdorfer on the award-winning “Culture of Cruelty” series investigating patient abuse and mistreatment at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois.

“I’ve watched Capitol News Illinois grow over a few short years into a preeminent media wire service that gives readers a critical view inside the state Capitol,” Parker said. “It’s proven itself capable of deeply reported investigative reporting that holds government officials to account. It understands the importance of revealing how government decisions made under the dome are playing out in cities and towns from Chicago to Cairo. The news team isn’t flashy. It’s small but tough and committed to truth and fairness – as a news outlet should be.”

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.

Fuller will oversee CNI’s broadcast operations from her home in Carterville, while Parker lives and works in Murphysboro. Both are graduates of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

Capitol News Illinois now has a team of seven full-time journalists, with reporters residing in five Illinois counties, from Cook and DuPage in the north to Springfield in the center, and Madison, Jackson and Williamson in the south.

“With the addition of Fuller and Parker, CNI adds two powerhouses of Illinois journalism and expands its newsroom reach nearly to the state’s southern border,” CNI Bureau Chief Jerry Nowicki said. “It’s an important step in our ongoing effort to better serve all of the state’s news consumers, and we’re grateful for the news-focused foundations and individuals that have supported these efforts.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom has more than doubled in size since it first launched in January 2019 with three full-time reporters. Its stories have since been published more than 85,000 times in Illinois newspapers.

Fuller has served as the associate director for news and public affairs at Southern Illinois University’s public media affiliate, WSIU, since 2015. In that role, she coordinates Radio, TV and online news – a similar role to the one she’ll play at Capitol News Illinois. 

She has served as a guest lecturer at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a reporter at WTAX in Springfield, in addition to other roles she’s held at the university over the past two decades. She has served as president of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and received numerous professional accolades from entities including the Illinois Associated Press and the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

Fuller will begin at CNI on July 24.

Parker and Hundsdorfer were awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award earlier this year for their monthslong investigations into Choate. Those were conducted while Parker was a member of the Lee Enterprises Midwest Public Service Journalism team. Prior to accepting that position last year, she was a reporter at the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale since 2014. In that role, Parker exposed a housing crisis in Cairo, the state’s southernmost city, that resulted in a federal takeover of the county’s housing authority and the relocation of about 400 people from two dilapidated, WWII-era apartment complexes.

Parker is also an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Illinois University and a distinguished fellow with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, which creates partnerships between nonprofit and local newsrooms. She joins Capitol News Illinois on July 19.

They join a rapidly expanding reporting team that includes Peter Hancock and Nowicki, who have been at the news outlet since its inception; Hundsdorfer, who joined the team in 2021; and Hannah Meisel and Andrew Adams, who were hired earlier this year.

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. Muddy River News LLC also supports their mission.

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