Peter Hancock joined the Capitol News Illinois team as a reporter in January 2019.
Before that, Hancock covered Kansas state government for much of the past two decades. For the previous 4 years, Hancock had been the statehouse reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World. He provided year-round daily coverage of the Kansas Statehouse, state government, appellate courts, elections and Kansas’ congressional delegation. He previously worked for 8 years as a statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, and with the Kansas Health Policy Authority and the Kansas Education Policy Report.
“As a longtime veteran of statehouse reporting in Kansas, I know how challenging it is for individual newspapers to make that kind of commitment,” Hancock said. “Capitol News Illinois offers a unique opportunity for newspapers throughout the state to pool their resources and enable a small team of reporters to deliver critical news and information about state government to communities throughout the state.
“ I covered state politics and government in Kansas for the better part of the past 20 years, working in both print and broadcast journalism. I graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor’s degrees in political science and secondary education. Although I was born and raised in the Kansas City area, I have deep family roots in central and southern Illinois, and so coming to Springfield is a bit like coming back home.”
Sarah Mansur joined the Capitol News Illinois team as a reporter in October 2020.
Mansur previously was the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin bureau chief at the Capitol. She joined the Daily Law Bulletin in 2017 after graduating from the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Before enrolling in the PAR program, Mansur was a reporter for nearly three years for the Daily Dispatch newspaper in Henderson, North Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina.
“I’m excited to join a news organization that values independent journalism and recognizes the importance of providing quality coverage to small, local papers, especially at a time when many newsrooms in Illinois are shrinking in response to budget cuts,” Mansur said.
Capitol News Illinois Bureau Chief Jerry Nowicki said Mansur’s perspective and experience will strengthen the reporting team and help the news service move forward in new and exciting ways.
“Sarah will make an excellent and important addition to the Capitol News Illinois team, allowing us to keep up a continuity of coverage of the Illinois courts and Statehouse that our readers have come to expect,” Nowicki said. “In freelance work she has done for us in the past few weeks, Sarah has already demonstrated a knack for covering stories that have otherwise been overlooked, shedding an important light on a pair of Illinois Supreme Court races that could impact state politics for decades to come. “
Jerry Nowicki is bureau chief of Capitol News Illinois and has been with the organization since its inception in 2019.
Before joining CNI, Nowicki spent two years on Illinois Senate staff as a legislative aide to state Sen. Steve Landek. Prior to that, he was editor of the LeRoy Farmer City Press, which won the 2015 David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy for Illinois’ best small weekly newspaper.
He said Capitol News Illinois offers a new view of Statehouse happenings in partnership with local newspapers.
“Capitol News Illinois provides an exhilarating opportunity to reconnect local newspapers with Statehouse coverage,” Nowicki said. “We know there are many outstanding reporters doing great work at the Capitol, but we also understand that a greater variety of voices is better for our democracy and for our industry. Our team could not be more excited to offer another unique, civic-minded and nonpartisan voice to the Capitol press corps.”
Complementing his Statehouse and reporting experience, Nowicki has lived in a variety of Illinois communities. He grew up in Evergreen Park, a southwest suburb of Chicago, and has lived for a time in each of New Lenox, Bloomington, Champaign and LeRoy. He currently resides in Springfield.
“We have a dynamic reporting team with varying points of view and life experiences,” Nowicki said. “I think my Statehouse and small-town weekly experience meshes well with the talented reporters that make up our team.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Illinois State University and obtained his master’s degree in communication from Purdue University in May 2019.
Raymon Troncoso joined Capitol News Illinois in July 2020 as a reporter via the national Report For America program.
Troncoso is a multimedia journalist who is a graduate of the University of Florida. He reports on how state government and legislation impacts underserved communities. His focus is not only on minority communities, but also the many rural communities throughout Illinois that feel disconnected from what happens at the Capitol in Springfield.
Report For America is a national service program that places talented, emerging journalists into local news organizations to report for one to three years on under-covered issues and communities. An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, Report For America addresses an urgent need in journalism at a time when news deserts are widening across the county, leaving communities uninformed on local issues and threatening our democracy like never before.
Troncoso said he believes in RFA’s mission, shared by Capitol News Illinois, of strengthening communities and democracy through local journalism. He recognizes how the continued reductions of newsroom resources have impacted communities and democracy.
“This has led to news deserts, and in many areas of the country one of the most prominent news deserts is coverage of state governments,” he said. “People simply don't know what's going on in their own state because news outlets can't afford dedicated coverage of the capitol. That's why I joined Capitol News Illinois, because it's doing essential work, providing a service that benefits the entire state."
Jeff Rogers is the editor of Capitol News Illinois. He has been director of the Illinois Press Foundation since October 2018.
Before joining the Foundation, Rogers had been a newspaper editor in Illinois and Wisconsin since 1994. He was editor of daily papers in Freeport and Galesburg in Illinois, and in Monroe, Wisconsin. He also was editor of the Freeport iNK weekly newspaper from 2003 to 2005. For the past 9 years, Rogers was editor of the Daily Gazette of Sterling and the Telegraph of Dixon, daily paper owned and operated by Shaw Media.
Rogers is a 1988 graduate of Bradley University in Peoria. He grew up in Lanark, in northwest Illinois.
“Having been in newsrooms since graduating from college, I have a strong sense of how Capitol News Illinois can help newspapers across the state,” Rogers said. “This is an exciting opportunity to help the industry in Illinois by providing coverage of state government that most of our newspapers are not getting. In the bigger picture, it’s an opportunity to help Illinois residents reconnect with their state government.”