Illinois is in financial crisis and has been losing residents year after year. But most discussions in the media about the condition of the state focus on Springfield and Chicago politicians, ignoring the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers across the state and their needs and aspirations.
The goal of the series was to figure out a way to provide Illinoisans a voice when they feel like they don't have one. The Forgotten Illinois series reached all parts of the state to do so and profiled struggling downstate communities like Newton, Metropolis, and Decatur; as well as suburban Chicago communities like Harvey, Aurora, and Round Lake. Each of these communities feels the pain of the state’s industrial and population declines.
By creating a series focused on everyday Illinoisans in everyday communities, we can amplify voices louder than the political and media classes. “Forgotten Illinois” made relatable, everyday Illinoisans the center of the story.
We produced a documentary series focused on hardworking Illinoisans that had made the state work for so long - and are now fighting to make it work again.
The series had more than 1.1 million views online and expanded Illinois Policy’s audience size in key communities across the state.
With a mix of short-form documentary, photojournalism and written storytelling, these communities’ stories were brought to more than 1 million Illinoisans. In certain cases – such as Decatur and in Harvey – it profiled issues the areas' elected officials were trying to ignore, and applied pressure on local officials and media.