The News Team

Rebecca Anzel

Rebecca Anzel joined the Capitol News Illinois reporting team on Jan. 7.

She previously reported as an intern from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s Statehouse bureau, were she covered legislative efforts, committee hearings, courts and lawmakers for Illinois’ legal community.

Anzel said the opportunity to work for an organization addressing a growing need for statehouse coverage is thrilling.

“Capitol News Illinois is innovating what it means to inform citizens about their state government,” she said. “The news service is uniquely positioned to bring unprecedented access to information about the governor, constitutional officers, agencies, Legislature and courts to news consumers in all corners of the state through their local outlets.”

In addition to her experience covering the Illinois Statehouse, Anzel also covered county and town governments for a chain of community newspapers on Long Island, and the federal government for a national wire service.

“I cannot wait to combine my experiences with those of Jerry and Peter to create compelling and informative pieces for our readers,” she said. “This is a really exciting moment in journalism.”

Anzel earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield and is a graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism on Long Island, New York, where she focused on multimedia techniques.


Peter Hancock

Peter Hancock will join the Capitol News Illinois reporting team on Jan. 21. Hancock has covered Kansas state government for much of the past two decades. For the past 4 years, Hancock has 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.”


Jerry Nowicki

Jerry Nowicki was hired as a bureau reporter for Capitol News Illinois on Jan. 2.

Nowicki spent the past 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 he looks forward to offering a new view of Statehouse happenings in partnership with local newspapers.

“The launch of 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 will mesh well with the talented reporters that make up our team, and I’m excited to get started.” 

He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Illinois State University and will obtain his master’s degree in communication from Purdue University in May 2019.


Jeff Rogers

Jeff Rogers is the interim bureau chief 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.”



Ben Orner

Ben Orner is a spring intern from the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Ben grew up in the historic town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so it’s probably no coincidence he is a lover of history, civics and service. Ben graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Until joining the PAR program, he was a special projects producer at WILX-TV in Lansing, Michigan. While there, his news producer said, Ben took a leadership role on weekend newscasts. He also has TV broadcast experience in Austin, Texas, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Now, Ben wants to hone his newspaper reporting skills.

“In every story I write, I try to bring context and depth, while making sure my reader knows how the story impacts them,” he said. “I want to use my multi-platform journalism skills to help people understand how governments and institutions affect them.”

In five years, Ben hopes to be either covering a public-affairs related beat for a newspaper or digital news outlet, or working on some type of projects team at a newspaper, public radio station or TV station.

Susan Kirkman Zake, an associate professor at Kent State and the faculty newsroom adviser, has high praise for Ben. “He is the kind of young journalist who makes me optimistic about the future of journalism and its future leaders,” she said, noting that Ben has a “relentless desire to dig and dig until he finds the answers to his questions. … His combination of skills and determination place him in an elite class of students.”


Capitol Cast    



Listen to the latest Capitol News Illinois podcast. A week after the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up a historic special session, the state has entered Phase 3 of the reopening plan. Reporters Peter Hancock, Jerry Nowicki, Rebecca Anzel and Ben Orner analyze the status of the pandemic and how the General Assembly responded to it.


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