Tag Archives: news



Years ago, before radio and television and the Internet, newspapers were a critical feature in America. For centuries, American newspapers have printed not only the news but also opinion pieces, want ads, lost and found, and obituary notices. They have become a staple in the fabric of our society.

A number of factors have caused a decline in the number and profitability of newspapers. Among these are the loss of much classified advertising and severe drops in circulation.

Classified advertising used to be a significant source of revenue for newspapers especially for jobs, real estate, and vehicles. The article “Decline of newspapers” on https://en.wikipedia.org, describes the current situation: “Free services like Craigslist have decimated the classified advertising departments of newspapers, some of which depended on classifieds for 70% of their ad revenue. Research has shown that Craigslist cost the newspaper industry $5.4 billion from 2000-2007.” In addition, the consolidation of large department stores, which once used substantial advertising, hurt the newspaper industry.

With the advent of cable television and the Internet, newspaper circulation suffered. According to the Pew Research Center’s “Newspapers: Fact Sheet,” weekly circulation of newspapers fell 7% in 2015 and Sunday circulation fell 4%. The article continues, “The newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions, or 39% in the last 20 years.”

You may think that you don’t read newspapers. If you are using Google, you are often reading information gathered and produced by print media. One estimate put the percentage of online news derived from newspapers at 80%. Next time you Google a news item, check the byline. You will be surprised at the source.

“Newspapers are doing the reporting in this country,” observed John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times for five years. “Google and Yahoo! aren’t those people putting reporters on the street in any number. Blogs can’t afford it.” Google and Yahoo! also do not have the expense of union contracts, printing presses, delivery trucks, and other overhead.

The newspaper industry has gone through many ups and downs through the years, and the industry has survived. Perhaps this is just another bump in the road.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video about printing a newspaper, go to Video: A behind-the-scenes glimpse into how this newspaper gets made at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAeeF8Upb-4.


Illinois Cash
Illinois Cash

Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs has reported that the August 20, 2016 live auction of unclaimed property drew more than one hundred bidders from across the United States. Proceeds from the auction totaled $171,550.

Auction items of note included a $1,000 bill that sold for $2,200; Ernie Banks and Al Kaline rookie baseball cards that sold for $600; a 4.36 oz. gold bar that sold for $4,850; and an 1856 Flying Eagle Penny that sold for $9,000.

All auction items had been appraised prior to the August 20 auction. Items which did not meet a pre-determined minimum bid will be available for future auctions.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s office holds more than $2 billion of unclaimed property including lost bank accounts, contents of safe deposit boxes, and proceeds from unclaimed insurance policies of deceased individuals. If the property goes unclaimed for ten years, the items are auctioned. The funds are kept and are available to be distributed to the rightful owner or heir.

To search the unclaimed property database, go to www.illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH. One in four searches results in finding unclaimed property. The average paid claim is $2,900.

—By Karen Centowski


Cash Cow

Since the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle license plate sticker renewal reminders in October of 2015, many motorists missed the deadline for renewing their vehicle license plate stickers. CapitolFax.com has reported that Illinois motorists paid $1.7 million in late vehicle registration fines for the month of March, 2016. The total Illinois late vehicle registration fines paid in 2016 are up to $6.5 million.

By comparison, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office collected $2.2 million in late vehicle renewal fees during the first three months of 2015. Over 247,000 motorists in Illinois received fines for late vehicle registration renewal in the first three months of 2016, compared with 111,000 motorists in January, February, and March of 2015.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office had stopped sending reminder notices to save $450,000 a month during the budget stalemate in Springfield. However, the result has proved very unpopular with Illinois motorists who see this as a cash cow, something which makes a lot of money for the State of Illinois at the expense of the residents. Illinois legislators have responded to the cries of their constituents by introducing a bill to provide relief.

On April 12, 2016, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 4334, which prohibits the Secretary of State from charging fees to vehicle owners who renew their vehicle registration late due to the Secretary of State’s suspension of mailed renewal notices. In addition, the bill provides that a vehicle owner who receives a ticket for expired vehicle license plates within one month of the expiration date does not have to pay the fine if the plates expired during the period in which the Secretary of State had suspended mailed vehicle registration reminder notices.
House Bill 4334 is now before the Illinois Senate. The bill would take effect upon becoming law. However, it is not retroactive to October of 2015 when the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle registration reminder notices.

Meanwhile, set up some system to remind yourself of the time to renew your vehicle sticker. Select a date a month or two in advance of the renewal deadline. Then write this on your calendar, enter it into your Smartphone, put a sticky note on your refrigerator, or tie a string around your finger. Do something to avoid this trap!

—By Karen Centowski


Emission Testing
Emission Testing

 According to the April 6, 2016 online edition of the Chicago Sun Times, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has just announced that it has resumed sending vehicle emissions test reminders to motorists.  The IEPA had stopped mailing reminder notices in December because of the budget crunch.  According to state EPA officials, the testing contractor, Applus Technologies, has agreed to eat the cost of the mailings.

The first reminders to go out will be for vehicles due for emissions tests in March, April, and May.  This includes 498,000 vehicles. The Secretary of State has agreed to extend to June 1 the requirement that the vehicles pass the vehicle emissions test before license plate stickers can be renewed.

CAUTION:  The Secretary of State’s office will still not be mailing reminders for license plate sticker renewals.  A $20 late fee is assessed for failure to renew a license plate sticker on time.

By Karen Centowski