A recent study found that Illinois has fewer than one statehouse reporter for every 500,000 residents.
The Pew Research Journalism project took a look at statehouse press corps in all 50 states. The population of a state was generally predictive of the size of the reporting pool based in its capitol building. However, when Pew's researchers diced the numbers a different way, they found that states with larger populations had fewer reporters per 500,000 residents than many smaller states. Illinois has 0.9 statehouse reporters per 500,000 residents.
The state with the highest rate of full-time reporters per 500,000 residents (at 10.4) is tiny Vermont, which at about 625,000 residents, is the second smallest state in the nation by population. The smallest, Wyoming, ranks third when population is factored in, with 5.3 statehouse reporters per half million people. Several other states with modest populations round out the top tier: Alaska (5.6); Montana (4.0) and Rhode Island and Idaho (tied at 3.8). The median state rate is 1.3 reporters per 500,000 residents.
Conversely, some of the largest states—with some of the largest statehouse press contingents—end up at or near the bottom in the rankings. California is second in overall number of full-time reporters (43) covering statehouse news for a population of more than 37 million. But that works out to only 0.6 journalists per 500,000 residents—the lowest rate in the nation. Texas, which ranks No. 1 at 53 full-time statehouse reporters, finishes in the bottom half of states by the same measure (1.1 reporters).