Unprecedented collaboration includes community and ethnic media from across the city
Facing drops in revenue as high as 85 percent, 43 independent Chicago media outlets joined forces to raise funds in a month-long campaign in May. The for-profit and non-profit organizations represent a wide cross-section of authentic community media in the city and nearby suburbs.
The public can give at savechicagomedia.org through June 5, 2020. The website offers the option to donate one amount to be split among all of the outlets, or donors can select one or more outlets to give a specific amount to.
“We who are in independent media find ourselves in a unique and dangerous economic situation,” said Tracy Baim, publisher of the Chicago Reader. “In response to COVID-19, national news outlets are tallying death tolls and assessing the situation globally. While that coverage is important, it leaves the average citizen confused and unsure of how to proceed within their community.”
The Chicago Crusader Newspaper Group is a part of this mission to ensure the continued reporting of information to the African American community. This is especially true in light of the disproportionate number of deaths and cases in the Black communities from COVID-19. “For 80 and 59 years respectively, the reporting in the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader newspapers has had its thumb on the pulse of the African American community. We have shown ourselves to be uniquely qualified to present the concerns of said communities not only to those targeted areas but to mainstream readership, as well,” said Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader newspapers.
The campaign is being coordinated by the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a project launched in 2019 by the Chicago Reader. Sixty media companies and nonprofit newsrooms belong to CIMA, which is coordinating grants, advertising, and editorial projects to assist in strengthening the local media landscape.
CIMA’s goal is to lift all boats through partnerships. Donations are not tax deductible, but those wishing to provide money to a pooled matching fund can donate to The Chicago Independent Media Alliance 2020 Matching Fund at the Crossroads Fund. Several foundations have already committed to donating to the matching fund, and full details on the match will be available.
“Local media outlets deliver authentic, community-driven journalism, reporting on the stories that matter most for communities largely affected by this, and future, health crises,” said Yazmin Dominguez, CIMA project coordinator. “Unfortunately, community media outlets are not getting the resources they need and are thus facing the real possibility of closure. This includes media serving African American, Latinx, Asian American, immigrant, LGBTQ, and other Chicago communities.”
CIMA is a national partner with the Center for Community Media (CCM) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in CUNY. While CIMA is focused on boosting local media it has the potential to inform the nation on Chicago’s media landscape via its partnership with CCM.