The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated media nationwide. Advertising revenues are drastically down, resulting in furloughed and laid-off staffers.
At the same time, the demand for information remains high; readers want to know the status of testing and reported coronavirus cases in their communities.
To sustain publications in an industry already hard hit, many have turned to fundraising.
In Chicago, where revenue has sunk as much as 85%, 43 independent media brands, including Chicago Reader, LaRaza, South Side Weekly, Rebellious and Windy City Times, are waging a fundraising campaign through June 5.
The website — savechicagomedia.org — allows the public to donate to select publications or a general fund that will divide the proceeds.
It includes a wide range of local news publications, including ones that target the Asian American, LGBTQ, African American and Latinx communities.
“We who are in independent media find ourselves in a unique and dangerous economic situation,” stated 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 campaign is being coordinated via the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, which handles grants, advertising and editorial that sustain local media. A one-minute animated video highlights the important of independent community-driven journalism. Amber Huff created the digital and print campaigns.
Several foundations have also committed to The Chicago Independent Media Alliance 2020 Matching Fund at the Crossroads Fund.