The Chicago Reader launched the Chicago Independent Media Alliance in 2019 to help bring together a wide range of local media for editorial and business partnerships. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a sudden and devastating decline in income for many CIMA members, especially those reliant on advertising as a core source of their revenue.
Now, more than 40 of the 60 CIMA members have come together for this first-ever joint local independent media fundraiser. We know people are being stretched in this difficult time. But we also know we need local, authentic media outlets to survive to tell the stories from and for their communities: African American, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, geographic and special-topic media, and alt weeklies like the Chicago Reader.
This month-long campaign ends June 5, 2020. Each of the 43 media outlets will promote it across all of their channels. They will receive your contributions directly, not filtered through any agency. Contributions are not tax deductible. Whatever you give will also in part be matched by local foundations. The Crossroads Fund will host the match. If you are interested in finding out more about contributing to the larger match fund, contact me at email@example.com.
I have worked in Chicago community media since 1984. I know how important the voices of these newspapers, websites, newsletters, podcasts, documentary makers, and radio programs are to keeping our communities informed and our culture amplified. Any amount you can give will help us make it through together.
— Tracy Baim, publisher, Chicago Reader
Unprecedented collaboration includes community and ethnic media from across the city
CHICAGO — Facing drops of revenue as high as 85 percent, 43 independent Chicago media outlets have joined forces to raise funds in a monthlong campaign in May. The for-profit and nonprofit 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 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 in mid-May. “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.”
A one-minute animated video was produced by artist Emma Biancak and narrated by multiple Chicagoans, including Kevin Coval in English and Yazmin Dominguez in Spanish. More translations by media outlets may become available in May. Amber Huff created the digital and print campaigns. The campaign hashtag is #SaveChicagoMedia.
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.
ABOUT CIMA: The Chicago Independent Media Alliance is made up of more than 60 outlets covering the African American, Latinx, Asian American, immigrant, LGBTQ, and other Chicago communities. CIMA believes there is no better way to reach the city’s most marginalized and underserved communities than through community media outlets for and by those communities. We stand for information, accessibility, and equity.
See savechicagomedia.org. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.