St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Beacon to explore journalism alliance

St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and the St. Louis Beacon will explore the formation of an alliance to better serve the community through journalism.

A letter of intent was signed by Margaret Wolf Freivogel, a founder and the editor of the St. Louis Beacon, and Tim Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio.

The letter expresses a shared belief that the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio can serve St. Louisans better together than they can separately. As a result of this action the two news organizations will begin exploring options for strengthening regional news reporting by using their individual assets in combination.

Both entities are highly successful nonprofit news organizations that have been recognized regionally and nationally for rigorous commitment to high journalistic standards, deep expertise, skillful adaptation in the digital age, and promoting vibrant and thoughtful dialogue and engagement throughout the region.

The two leaders said that in recent discussions it was apparent that the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio share a similar vision and values for serving the community through journalism.

“By combining talents and resources, our organizations will again make this region a national leader in journalism that serves the community,” Freivogel said.

“We see the digital revolution as a historic opportunity to further establish St. Louis as a leader in journalism innovation,” Eby said.

“As we plan together,” he added, “the core idea that will guide us is the question ‘Will this help us better serve the community?’”

The organizations have a successful record of joint news reporting to date, including a Beacon news bureau in Washington D.C. that shares coverage of politics and issues with St. Louis Public Radio, and Beyond November, a comprehensive, in-depth election-coverage project that also includes collaboration with the Nine Network of Public Media.

The potential alliance offers a model for communities across the country that are searching for new ways to expand the flow of high-quality reporting and thoughtful discussion in the digital age.

Expected benefits include increasing each organization’s reach and regional news reporting capacity, as well as enhancing the long-term financial sustainability of both organizations.

“It’s exciting to explore an alliance of two independent news organizations that each possess extraordinary strength, caliber and commitment to the community,” said Richard K. Weil Jr., chairman of the Beacon board. “I see tremendous benefit for our region and communities across the country in our collaboration.”

St. Louis Public Radio and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB are member-supported services of the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

“St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon individually provide robust coverage of the issues and news important to the St. Louis region,” UMSL Chancellor Thomas George said. “Their collective efforts will enhance the region’s journalistic landscape – expanding the news and information available to St. Louisans and learning opportunities for UMSL students in emerging and traditional media.”

Eby and Freivogel said the alliance discussions will be dedicated to improving the St. Louis region by:
• Advancing regional news reporting at a time when many news organizations around the nation are shrinking.
• Engaging people throughout the region and sharing reporting on air, online and in person.
• Encouraging vibrant dialogue and driving innovation with new tools in the digital age.

They noted that their organizations will continue to work in partnership with the Nine Network of Public Media and with other regional and national organizations.

While the letter of intent is non-binding, it authorizes the two organizations to share expertise with each other and develop options for a formal arrangement. Eby and Freivogel expect exploratory discussions to conclude by the beginning of 2013.

St. Louis Public Radio and Quincy Public Radio provide the St. Louis and Quincy, Ill., regions award-winning, in-depth news, insightful discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people who shape our communities, our country and our world. Signature programs include: “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Fresh Air,” “This American Life” “Marketplace,” “Car Talk,” “St. Louis on the Air,” “BBC World Service,” “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” St. Louis Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.7, 90.7-2 and 90.7-3, reaches nearly 235,000 people each week in the bi-state area. Quincy Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.3, reaches nine counties in western Illinois and northeastern Missouri.

The St. Louis Beacon is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to creating a better St. Louis powered by journalism. Founded by veteran journalists in Spring 2008, the Beacon focuses on news that matters to people in our region. The Beacon combines rigorous commitment to high journalistic standards with vigorous innovation in digital and community engagement.


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