Lee Medal honors supporters of unique media merger

2014 Lee Medal

Representing the St. Louis Beacon and its supporters, Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Richard Weil (center) accept the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Medal for Philanthropy from UMSL Chancellor Tom George during the annual Founders Dinner Sept. 26. (Photo by August Jennewein)

It’s been less than a year since the St. Louis Beacon joined journalistic forces with St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU, but the region is already feeling the impact of the local NPR affiliate’s expanded newsroom.

The two organizations officially merged last December, integrating 13 veteran journalists from the Beacon, an online, nonprofit news service, into St. Louis Public Radio, a service of the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The merger has effectively doubled the station’s capacity to provide news coverage, and record numbers of listeners and readers are clicking and tuning in.

“This has greatly extended the reach of our public service and enhanced our ability to help people become deeply informed about the issues that matter to them,” said the station’s general manager, Tim Eby.

He noted that in August, more than half a billion people visited the website (stlouispublicradio.org) to access the station’s in-depth coverage as events in Ferguson, Mo., put the St. Louis region in the spotlight around the globe.

The first such merger of its kind, the endeavor was made possible through generous contributions from the St. Louis community, including a lead gift of $1 million from Emily Rauh Pulitzer. Fellow donors contributed another $2 million, together providing $3 million to support the merger.

The Beacon and its supporters were honored with the 2014 E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Medal for Philanthropy at the annual Founders Dinner on Sept. 26.

The Lee Medal was created in 2006 to honor Des and Mary Ann Lee for their extraordinary philanthropic support and visionary leadership of the university over the years. The Lees were the first recipients of the medal. It is awarded annually to individuals whose generous support has touched the lives of UMSL students, the university and the greater St. Louis area in exceptional ways.

Founded in 1972, St. Louis Public Radio is located at UMSL at Grand Center, 3651 Olive St. in St. Louis, which houses university classrooms in addition to the station. Grand Center is the region’s largest arts and entertainment district.

Learn more about the positive impact of the merger at the NiemanLab website.

To view a short video that debuted at the Founders Dinner, featuring a handful of new UMSL students, click here or below.

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