by Fred Kuhr
Rather than go it alone — and facing drops of revenue as high as 85 percent — Chicago’s venerable Windy City Times is taking part in a joint fundraising effort with over 40 other alternative and ethnic media outlets based in the city and its suburbs. The month-long effort is being hailed as “unprecedented” by those involved.
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, such as Windy City Times.
“We who are in independent media find ourselves in a unique and dangerous economic situation,” said Tracy Baim, publisher of the mainstream alternative weekly Chicago Reader. She’s also the founder — and former publisher and executive editor — of Windy City Times. “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 non-profit newsrooms belong to CIMA, which is coordinating grants, advertising, and editorial projects to assist in strengthening the local media landscape.
“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, in both English and Spanish. More translations by media outlets may become available this month. The campaign hashtag is #SaveChicagoMedia. The videos are available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3ZNZ5FHPZw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc_WNf6EFq8
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