By: Margaret Wolf Freivogel, St. Louis Beacon
As one of the largest regional nonprofit news organizations in the country, the St. Louis Beacon is both similar to and different from the websites the Knight Foundation reported on in New Voices: What Works.
The recent Knight report summarizes the aspirations and difficulties of several dozen community-based sites. Like them, the Beacon aims to serve the public by reporting on significant issues that no longer or never did get the journalistic attention they deserve. Politics, education, the economy, health, race and the arts are among the topics we cover regularly.
Unlike the smaller organizations in the report, the Beacon focuses on news that matters to the St. Louis region – not just to one neighborhood or town.
We think of ourselves not as an online newspaper but as an organization that works in many ways to connect St. Louisans with credible information and to encourage thoughtful discussion.
In addition to our website (stlbeacon.org), we organize events, communicate through social media, recruit a broad source base through the Public Insight Network and work with partner organizations, including KETC/The Nine Network, St. Louis Public Radio and the Missouri History Museum. Our goal is to connect with people where they are in ways most convenient to them.
We bring an unusual combination of resources to the task, including veteran journalists and experts in business and digital technology. And we have innovative plans to make the Beacon journalistically vibrant and economically sustainable – the goals all news organizations are now seeking.
Our innovation will be funded in part by a recently-announced $1.25 million grant from the Danforth Foundation. This grant is further evidence of strong support St. Louisans and St. Louis foundations have given the Beacon since our launch nearly three years ago. Together, the Beacon and our supporters are building a new kind of news organization that can help invigorate our region while setting a national example others can follow.