Help Rebellious #SaveChicagoMedia: A Letter from Our Founder

SaveChicagoMedia

Two months—and a lifetime—ago today, I wrote a cheerful Happy Anniversary note for Rebellious and wished you all a Happy International Women’s Day.

To the Karen of two months ago, I’d like to say two things: 1) brace yourself; and 2) you should forsure get that haircut you’ve been putting off.

I don’t need to tell any of you what a wild, heartbreaking, and increasingly turbulent ride these two months have been. For me, the beacons of hope have been my work as co-Editor in Chief of the Chicago Reader, the ride-or-die writers and staff of Rebellious, and the impending launch of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, or CIMA (we pronounce it SEE-ma and don’t care if that’s phonetically correct).

CIMA includes newspapers, radio stations, podcasts, email newsletters, websites and more from across the city, covering nearly every community you can imagine in more languages than I can count. While Reader Publisher Tracy Baim gives me a lot of credit for helping to bring the Alliance to life, the massive fundraising effort that’s being launched today is all her. And none of it would be possible without tireless Reader Media Partnerships Coordinator Yazmin Dominguez.

The monthlong joint fundraising campaign was supposed to happen some time in the future, after CIMA partners had time to get to know each other, maybe have coffee, graduate to lunch, and collaborate on stories.

But time is a luxury we can no longer afford.

Some local media outlets lost upwards of 80 percent of their advertising revenue overnight, even as the COVID-19 crisis increased the need and demand for the information they provide. Foundations have stepped in to replace some of that lost money, and when I can talk about it without ugly crying I’ll tell you about the grant that Rebellious was awarded just this week.

But the rest of our revenue? We’re all counting on you.

If you believe that independent media matters, if you believe that the stories we tell deserve to be told, we’re asking for your support. I can’t imagine a world without these media outlets in it, a world in which only corporate-owned options survive. If we want a future with diverse voices and narratives, and journalism that holds people in power accountable without flinching, we have to invest now, before any more of our colleagues close.

Supporting us is easy, I promise: Visit savechicagomedia.org, and you’ll have two options: 1) Donate to all 43 media outlets participating in the fundraiser; or 2) Choose your own adventure and donate to just a few of us.

Oh, or 3) Just give to Rebellious. We appreciate you.

Foundations have pledged $40,000 in matching funds, and the more we raise, the more we’ll get.

No one knows what the next two months will bring, and I’m grateful every day for my beacons of hope. I can’t wait to see all of you—after a haircut I didn’t inflict upon myself—on the other side of this crisis.

In Rebellion,
Karen

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Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's always wanted to start when he called her “Rebellious” for taking too many weekends off. When she isn't instigating a media Rebellion, she's thanking her lucky starlets she gets to do whatever she wants on weekends.