thank you #SaveChicagoMedia

When Chicago Reader Publisher Tracy Baim hurriedly gathered the members of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) to launch the month-long #SaveChicagoMedia campaign in May, the fundraising goal was a modest, but ambitious, $40,000.

That would get us the full amount that foundations had pledged in matching funds and be a good showing for our freshman effort as a fundraising collective of 43 media outlets. We were all in the early throes of watching our advertising, event, and other revenue plummet even as COVID-19 made the need for independent news more necessary and vital.

Then the foundation matching fund climbed to $60,000. And Tracy promised a number of increasingly embarrassing (to her) stunts if we raised certain amounts: to wear a dress for the first time since senior prom, to don heels, to dye her hair purple.

CIMA members began their own coverage of the campaign, and other media started to pay attention, achieving our secondary goal of raising awareness about the size, scope, and diversity of what we’ve been calling the city’s independent media ecosystem. 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. 

We blew past the $60,000 goal, then on the last day of our campaign, Friday June 5, we started inching closer to $80,000. Then $85,000. Nearly four hours before our 11:59 p.m. deadline we were at $90,000. Could we do it? Would we make it? As the minutes ticked by, Tracy and I made a pact to pitch in to fill the gap between whatever we raised and the $100,000 mark.

But we didn’t turn the fundraising off at exactly 11:59 p.m., and a few stragglers trickled in. Then a few more. And we were soclose to $100,000 that we made one final push after the deadline and eventually got to an eye-popping $101,000 from more than 1,000 individual donors.


We’ve known that final tally since the first week of June, but I kid you not that it’s taken me this long to do an update because a) the news became even more heartbreaking and this Black lesbian just needed a break, y’all; and b) I’ve been REELING about the donations to Rebellious that put us in the fundraising lead.

Once the final checks are cut, we’ll have raised nearly $20,000 in direct and matching funds, and even typing that makes me tear up.

We have never—and I mean EVER—had that kind of money, and I don’t even have words for how grateful I am. That money represents a gamechanger for me, personally, and for my team of the most dedicated freelancers in Chicago (and beyond).

For me, it means that I won’t have to fund Rebellious almost entirely myself. And for my freelancers, real talk, it means they’ll finally get paid on time. And we’ll all be able to bring you even more of the kind of stories we know you care most about, that we need to tell to feel less alone in the world, or could really use as a break from the other news of the day.

Every penny donated means the world to me. Thank you.

If you needed to sit this fundraiser out, I understand, and I appreciate that you read Rebellious, open our newsletters, click on our ads because you know that helps us, or text me about something you saw here.

Thank you for helping to #SaveChicagoMedia. And thank you for always believing in us.

In Rebellion,

(Photo by Matthew Henry)

P.S.: If you missed the fundraising deadline but would still like to support Rebellious, you can always give to us here.

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...