The St. Louis Beacon announced it has received gifts and pledges totaling $2.6 million. On its Facebook page, it explained that these gifts and pledges will go "toward infrastructure and technology that will enable [it] to make the dollars [it] raise[s] go further and further."
Part of the $2.6 million comes from a $1.25 million gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, former publisher and editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and founder and chair of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Journalist and Beacon chair member Richard K. Weil and his wife, Josephine gave the publication a $1.1 million gift. The rest of the money, equaling $250,000, was the combined amount from other gifts and pledges.
The Beacon is an online-only, nonprofit publication. Editor Margaret Freivogel and several colleagues started it in April 2008 after seeing a decline in reporting after newsroom cuts. "We saw this as a service to the community, to provide the kinds of in-depth reporting and context... that is being cut back all over the country," she said to American Journalism Review at the end of 2008.
The site presently staffs 21 people, with over 100 contributing freelancers. It focuses on subjects of politics, education, health, science, the economy, arts and lifestyle topics. Currently, the Beacon has a partnership with the Missouri History Museum to take an in-depth look at how class divisions are shaping and affecting the people in the region.
Donations have largely funded the Beacon. It has received several grants, including one from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Pulitzer and Weil have both already donated money to the publication.
"More than three years ago, I began giving time and money to the Beacon because I believed in the community's need for in-depth journalism," said Weil. "The Beacon has gone beyond just providing news to become a part of the St. Louis region in a way none of us foretold. The next few years should be exciting as our top flight journalists and talented business staff work to grow this venture and make it self-sustaining."
In response to the donations, Freivogel said, "Strong journalism and a commitment to covering issues of consequence in the St. Louis region have been our focus from the beginning. These gifts allow us to invest equally in the areas that will support those efforts in an ongoing manner."