Yesterday, St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon became one. We’ve kept you up to date throughout the merger process. But now that the merger is complete, we wanted to take the opportunity to answer your questions.
Director and General Manager Tim Eby, formerly general manager of St. Louis Public Radio, and Editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel, founder of the Beacon, responded to your queries and commented about their vision for the merged organization.
Eby: “We felt there was a real need to provide a stronger local service than what we were currently offering. And the way to do that is through people. You have to have the bodies to cover news. And we could have taken years to grow the capacity of our news organization. But here was the Beacon sitting here doing a lot of the same things that we were doing.”
You can read his FAQ on the merger on the Inside STLPR blog.
Freivogel: “We think we can serve the public better together. And that together, one plus one equals three…Obviously we did not have airwaves before, and we did not have as strong of news report online either as we will now have together.”
On Monday, Freivogel posted her first piece on the stlpublicradio.org website, a welcome letter.
How do you merge the radio and print journalism cultures?
Freivogel: “There will definitely be some learning on all sides from this. But we definitely share the mission and the approach to how we’re covering things. We’re very interested in finding out not just what’s going on but what’s the story behind the story.”
What kind of influence will donors have on your coverage?
Eby: “We have a very strong ethics and firewall policy here, and in fact the building is very symbolic of it…the newsroom is on the third floor, the business side is on the second floor.”
Will there be long-form, in-depth reporting in the future? Will Beacon reporters be on air? What about video?
Freivogel: “Yes, yes and yes.”
What types of issues will be covered? What forms will they be presented in?
Freivogel: "Politics, education, economics, health, science, race, culture and the arts...Between those topics we get back to what is our understanding of this moment in time for St. Louis and our understanding is that St. Louis is trying to reinvent itself."
Eby: “Couple that not only with what you hear on the radio and see on the website but in-person events...We’ll be announcing very soon an event in January, where will be bringing our political team together and talk about the 2014 election.”
The merger also has implications for the broader world of journalism in terms of education and the possibility of serving as a model for other news outlets looking for sustainable business models.
Don Marsh spoke with the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Dean Mills, and the director of the J-Lab in Washington D.C. , Jan Schaffer, to hear their perspectives on the merger.