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Editor’s weekly: Beacon, St. Louis Public Radio merger

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites --

After more than a year of planning together, St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon are in the final stages of moving toward a merger. Approval could come as soon as November. That's when the University of Missouri Board of Curators, the governing body for the radio station, expects to take up the matter.

Why merge? Because working as one we can serve St. Louisans better. Our region is reinventing itself. We want to help by providing deep reporting, thoughtful discussion and interesting perspectives on key questions. We'll also be part of a groundbreaking academic program that involves the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the legendary Mizzou journalism school in Columbia.

How should our region grow? How can we improve education? How are decisions being made? How can we improve our quality of life? These questions are among the most important we'll focus on. Together, the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio can bring more depth, expertise and sustained attention than either can achieve separately. Our coverage of news that matters will help all of us, individually and collectively, to build a better St. Louis.

The digital revolution has wrought huge changes in the way you get news and in the way we report it. News organizations are no longer defined solely by their means of production -- no longer just as a radio station or newspaper. Rather, journalists can use many means to learn from and inform their communities. Working together, the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio will connect with you on air, online, in person, through social media and in other ways. We'll use audio, text, video, photos, data and more.

We welcome you as an active participant in the process. We want you to tell us what you know and what you want to know. We'll be seeking you out as sources and looking for your thoughts in comments and discussions. We hope you'll spread the word about our news coverage and other activities that you value, and we encourage you to share our work.

Read St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby's thoughts on the merger

The merger will not only improve our work but also its long-term financial sustainability. The digital world is great for gathering and sharing news, but it has wreaked havoc on the old business model that used to support good reporting. Together, the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio, with insight from the university, will be building a new economic model for responsible journalism. That effort can make St. Louis a national leader in the reinvigoration of local news.

Recently, Board of Curators Chairman Wayne Goode and University President Timothy Wolfe sent a letter to supporters outlining why the prospect of the merger is so exciting. The new organization will benefit the St. Louis region directly with excellent journalism, they noted, and the academic program will open opportunities for students to gain experience and for research that can be shared.

"The list of partners at both the regional and national levels for this endeavor is amazing. We recognize that the world of media is watching this with keen interest," the letter says. At the Beacon, we deeply appreciate the efforts of so many people whose support and vision have brought us to this point. We look forward to sharing more plans for the new organization as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Margie

Margaret Wolf Freivogel is the editor of St. Louis Public Radio. She was the founding editor of the St. Louis Beacon, a nonprofit news organization, from 2008 to 2013. A St. Louis native, Margie previously worked for 34 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a reporter, Washington correspondent and assistant managing editor. She has received numerous awards for reporting as well as a lifetime achievement award from the St. Louis Press Club and the Missouri Medal of Honor from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is a past board member of the Investigative News Network and a past president of Journalism and Women Symposium. Margie graduated from Kirkwood High School and Stanford University. She is married to William H. Freivogel. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Margie enjoys rowing and is a fan of chamber music.

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