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Editor's Weekly: Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio are one

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dear Beaconites,

Today, we celebrate the merger of the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio. Our new organization will serve our fellow St. Louisans with facts and fairness. We'll not only report what happens but also explore why, so what and what's next. We believe our work can help light the way to a better region.

As Beacon readers well know, the two organizations have been exploring an alliance for more than a year. This morning, the merger got final approval from the University of Missouri curators. The university system owns the station, and the university campuses in St. Louis and Columbia will be partners in the new endeavor.

Many details remain a work in progress, including our name. But our purpose and principles are clear — to provide the solid reporting and thoughtful discussion St. Louisans need to understand the problems and opportunities we face. Our region is reinventing itself. So are we.

Beginning Dec. 10, you'll see some big changes. The Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio staffs will combine. That means a deeper newsroom to report with the context and attention to significance that you've come to expect.

You'll hear our work at 90.7 FM and see it on one combined website. We'll be reaching out to you as well in social media, email and through events. Through our Public Insight Network and in other ways, we'll be stepping up our efforts to learn what you know and what you want to know.

Nearly six years ago, the Beacon's first staff members set up shop at the Nine Network of Public Media in a partnership that will continue as we move next door. In those first days, we worked off borrowed folding tables with laptops and cell phones. When we told people we intended to do serious news coverage as a nonprofit online-only organization, many were puzzled.

It's obvious now that a multimedia world offers tantalizing opportunities for journalists to serve the public better. But too often, those opportunities are squandered in sensationalism and inanity. The search continues for the best tools, tactics and business models that will enable serious journalism to thrive in the digital world.

Our new organization will bring new resources to this quest. Most important among them is the extraordinary support that St. Louisans have given both organizations. Thank you for making this journey possible and for taking this next step with us.

The challenges facing news organizations and the public we serve are especially difficult — and especially important -— in metropolitan regions such as ours. It is  divided by geography, jurisdiction, ideology, race, class, history and more. Insightful news coverage is one of the few ways to bridge this fragmentation with understanding.

Our new organization holds great potential — not only for St. Louisans but as a national model. Thinking about our mission, we put the opportunity this way:

"A vigorous, powerful, forward-looking news organization can light the path to a better St. Louis and lead the way nationally in reinventing journalism as a trusted partner in a better democracy. We pledge to create a common space where fairness and facts prevail, where our region as a whole benefits from the effort and experience of people in its many parts, and where St. Louisans connect with each other, our nation and world. At a time when other news organizations are shrinking, we embrace the opportunity to make public service the focus of our work and the foundation of a strong and sustainable future."

We hope you're as excited as we are to see this mission go forward.

Sincerely,

Margie

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