Events >

#525 Online: Chicago Independent Media Alliance: Collaborating for a more equitable media ecosystem


Savannah Hugueley, Co-Director of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), she/her
Tracy Baim, Publisher and President of the Chicago Reader & Founder of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), she/her
Yazmin Dominguez, Founding CIMA Director, she/her

The Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a project of the Reader Institute of Community Journalism, is made up of over 60 members representing more than 80 outlets covering the Black, Latinx, Asian American, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and other Chicago-area communities. The alliance members include traditional print newspapers, independently produced podcasts, dynamic video production studios, and nonprofit newsrooms focusing on key issues that affect the fabric of the city.

CIMA’s mission centers collaboration over competition: they use business and editorial partnerships to secure the overall independence of local media for a self-sustaining media ecosystem. Through regular collaboration and the creation of new revenue streams, CIMA uplifts the ecosystem in order to amplify the voices of Chicagoans. Since its founding in 2019, CIMA has helped direct more than $700,000 in funding for its members, through an annual fundraiser, matching foundation funds, and collaboration grants.

In spring 2020, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, CIMA created an emergency joint fundraising campaign for its members. CIMA repeated the campaign the following two years, raising a total of over $515,000 from donations and matching funds from local foundations. The CIMA collaborative fundraiser is unique because donors could choose to donate to a particular organization, multiple outlets at the same time, or have their donation split among the participating outlets. CIMA’s founder, founding director, and co-director will discuss how they organized the campaign. They will share insights into how they managed the messaging, coordinated between dozens of different partners, leveraged matching funds to amplify the work, and more.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.