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January Spring


Sustaining journalism in a pandemic: ‘We need each other’


Members of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance share a laugh during a recent Zoom event to promote the organization. CIMA recently raised more than $160,000 for its member news organizations with a fundraiser that had been planned for 2021 but was bumped way up the calendar because of the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic was having on their revenue.


Fast-tracked fundraiser generates $160K-plus for Chicago media outlets

For Illinois Press Association

CHICAGO – The writing has long been on the wall for plucky, vital weekly newspapers: If new revenue streams aren’t created, the light that media outlets shine on their communities, many of them underserved, will be dimmed if not put out altogether.

Tracy Baim, a legendary journalist who co-founded her first publication in the city in 1985, is the publisher of the Chicago Reader, which has covered the city with a unique literary voice and a fine focus on the arts. Unearthing corruption is a hallmark of the Reader, as well.

“We’ve seen corruption increase, and scandals and politicians that have gone unchallenged,” Baim said. “Corruption loves when newspapers die.”

Seeing the plight of her publications – she also owns the Windy City Times – and her colleagues throughout the city, she hatched an idea last year to form an alliance that would unite outlets in the spirit of collaborating and, in turn, becoming more viable.

The kickstarting initiative for what would become the Chicago Independent Media Alliance, was a mass fundraiser that would happen in 2021.

Then the pandemic hit, and Baim buried the accelerator on a project that was rolling along at a comfortable pace. A website needed to be built, just one of several proverbial plates that needed to start spinning.

“I was really worried it wasn’t going to play out,” Baim said. “Lots of things could go wrong, so all I could think of was the worst-case scenarios. There was a lot of stress because of all the need that was there at a very scary time, and we had three weeks to get ready to launch.”

Not only did it play out; the public donated more than $100,000 – about $40,000 more than the goal. Additionally, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, the Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and two anonymous foundations matched funds to the tune of $60,000.

“It’s honestly way more than we could have expected,” said Yong Lee, marketing manager for the Korea Times which, like the Reader, has been in business since 1971.

He said the Times, which prints in Korean only and serves about 10,000 readers, received about $8,000 from the fundraiser.

Baim said the alliance plans to develop ways for the outlets to raise funds individually, but also as a collective. In the meantime, those looking to support local media may find a list of all 43 outlets at the campaign’s website, savechicagomedia.org.



Yazmin Dominguez (Credit: GlitterGuts)


Fast-riser helms rapid-fire rollout

Baim said the only concerns with the launch were technological. Most notably, the website needed to be built and launched. She otherwise was confident because she had a rising star in Yazmin Dominguez, who’d joined the Reader less than a year ago as an administrative assistant and risen to the role of media partnerships coordinator in six short months. She became the project coordinator of CIMA.

She contacted about 160 local organizations, the list was narrowed to 103, and eventually the alliance had 62 members, 43 of which participated in the fundraiser.

“She masterfully herded cats,” said Charlie Meyerson, who has worked in Chicago media since 1979 and launched the independent news site Chicago Public Square in January 2017. “I’ve been very impressed with the way Yazmin kept the wheels on the tracks.”

“Impressive is not enough,” Lee said. “There has to be another word to describe the awesomeness of how she pulled this off.”

Dominguez said many publications lost 90 percent of their advertising revenue “overnight” – including the Reader, where that loss was more than $250,000.

Ron Roenigk is publisher of Inside Publications, which features three papers on the North Side: Skyline, Inside Booster and News-Star. Much of its revenue vanished along with its summer activity guide.

“Until this year, we had a North Side summer activity guide, and now since there’s no activity, there’s no guide,” he said during one of three Facebook Live videos Dominguez moderated in the last week of the fundraiser, a last-ditch push that she said drove up donations significantly.

Baim said two-thirds of the fundraiser’s donors asked that their contributions be split among the 43 outlets.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “That really shows that people wanted to support a strong journalism ecosystem.”


Jesus Del Toro, director general of La Raza Newspaper, has worked in local media for 16 years, since moving to the U.S. from Mexico. He’s seen damning signs of the times. So while the funds raised can only help, he’s optimistic for what the alliance can mean for local media’s sustainability.

“The most important thing is that the fundraiser is the first step toward a much wider benefit, given the struggle of local media,” he said. “We needed a transformation of the local media model. We need to show advertisers the value of our product, and that they need to preserve it. The fundraiser helped, but of course what’s more valuable is what will happen in the long run, with collaboration and a unified front.”


A future built on trust

It’s a scary place these days. Revenue was dwindling before the pandemic, and the rise of armchair journalists has hamstrung the industry with fake news, Baim said.

In 2019, the Chicago Defender closed its legacy print paper and the weekly Latinx paper Hoy has been shut down by the Tribune.

“We knew before COVID that journalism wasn’t in the best shape in Chicago,” Dominguez said. “A lot of newsrooms are closing – a lot of papers we really admired. We knew we had to do something about it.”

Baim said she’s relieved that, thus far, no CIMA member has had to close its doors or cease production.

Meyerson said media outlets, large ones in particular, have long used the term right-sizing – “which means layoffs, basically,” he said – but like it or not, it’s reality. What’s yet to be seen is what that right size is for the media landscape at large.

“Is it going to be the big companies shrinking, or the small companies growing?” Meyerson said. “This is an opportunity for small, digital organizations to grow. That’s what I love about this campaign. This was a chance for those small organizations to grow. And for the bigger organizations, like the Reader, their audiences can be convinced to get involved monetarily in ways they weren’t before.”

“The fundraiser gives hope for news outlets like ours,” Lee said. “It was completely built on trust. And we don’t even know each other, but we have the same mission.”

“The communities that are most affected, their papers tell a unique story, in an authentic way than the mainstream has never been able to do,” Baim said. “I’m an evangelist for local media of any kind. It could be the only paper in a rural area, or a paper that serves the black, Asain or LGBTQ community. The papers are part of their ecosystem.”

Baim said evidence of fast-built trust is encouraging, given that the alliance was spearheaded by the Reader specifically.

“It’s kind of an odd duck when an alliance is created by one of its members, to have one paper raising money for another paper,” she said. “But we all needed to survive. We need each other.”



The power of good

Baim said feel-good stories do more than make readers … well … feel good. She said showcasing the hard work businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals are putting in to better their communities creates a contagious buzz of good will. And having local media eager to preach the gospel of good not only engenders trust, it strengthens all parties involved.

“We don’t just tell the stories when they’re bad. We tell the stories when they’re good,” Baim said. “When you tell a story about a business, a nonprofit, there are many residual benefits to that. You develop partnerships and allies.”

Dominguez is proud, but not satisfied with the alliance’s immediate success.

“This has been attempted many times in the past, alliances of this sort in Chicago media,” she said. “Now we have a lot of public attention. CIMA is such a baby project right now, and the fundraiser put us in the public eye. Two months ago, only the Chicago Reader and member outlets knew about the alliance.”

A key goal going forward is to create a pooled journalism fund featuring multiple funding streams, including public and private foundations, private donors, and government.

More than half of the alliance’s members are unable to offer insurance to their full-time employees, so a pooled insurance fund for Chicago-area journalists – full-timers and freelancers alike – is in the works.

“We have way bigger goals for 2021,” Dominguez said. “This is just the beginning.”

CIMACampaignPhoto1  CIMACampaignPhoto5




Press Releases




Contact Information:
Joe Bella
(574) 276-1547 

J-Ad Graphics Newspaper Publishing sold to JAMS Media, LLC. and its View Newspaper Group of Lapeer, Michigan


The Jacobs Family has sold its J-Ad Graphics publishing business to JAMS Media, LLC and its View Newspaper Group of Lapeer, Michigan, according to Joe Bella, independent broker with BVC LLC. Joe Bella represented the Jacobs family in the transaction.

Legal details of the transaction were finalized on May 10. Financial specifics have not been made public.  

Weekly production of the Hastings Banner, The Reminder, and J-Ad’s newspapers in Battle Creek, Marshall, and Lowell will continue under the View Newspaper Group name. Based in Lapeer, Michigan, the View Newspaper Group operates primarily on the east side of the state with 14 free circulation and paid subscription community newspapers covering 10 Michigan counties. It prints more than 250,000 copies on both a weekly and daily basis.

According to J-Ad Graphics CEO Fred Jacobs, most employees will be retained though changes are likely in production and delivery operations.

“I realized keeping the business going was becoming more difficult due to rising costs, machine maintenance, and declining advertising dollars,” says Jacobs. “I felt an obligation to do what was necessary to keep our papers going even if it meant selling them to an outside firm."

The purchase of J-Ad Graphics fits the template of the View Newspaper Group, whose exponential growth began in 2003 with the launch of the Lapeer Area View by company President and founder Rick Burrough.

“The Jacobs family has been great stewards of the J-Ad group of newspapers,” states Burrough. “When the family decided it was time for them to sell their papers, they sought us out knowing of our success in the community newspaper business and our reputation for treating stakeholders – readers, advertisers, vendors, and employees – with fairness and respect.”

The Jacobs family was represented by Joe Bella, an affiliate of Business Valuation Consulting LLC. Contact Joe@bellco-llc.com, 1-574-276-1547.




Contact Information:
Rocco D. Biscaglio
(708) 935-8218

Leyden Township Health Fair delivers needed health and wellness services to the community

LEYDEN TOWNSHIP, COOK COUNTY, Illinois - On Saturday, May 18, Leyden Township welcomes all residents to Leyden Township’s second Community Health Fair; making this an annual event after a successful first year. This health fair is designed to integrate health and wellness into the community by connecting residents to all services necessary for optimal health and well-being.

Components of health that will be represented during the fair will be by community partners who offer primary health care and mental health services. Also included are job opportunities, healthy food and clean water options, physical fitness, and safety skills and training. The event is structured to foster connection and awareness between residents and providers of health and wellness service providers in the community.

The Leyden Township Community Health Fair will be held at the Bradley A. Stephens Community Center, 2620 North Mannheim Road, Franklin Park, Illinois, on Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. This will be a free event that is open to the public. The Secretary of State will also be onsite during the health fair, offering Mobile DMV Services to residents with an appointment. Residents can secure reservations ahead of time by calling (847) 455-8616.  

Some of what The Leyden Township Community Health Fair will offer: 

  • Redetermination Information (maintaining health benefits)
  • Vehicle Registration and Driver's License Renewal
  • Various health screenings 
  • HIV testing
  • Healthy Snack options
  • Financial health literacy 
  • Nutrition counseling and access to emergency meals and more!

“My vision as township supervisor is to create a thriving community for all township residents. I found it prudent to prioritize our community’s health and wellness needs and to find community partners with a shared vision and proven track record of delivering positive health outcomes,” said Rocco D. Biscaglio, Leyden Township supervisor.

Founded in 1850, approximately 15 miles from downtown Chicago, Leyden Township is now home to a population of over 90,000 residents. Leyden Township includes the Villages of Elmwood Park, River Grove, Franklin Park, Schiller Park, portions of the Villages of Bensenville, Rosemont, Melrose Park, Norridge, and the Cities of Northlake and Park Ridge. Also included in Leyden Township is a large unincorporated area. The unincorporated area utilizes the Melrose Park Postal Service and uses the Northlake zip code of 60164. The Leyden Fire Protection District and the Cook County Sheriff's Police protect the unincorporated area.






Contact Information:
Alison Maley, government & public relations director
(217) 525-1383

Ready to lead: Illinois School Leader Pipeline participants gear up for hiring season

Springfield, IL – The Illinois Principals Association (IPA) is pleased to announce the first cohort of the Illinois School Leader Pipeline Program (ISLPP). This program aims to identify, develop, support, and sustain diverse aspiring school leaders in preparation for leadership roles. Managed by IPA, the Illinois Council of Professors of Educational Administration (ICPEA), and the Black Educational Advocacy Coalition (BEAC), ISLPP is supported by a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
ISLPP partnered with principal preparation programs known for producing high-quality school leaders to target eligible candidates to build a diverse and skilled pool of future principals. Participants receive tuition support, mentorship from experienced leaders, and financial assistance for substitutes and professional development. Participants also have access to IPA membership, connecting them to Illinois' largest network of school leaders.
Martha Fuentes, ISLPP participant attending Roosevelt University, shared, “I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to go back to school with the aim of becoming an administrator. I am a firm believer that our students, especially students of color, need to see themselves in those that serve them. Having the support from the IPA has been instrumental in my leadership journey. Having a mentor has been such an inspiration, listening to those who were once in my shoes and who have become successful leaders is one of the highlights of the program. I have met so many leaders from all over Illinois who are willing to support me when the time comes for me to become a leader. None of this would have been possible without the SLPP program. Thank you for believing in me and the other 99 aspiring leaders!”
Shaunwell Posely, ISLPP participant attending Governors State University, shared, “My experience with IPA has been truly remarkable. The program has provided me with immense help and support throughout my journey. From the moment I joined, I have been impressed by the commitment and dedication of the IPA team. They have gone above and beyond to ensure that I have the resources and guidance necessary to succeed in my pursuit of becoming a school principal. The program has equipped me with valuable skills, knowledge, and networks that will undoubtedly shape my future career. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the program, and I highly recommend it to anyone aspiring to make a difference in education leadership.”
Kerri Young, ISLPP participant attending McKendree University, shared, “I have always wanted to pursue a degree in school leadership, but the timing was never right, and the additional funds were never available in my budget. This program took the funding issue away, and it was the perfect opportunity to seek an additional degree. The program is one of the best ways to address the current shortages of school leaders our state is facing. By removing the financial barriers and adding additional support to the students in the program, you are making the goal attainable for many teachers.”  
Many participants of the School Leader Pipeline Program have graduated from their programs, or will be graduating soon, and are now seeking administrative positions. To view details about these candidates, including the level of administrative position they are seeking, visit https://www.ilprincipals.org/recruitment_candidates/.
Illinois School Leader Pipeline Program participants include:
Laura Arias, University of St. Francis
Justin Barrington, McKendree University
Leslie Bell, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Damon Belt, Eastern Illinois University
Charlise Berkel, Northeastern Illinois University
Andre Bouey, North Central College
Justin Bozarth, Eastern Illinois University
Tomas Brandt, Governors State University
Summer Butler, Roosevelt University
Lawrence Bynum, DePaul University
Starr Caldwell, North Park University Chicago
Breana Calloway, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sarah Castaneda, Governors State University
Rosalba (Rosie) Conde, Aurora University
Heather Crain, McKendree University
Maribel Diaz, Concordia University
Kayla Elam, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Brock Friese, Eastern Illinois University
Martha Fuentes, Roosevelt University
Ernesto Garza, North Park University
Lisa Green, Governors State University
Tami Harwood, Eastern Illinois University
Samantha Helland, Lewis University
Beth Horn, McKendree University
Jamie Howard Breeden, Governors State University
Robin Hughes, McKendree University
Janet Hurtado, Aurora University
Oraia Jaramillo, Governors State University
Catherine Johnson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Carla Jones, Loyola University
Sarah Jordan, Governors State University
Timothy Kolaczkowski, North Central College
Colleen Kunz, McKendree University
David Lerch, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Lyndsey Littlejohn, Eastern Illinois University
Yvonne Luckey, Condordia University
Brenlin Maple, Governors State University
Dionicia Martinez, Governors State University
Laura-Elizabeth McCabe, Condordia University
Ginny McClure, Governors State University
Amber Medina, Governors State University
Heather Miller, McKendree University
Missy Montgomery, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Maritza Mota, Governors State University
Dustin Murray, Western Illinois University
Joseph Oberts, Northeastern Illinois University
Jasmine Ogunleye, Concordia University
Erica Parks, Concordia University
Megan Perschbacher, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Tessa Pietrantoni, McKendree University
Shaunwell Posely, Governors State University
Katie Prather, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Saddaf Raheel, Northeastern Illinois University
Luz Rangel Raymond, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Katelyn Richert, McKendree University
Silvia Rios, Northeastern Illinois University
Stephanie Roberson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
KimIona Robinson, National Lewis University
Tarah Rottmann, McKendree University
Keva Rush, Rockford University
Sara Schneeberg, Loyola University
MiKala Thompkins, National Louis University
Amie Thompson, Concordia University
Ewa Torres, National Lewis University
Nicole Trovillion, McKendree University
Sharon Turner-Wingba, Governors State University
Esmeralda Velasco, Chicago State University
Sonia Villarreal-Orson, Concordia University
Benay Walker, McKendree University
Janna Walson, Northeastern Illinois University
Alex Washam, McKendree University
Casey Welscher, University of Illinois at Springfield
Ericka Weston, McKendree University
Christine Wolinski, Lewis University
Hui-Chun Wu-Szillage, National Lewis University
Rachel Yaw, McKendree University
Kerri Young, McKendree University
Shannon Zarobsky, University of St. Francis
The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization serving educational leaders throughout Illinois whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.






Contact Information:
Andrew Keith
(312) 248-3208

'Morgenthau' author Andrew Meier to speak at Union League event April 25

CHICAGO — 221B Partners is proud to announce an evening with journalist and author Andrew Meier, to be held April 25, 2024, at the Union League. 

The evening, moderated by Bethany McLean, will include a discussion with Meier on current events in the U.S. and Russia as well as his most recent work, "Morgenthau: Power, Privilege and the Rise of an American Dynasty" (Random House, 2022), a portrait of a German-Jewish immigrant family whose members played key diplomatic and legal roles that helped shape 20th Century America. Henry Morgenthau Sr. made his mark as a real estate mogul who served as U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I. His son, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., served as FDR’s secretary of the Treasury during the New Deal. And his son, Robert Morgenthau, was the longest-serving district attorney in New York City’s history, overseeing many of the city’s best-known cases. 

Meier’s previous works include the award-winning "Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall" and "The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin’s Secret Service." He previously served as a correspondent for Time magazine based in Moscow and also has contributed to New York Times Magazine. His work has been recognized with fellowships from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and the Leon Levy Center for Biography, as well as from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and co-author of "The Smartest Guys in the Room," about the rise and fall of Enron.  

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a conversation with Meier at 6 p.m.; it will be held at the Union League, 65 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Illinois. This event is invite-only. For inquiries about attending, contact 221B Partners at info@221bpartners.com.

About 221B Partners
221B Partners, founded in 2020, is a boutique private investigations firm headquartered in Chicago’s North Side. The firm’s team of experienced professionals assists clients nationwide in a wide variety of case types, including pre-transaction due diligence, litigation support, threat management, internal and external fraud, and background checks. 221B Partners can be reached at 312-806-6257, or at info@221bpartners.com.





Contact Information:
Jann Ingmire
(312) 520-9802

Lake County physician sworn in as president of Illinois State Medical Society

CHICAGO – Piyush I. Vyas, M.D., was sworn in as president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) during its recent annual meeting. He was previously elected president-elect in 2023.

Dr. Vyas received his medical degree from MS University of Baroda in Baroda, India, and completed his radiology residency at Cook County Hospital. 

Dr. Vyas is board-certified in diagnostic radiology. Since 2004, he has been an attending physician at Lovell Federal Health Care Center, where he served as chief of radiology and nuclear medicine until 2018. Since 2018, he has been the associate director, Clinical Support Services. He was also assistant professor of radiology with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science from 2005 to 2016 and served as vice chairman of radiology from 2012 to 2016. Currently he is an associate professor of radiology at Rosalind Franklin and actively involved in teaching medical students. He is also a valued member of the admissions committee at the university. 

He has been an ISMS member for 40 years and has served for many years as an ISMS alternate delegate and delegate to the AMA, as well as a past trustee and chair of the ISMS Governmental Affairs Council. Dr. Vyas served as president of the Lake County Medical Society for two separate terms and served on multiple committees, at the county and state level. He is also a past president of the Indian American Medical Association.

Dr. Vyas’ term as ISMS president will run through April 2025. 

Founded in 1840, ISMS is a professional membership association representing Illinois physicians in all medical specialties, and their patients, statewide.  






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