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UM Board of Curators approves merger between St. Louis Beacon online newspaper and St. Louis Public Radio

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Nov 22, 2013

Four-way partnership to spur new academic and research initiatives between merged news outlets, UMSL College of Fine Arts and Communication, and MU School of Journalism

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – An initiative to merge a non-profit, startup online newspaper with an established public radio news organization has been approved by the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

The merger between the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio, which will create an innovative new partnership between the two news organizations and the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) and School of Journalism at the University of Missouri – Columbia (MU), is expected to trigger exciting new academic and research initiatives.

St. Louis Public Radio is one of four National Public Radio stations that are owned by the Curators of the University of Missouri. The other three are located on the system campuses in Columbia, Kansas City and Rolla. Each station is largely self-sustaining from contributions from donors and listeners, with a small percentage of funding from the university’s operating budget. Funding for the merger will come from outside donations.

“The cutting-edge new partnership between St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon follows a new model that represents the future of media and journalism, while also providing new opportunities for students and faculty,” said Wayne Goode, Chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “By combining these news organizations with UMSL’s College of Fine Arts and Communication and MU’s School of Journalism, we will maximize the research and academic potential of our journalism and communications disciplines.”

“We’re creating a national model for a sustainable, multi-platform news operation that can provide in-depth coverage of issues important to a vibrant democracy and flourishing region,” UMSL Chancellor Thomas George said. “We’re also developing unique opportunities for UMSL and MU students to learn and apply issue-based journalism in an urban setting across multiple delivery platforms. The potential for collaborative academic programs emanating from this partnership is as exciting as it is limitless – including social media, public relations, journalism and nonprofit business management.”

The new four-way partnership will allow for new initiatives, including interdisciplinary academic enhancements and value-added opportunities for existing degree programs across public relations, advertising, communication, graphic design and media studies, utilizing the Grand Center at UMSL as a base plus embedded online courses. UMSL and MU are also cooperatively investing further convergent media opportunities and research in emerging technology and interactive design, where best practices learned from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU are being used to develop models for sustaining quality, multi-platform journalism in metropolitan areas.

“Joining two quality institutions that are currently providing first-rate journalism augurs well for the future of maintaining and increasing informed and thoughtful St. Louis citizens,” said Emily Pulitzer, a major benefactor and proponent. “The curators of the University of Missouri System are to be commended for their support of an effort that will put Missouri in the forefront of journalism and convergent media.”