In recent years, Chicago has proven its reputation as an exceptional news town — one in which residents care passionately about its future and invest in its success. Our city has become known as a hub of innovation for local news. This year alone we’ve seen a number of great examples: City Bureau’s Documenters program, which trains people to document public meetings, is expanding nationally. Block Club Chicago is building an investigative reporting team. South Side Weekly and the Hyde Park Herald merged to form a South Side–focused nonprofit newsroom.
And in January, the Chicago Sun-Times became a nonprofit newsroom as part of Chicago Public Media.
The nation is watching what happens here to see whether Chicago can be a model for how to defend and rebuild local news. And it’s all thanks to you, the people of Chicago.
Because of you, our great city has a real chance to buck the alarming trend of local news shrinking nationwide. Between late 2019 and May 2022, 360 newspapers closed in the U.S., according to a June report from the Medill School of Journalism. A quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed since 2005, the study found, with two more closing every week — and Illinois has lost the most news outlets of any state during this period. The industry has seen a 70% decline in newsroom employees since 2006. The research also shows that local news really matters. When communities lose their local news coverage, they experience more corruption, pollution and poverty, and even experience a decline in voter turnout.
As a reader of the Chicago Sun-Times, you turn to us for the news you need to thrive. For timely, accurate and fairly reported stories on the issues that matter most. For stories that celebrate and honor the members of our community, from victories on the field to remembrances of lives well lived. Our journalists care about your community because it’s our community, too. And we strongly believe that everyone in the Chicago area should have access to the news, features and investigations we produce, regardless of their ability to pay.
So today, we are dropping our paywall and making it possible for anyone to read our website for free by providing nothing more than an email address. Instead of a paywall, we are launching a donation-based digital membership program that will allow readers to pay what they can to help us deliver the news you rely on.
It’s a bold move: Reporting the news is expensive, and the converging market forces of inflation and an anticipated (or possibly already here) recession could further endanger local newsrooms like ours. But we know it’s the right thing to do.
For the Sun-Times’ next chapter to be successful, it is essential for us to be truly open and inclusive so we can tell the stories that matter to all parts of our community. A membership program connects our revenue model more closely to how well we serve our community, holding us accountable to you, our readers. We think that’s a good thing, because if we’re not serving you, we’re not doing our jobs. So we’re taking a leap of faith and putting our trust in you.
If you love Chicago and believe everyone deserves access to information about our community, from our community, please help us tell Chicago’s stories.
You can participate in two ways: 1) Support the Sun-Times by becoming a founding member today at suntimes.com/member and 2) Submit a letter to the editor about your community based on one of the following prompts:
Your letter to the editor — we’re hoping to get them from all of our city’s great neighborhoods — should be 200-400 words, sent to us at email@example.com.
Or, share your story on social media (in any medium) with the hashtag #CSTforall.
We hope you will join us as we write the Sun-Times’ next chapter together!