Join the Riverfront Times Press Club, Support Local Journalism, Get Free Stuff

Apr 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm
click to enlarge Stay strong, St. Louis. Join the RFT Press Club. - RIVERFRONT TIMES
Stay strong, St. Louis. Join the RFT Press Club.

A few weeks ago, a guy emailed me to ask if he could have one of our newspaper racks for a well-intentioned DIY project. He thought we were toast. Who needs newspaper racks if you can’t print a newspaper, right?

I couldn’t fault the reasoning (although give us a minute, bud). Just two days before, we had been forced to lay off five of the seven people in our newsroom after the coronavirus blindsided the bar and restaurant industry, wiping out the majority of our ad sales within a day or two. I always thought it would be a vengeful billionaire who would try to take us out, but it turns out that a global pandemic that moonlights as an economic arsonist is a pretty nasty enemy.

So a lot of people thought we were dead. But even as that emailed request for a bit of our carcass hit my inbox, we were already back to work on that week’s print edition. We haven’t missed an issue yet. It has taken a massive effort, and much of the work has been done by our laid-off writers and editors who just refused to quit. I ask you to think about that for a minute: How many people are so dedicated that they would come back to work for free literally the day after they lost their jobs? Now think about this: Do you want to see people who are that passionate continue to make the Riverfront Times?

You can help us do that. We are starting the Riverfront Times Press Club, betting that we are not the only ones who believe in this paper and want to join in rebuilding it. Over the next six weeks, we are trying to raise $50,000 to continue to claw through the pandemic.

Once we’ve made it out on the other side of this financial disaster, we are hoping to rehire our staff and fund projects by our dedicated freelancers, who are writing stories you absolutely will not see anywhere else. Through their donations, members will play a crucial role in preserving one of the few truly independent voices in St. Louis media. They'll also be rewarded with prime access to our events and concerts (when we can all go out again), swag from us and our partners, restaurant deals, a membership card and insight into what is we do here. And, yeah, we're working on some RFT T-shirts. You can join by going to our Support Local Journalism page.

I’ll tell you the truth, we are fighting for our life right now. This is a rough business even in the best of times, but it is the worst of times when St. Louis needs journalists the most. Our writers, editors and designers scour the darkened corners, make the phone calls, knock on the doors to do some of the finest in-depth stories being produced today.

Long-form features have been our calling card for decades, even as newspapers and magazines across the country have decided that kind of labor-intensive reporting and storytelling wasn’t in the budget. Frankly, it often has not been in our budget either, but we make it happen week after week. We’re a group of people who know how to turn every dollar into journalism.

Maybe you read the RFT because you’re into music and our writers introduced you to a few of the local bands you now can’t wait to see again, or you read it because we’re one of the only sources for news on St. Louis’ complex and fascinating arts scene. Or maybe you trust Cheryl Baehr to show you where to eat or grab a drink. Maybe you just think we’re funny.

I can’t tell you how many people have contacted us because something just sounded like an RFT story. And I’ve had more than a few reporters from other outlets tell me with no small amount of jealousy that their bosses would never let them get away with the smash-mouth headlines or the time spent on the multipage investigations regularly found in our paper and on our website. It scares me to think of the stories that would go uncovered, the angles missed without our paper. If you want to see that work continue, please contribute to this weird, wonderful newspaper that St. Louis needs now more than ever.

— Doyle Murphy is the editor in chief of the Riverfront Times.

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