On April 15, Evanston RoundTable Media NFP (RoundTable NFP) was incorporated as an Illinois non-for-profit corporation, and it has since taken over the operation of this news site, formerly operated by the Evanston RoundTable LLC.
Many people who have worked as editors and journalists for the Evanston RoundTable for years will continue on. But as has always been the case, new faces will appear and join our efforts to provide high quality, independent local journalism to our vibrant and diverse community. The major differences will be in the corporate structure and the expansive circle of people involved.
We remain committed to providing high-quality journalism to keep the community informed on what is happening in our City and School Districts. We plan to write in depth articles on important issues facing the community and explore how other communities are addressing similar issues and what experts in the field suggest. We plan to continue writing about people, the arts, businesses, and community organizations that form the fabric of our community.
Our goals are to better inform the public and foster civic engagement, to empower people to address the complex societal issues we face, to promote a better understanding and appreciation of people of all races/ethnicities and income levels, and to hold governmental bodies accountable.
Building on the RoundTable
We will continue and build on the journalism of the RoundTable.
The Evanston RoundTable LLC was founded in 1998, publishing a print edition as a free, every-other-week newspaper. In 2008, it launched its online news site. From the beginning, the RoundTable has been a free paper so that it would be available to all residents of Evanston.
Over the years, the RoundTable has developed a strong reputation in the community for its in-depth, objective coverage of Evanston’s City government, schools, social issues, arts and culture, and sports. The paper and its reporters, editors and designers have received nearly 200 journalism awards from journalism associations and local organizations. For a summary of some of the awards, click here.
Last year, it became apparent that advertising revenues would no longer be sufficient to sustain a print edition of the paper, and the RoundTable LLC suspended the print edition in November. With a concentrated focus on digital reporting, the RoundTable LLC has continued to cover Evanston in its online paper, and traffic to its website more than quadrupled in the subsequent six months. Even this has been a financial struggle.
But the task now is to ensure a strong, sustainable future for high-quality journalism in the Evanston community that is free and available to everyone, and that focuses on important issues facing the community. Conversations began about crafting a plan for that future and turning it into a reality.
A key part of the plan was to form a not-for-profit corporation to operate the RoundTable’s online site and to explore bringing back the print edition of the paper. Many communities throughout the country see the not-for-profit route as the only viable way to save local community newspapers. The RoundTable NFP plans to file an application with the IRS for Section 501(c)(3) status, which, if granted, will allow donations to be tax-deductible. That process, however, has been slowed by the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The RoundTable NFP
The RoundTable NFP has a “launch board” that will govern the new organization on a transitional basis. This Board is composed of a small group of people, almost all of whom have worked extensively with the RoundTable LLC in the past. Their past experience will help ensure a smooth transition to non-profit status and the continued operation of the online news site during the transition. The Board members are Ellen Galland, Larry Gavin, Mary Gavin, Mark Miller, Tracy Quattrocki, Heidi Randhava, and Victoria Scott. Short bios are available here.
The RoundTable NFP has also formed an Advisory Committee. More than 30 people have agreed to serve on the committee, all of whom have significant ties to Evanston. The members come from a range of cultural and racial backgrounds, and their skills include teaching, attentive listening, problem-solving and consensus-building. Many are current civic leaders; several are current or former educators or journalists; two are former school board members. Some have contributed to the RoundTable over the years. The array of talents, their dedication to their professions, and their commitment to the community of Evanston are consolidated in their support of RoundTable NFP.
The Advisory Committee members are Derrick Blakeley, Ray Boyer, Marianna Brady, Omar Brown, Alan K. Cubbage, Pam Cytrynbaum, Julie Cowan, Dave Davis, Vicente De La Cruz, Peter De Jong, Doug Doetsch, Marcelo Ferrer, Marya Frankel, Anna Galland, Dave Greising, Laura Hohnhold, Pat Hughes, Mark Jacob, Les Jacobson, Kathy Kastilahn, Sharon McGowan, Therese McGuire, Marianne Moberly, Dick Peach, Nicki Pearson, Lindsay Percival, Ravi Randhava, Bob Reece, Richard Rykhus, Oliver Ruff, Gerri Sizemore, Peter Slevin, Ingrid Stafford, and Karen Young. Short bios are available here.
One important role of the Advisory Committee is to provide input to members of the Board and/or the editorial staff about ways to improve the educational value of the paper and about trends, ideas and important and emerging issues in the community. The Council will also further the connections of the paper to the community, and help ensure the paper is addressing issues with a lens on social justice and equity.
The RoundTable NFP will help build a sustainable financial base. If it receives Section 501(c)(3) status, it will be able to apply for grants and, it is hoped, receive increased donations. We also believe a not-for-profit organization will provide a structure to ensure continuity of this valuable community resource, allowing us to pursue and expand our mission of educating the Evanston community.
We hope you will become a supporter of our efforts. To become a supporter, click here.
Update on June 15: The Evanston RoundTable Media NFP filed an Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code on June 15, 2020.