Columnist Jean Cunningham (front left) staffs the Evanston RoundTable booth with CFO Karen Larkin Young (center) and Marketing Manager Carolyn Lvoff at the Evanston Farmers Market in June. Credit: Evan Girard

I very much appreciate the value the Evanston RoundTable, a nonprofit newsroom, provides by making its online newspaper free and available regardless of one’s capability to pay.

I read the RoundTable to see what is happening: today, this weekend and upcoming. It helps me learn about the people that live in my town: artists, business owners, activists, government officials, etc.

I keep up on the lakeshore and parks, the ever-changing places to eat and shop, local art galleries and organizations and Northwestern University. I like to be in the know about hyperlocal news: city government, police activity and crime, traffic and both agreeable and contentious issues. I always am interested to know how the local schools are doing, even though I don’t have children in them.

The RoundTable’s Art & Life section is full of information about books, weddings, art happenings and so much more. In addition, a column I write, The Art of Making Art, has brought me joy by bringing attention to some of our local artists. I feel I am giving back to my community. I also get a jolt of happiness when I send in a photo from my walks around Evanston and it gets posted in the photos section! I have only lived in Evanston 11 years, and helping the RoundTable makes me feel a little larger part of my adopted hometown.

But what if none of us becomes a paying member or otherwise financially contributes? The RoundTable does not have a self-sustaining endowment. While it does generate some money from foundation-based grants, and accepts limited ads for the website, the RoundTable tries to minimize ads to avoid overwhelming readers. These two revenue sources will never cover the RoundTable’s costs, and without members it would cease to exist because – like all businesses – it takes significant money to pay reporters and staff and maintain a digital infrastructure.

The nonprofit Evanston RoundTable relies on donations. Credit: Ian Mitchell

Why do I care? I read the Evanston RoundTable daily and sometimes check in more than one time a day. I like the RoundTable because it only has information concerning Evanston, my cherished hometown. Well-written, well-researched and timely, the RoundTable strengthens the fabric of our community. Local news has been lost in many communities in recent times as large organizations have bought up local newspapers and thereafter minimized in-depth local information. We cannot let this happen in Evanston.

My husband and I give money monthly, because if the RoundTable were to fold, we would both experience a big loss in our daily life, and there is no way to easily replace it.

Why would you NOT give money to this valuable community resource? It is easy to set up a periodic payment with a membership or donate once. Just go to the link below and become a financial supporter today.

https://evanstonroundtable.com/become-a-member.

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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