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The St. Louis Beacon was a nonprofit online news organization that covers public affairs, health issues and the arts. It existed from 2008 through 2013, when it merged with St. Louis Public Radio.
The Beacon was launched in 2008 by a group of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters and editors. Its initial funding was provided through grants, including a $500,000 challenge grant from philanthropist, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, the wife of the late former Post-Dispatch publisher Joseph Pulitzer Jr.
A year after announcing its plans, the Beacon formally merged with St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013, with the two organizations’ combined staff working out of St. Louis Public Radio’s offices at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The combined news organization started with 26 journalists, 13 each from each organization. Before the merger, the Beacon had a $1.4 million annual budget and a staff of 18 in 2013, including 14 reporters. It previously partnered with St. Louis Public Radio on both local and Washington coverage.
In 2012, the Beacon launched the Beyond November project with St. Louis Public Radio and the Nine Network of Public Media, funded by a $200,000 grant from the Deer Creek Foundation, focusing on public accountability reporting.
It received a $90,000 grant from the Knight Foundation in 2008 and a $100,000 health reporting grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health in 2009. Most of The Beacon’s funding comes from individual donations, some of it in the form of advertising-like sponsorships from local businesses. It conducted a $4.4 million capital campaign in 2010 and had $2.5 million in net assets as of 2013.
Backfence was a network of user-driven hyperlocal news sites that launched in 2005 and closed in 2007. Backfence was founded in 2005 by Mark Potts and Susan DeFife with five staff members and two community sites in the Washington, D.C., area. It raised $3 million in local and national investment and eventually expanded to 13…