Merger between St. Louis Beacon, St. Louis Public Radio gets closer

St. Louis Beacon

University of Missouri curators will likely approve the merger of St. Louis Public Radio, which the university owns, with the nonprofit news site St. Louis Beacon, Dale Singer reports. The combined organization, which has no name yet, will “cover local news online, on the air, on social media and on any new technologies that come up,” Singer writes. St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby will manage the combined operation. Employees of the new organization will work for the University of Missouri.

The combined news organization will also provide opportunities for student work in “urban journalism,” Singer writes. Dean Mills, the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo., tells Singer “this will probably lead UMSL to engage a little more in what we call professional journalism education.”

The Beacon ran at a deficit of $890,353 in 2011, according to its most recently available IRS filing, and had a little over $2.5 million in assets at the end of that year. St. Louis Public Radio had a surplus of $200,000 in fiscal 2012, according to its last annual report. A consultant’s report on the proposed merger found “very little overlap” between the two organizations’ donors as well as “very low” digital revenue, “because there has been very little focus on this revenue stream. Focusing on digital should result in rapid percentage growth from this low base, but it will take time to mature it as a serious contributor to sustainability.”

In July 2012, the University of New Orleans and NPR announced the creation of a multiplatform news nonprofit but later revised those plans in a somewhat dramatic manner, handing off newsgathering functions to the New Orleans news nonprofit The Lens, which was originally slated to be a content partner for the site.

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