"We care a great deal about what goes on here and the quality of information that's available to people and then you have at the same time this tremendous opportunity with the creation of the internet and the beginning of an online news medium where the constructure is entirely different so the economics are very different to begin with and then more than that you've got the opportunity to work in a medium that is fundamentally interactive with the people who use it. It is a very different kind of medium, very exciting medium that has tremendous potential as a news source."
Freivogel in conversation with the MGP.
April 23, 2009
While there, Densmore did a video interview with Margie Freivogel. You can watch the edited version by clicking on the link below her picture. She talks about the point when they decided to start the website, and some of the thinking that went behind it. She says that ultimately what they're doing is helping the community talk to itself. Near the end, she talks about her inspiration for doing this:
"It's just really exciting for so many different reasons. First of all, to get a chance to do journalism the way we think it ought to be done is just a wonderful opportunity. Secondly, to feel like we're helping to invent the future of journalism, that just feels like a privilege, and to be at a place where so much of journalism is in a mode of shrinking and cutting, to be somewhere where we're building, and where it's easy to try new ideas and where everyone is full of good ideas of what we can do. I've just never been happier in my work then where I am now."
May 09, 2009
"Well, we are only a year-old, it hasn't been a long process. We started working on the Beacon about a year and half before we launched it, and then we began hiring people last spring, so we started with a smaller number and added to it as the year went on"
With the website, they want a regional online publication, and also a place to encourage community interaction and contribution. There are three ways that allow for this to occur. First the Beacon uses several freelance writers; in fact in the last year they have had more than 225 different people contribute to the site in several different ways. With each freelance contribution the site acquires different views and different styles. A second way that outsiders can affect the content is by commenting on the articles, which can be done if they register with the site. The last way is the utilization of the Pubic Insight Network. Minnesota Public Radio started this network and the Beacon has access to the database tool through a partnership with Channel 9. The database is a list of people who want to be sources for the Beacon (or whoever is using the tool) and it tells who they are, what they are an expert in, where they live, what they do and what hobbies they have and so on. The Beacon can utilize anyone in this group to ask for ideas or to ask about their experiences. It is a way to broaden the source base.
"I think we bring a knowledge of the community to this that is missing from many publications."
Freivogel also hopes to encourage others and teach others about the Beacon and its mission. If an understanding of this new journalism outlet can be reached by others, then perhaps the outlook on the future of journalism will be more optimistic. Freigvogel stated her opinion on the future of journalism:
"I'm very optimistic about how it all eventually could play out, but at this point I don't think anyone can exactly see what that is going to look like a few years from now."
She hopes to teach others and encourage them to take action if they believe in something like the Beacon. The whole point of a website like the Beacon is to foster on-going conversation and have a place where people can find a good recording of what is going on in the community and discussion about that. By going out and talking to people in the community and helping them gain an understanding of the web, digital media and other outlets like the Beacon, Freivogel and the rest of the staff hope to encourage action and get people started in accepting the new media sources.
"Its just an important time for people to try things to jump in and if they believe strongly that this kind of thing is important to just put some energy behind it and make things happen and that's what we're doing. "
Dec. 17, 2008. St. Louis Beacon is one of four community news sites to win a Knight Foundation Grant. The $90,000 will go to expanding staff and increasing local coverage. By awarding money to innovative local sites, the Knight Foundation is trying to help fill in the gaps created by the faltering newspapers.
From the Knight Foundation announcement: The grants aim to help the non-profit sites draw a larger audience by providing more local news, a key to their long-term viability... The grants are part of Knight Foundation's efforts to help find new, sustainable models for delivering news and information in the digital age. Knight has invested $100 million in media innovative initiatives.
Read the St. Louis Beacon press release about the Knight Grant here.
Missouri native Margaret Freivogel is a veteran journalist who graduated from Stanford University and is married to William H. Freivogel. Between the two, they have four children.
Freivogel began her journey in the world of journalism by becoming deeply rooted in the St-Louis Post Dispatch where she served as a reporter for 34 years. Following this, she was a Washington correspondent and editor. In her time at the Post Dispatch she showed great interest in areas such as, features, sports, as well as, national and world coverage.
Freivogel was also elected president of the Journalism and Women's Symposium, a national organization. Freivogel has been intensely devoted to journalism; she said her philosophy is to present news that matters. She believes in informing the community of Missouri through in-depth, continuous coverage of news that is essential to everyday lives.
Freivogel's deep roots in her community and promise of providing quality information to the people have been recognized by many. She received an award for her renowned reporting in women in politics; something she was deeply passionate about. Furthermore, for Freivogel's great contribution to the field, she was honored with the National Press Club Washington Correspondent's Award. Her drive and undeniable fervor for writing has been acknowledged and much appreciated by many.
Currently, Margaret Freivogel is the founder and editor of the St. Louis Beacon, formerly the St. Louis Platform. Freivogel described the commencement of the site as being composed of a multitude of long-time dedicated journalists who were extremely interested in informing the media of vital news.
"We realized that the economics to support traditional media were falling apart" said Freivogel regarding the path of media today. Freivogel mentioned that she hadn't realized we were actually in the position to do something about it."
These journalists recognized the transition of the media into an age of web media. They demonstrated enthusiasm for creating an instantaneous and continuous flow of news through their web site.
"We saw the opportunity to be both instantaneous in the way you present news and also at the same time to have the content and continuity that is very hard to achieve in either print or broadcast," said Freivogel. She realized that they had the experience and deep roots, and that the timing was right to start their own web page which they would revolve around "news that matters."
The site's mission is to allow for a common place for the community to be able to analyze and discuss relevant news. Although, many are not aware of the web page just yet, they are just starting out and are eager to inform the community that the establishers are so deeply rooted in.
The upkeep of the site relies on a group of journalists as well as a general manager and a presentation editor who also greatly contribute to the web site. The site was established with support from a range of pledges and donations. Freivogel explained that she feels "tremendous responsibility to use the money wisely." The St. Louis Beacon's two biggest contributors are a challenge grant from Emily Pulitzer as well as a donation over two years from William Danforth. These two are just a few of many who are involved with supporting the web page.
Overall, Freivogel has many plans to expand the web site and is anticipating the St. Louis Beacon to enable her community to discuss and analyze relevant news.