The Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) was created in 2019 by the Chicago Reader as a direct response to changes in the media ecosystem, especially related to advertising revenue declines. For a dozen years, we watched many of Chicago’s legacy newsrooms and new media entities fold. We believed the creation of an alliance for local and independent media could help create a more healthy, viable media ecosystem.
CIMA—now a project of the nonprofit Reader Institute for Community Journalism, publishers of the Reader—knows that a range of solutions are needed. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for independent media, slashing advertising budgets by more than half in a short period of time and suddenly canceling scheduled events and fundraising initiatives. CIMA aims to create a space for local and independent media to meet and collaborate on revenue-generating projects, including our annual joint fundraiser which has raised more than $500,000 over three years. CIMA’s goals include helping to bring more resources into this ecosystem, boosting equity in government and corporate advertising, and raising awareness of the vibrant diversity of independent media.
The History of CIMA
By the year
All CIMA Reports & Statements
CIMA’s State and National Partners
CUNY Center for Community Media
Illinois Local Journalism Task Force
Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities
Local News Lab hosted by the Democracy Fund
Media Power Collaborative
Tracy Baim (she/her) is president and co-publisher of the Chicago Reader newspaper. She is co-founder of Windy City Times. Baim received the 2013 Chicago Headline Club Lifetime Achievement Award. She is in the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame, the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago Chapter Hall of Fame, and the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. She has won numerous LGBTQ community and journalism honors, including the Community Media Workshop’s Studs Terkel Award in 2005. Baim has written and/or edited 13 books, including Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America.
Yazmin (she/her) coordinates the Chicago Independent Media Alliance for the Chicago Reader. Since joining the Reader team in 2019, Yazmin has developed and managed the alliance and represents CIMA in national partnerships for media collaboratives. Yazmin has previously worked as a reporting fellow for City Bureau and production assistant for WTTW Chicago.
Savannah (she/her) grew up in California and Georgia, and studied at Reed College. She moved to Chicago three years ago to coordinate a bankruptcy legal assistance desk and later do grants management work. Simultaneously, she got involved in local media, working as a freelance fact-checker and documenter. As the CIMA Support Specialist, Savannah is dedicated to supporting independent, community-driven media that reflects, and is created by, all communities in and around Chicago. With additional support from the Chicago Reader’s staff members.