Do you remember 2020 before the pandemic changed your life?
For us, that day was Thursday, March 12. I remember awkwardly pausing before shaking hands with now-editor Dawn Rhodes, who I had just met. I remember sending now-photographer Colin Boyle out to take photos of people on Downtown streets. Barely anyone was wearing masks, he reported back.
We knew coronavirus was real then. But we didn’t know the virus would upend our world and alter the way we work for nine months and counting.
We haven’t been back to the office since. But that hasn’t stopped our scrappy team from rolling up their sleeves and working harder than ever to serve our neighbors, providing relevant and accessible information when they needed it most.
Over the past nine months, our tiny team of 10 reporters has written more than 3,700 stories about coronavirus, its impact on our neighborhoods and how our neighbors are organizing to help each other. All of this has been completely free to all readers — and we were the first newsroom in the city to drop our paywall on this coverage.
Breaking News Editor Kelly Bauer worked 56 straight days at the height of the pandemic to bring you the most up-to-date information as what we knew about the virus and how our leaders were responding changed daily.
Reporter Mauricio Peña has written 42 stories since a botched explosion covered Little Village in dust amid the respiratory pandemic, holding the developer and city leaders accountable for the environmental disaster long after TV news cameras moved on.
When we recognized the barrage of coronavirus news overwhelmed Chicagoans, we launched a free coronavirus newsletter, delivering the most important news in a digestible format straight to your inbox.
When we realized many of our readers had unanswered questions or were having trouble accessing testing, we launched a free coronavirus hotline in English and Spanish, which helped 272 callers in its first month.
When mutual aid efforts and local nonprofits needed help raising money to feed out-of-work Chicagoans, we wrote stories time and again urging our readers to donate.
We also launched a hyperlocal gift guide, urging Chicagoans to support these local retailers during a critical time.
And we did it all for free.
Today is Giving Tuesday, and we know a lot of folks are asking for your help. If you’re able, I’m asking you to donate to support the people who got to work to stabilize our neighborhoods when we needed it most — places like food banks, shelters and other mutual aid efforts. If you don’t know where to start, Block Club has a list of local efforts here.
If you have a few bucks left over after, we’d be grateful for your support. And here’s our pledge to you: Every dollar donated today will go straight to the Block Club reporters who helped when your neighborhood needed them most.
You can donate here. Block Club is a 501(c)3 and your donation is tax-deductible.
You can also support us by subscribing or gifting a subscription — there’s a free tote bag with your name on it today if you do.
Thank you for proving every day that Chicagoans will support local news that serves them first. Without you, we’re nothing.
Managing Editor + Co-founder