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Support the Shepherd

Become a Friend of the Shepherd Express

Help support Milwaukee's locally owned free weekly newspaper.

Introducing the Friends of the Shepherd Express

Help support local journalism starting at just $9 a month.

The Shepherd Express has been your source for independent local journalism in Milwaukee for 38 years. We want to expand and enhance our efforts. We're happy to unveil a new membership program—Friends of the Shepherd Express—to give you an avenue to help support us.

You'll get exclusive perks AND helps us to continue delivering the independent journalism you've come to expect from us.

The Long View From Folksinger David HB Drake
Mike Kryshak with Rebel Converting and Mask Up MKE is a Friend of the Shepherd
104 year-old social justice warrior Joan Robertson supports the Shepherd
Friends of the Shepherd testimonial: Jeff Bentoff

Friends of the Shepherd Express



Membership Levels

Your support at these levels will help us to continue delivering the accurate, honest and courageous journalism you've come to expect from the Shepherd Express.

FRIEND

Membership level 01

$9 MONTHLY | $99 YEARLY

(auto-renew)

THE THANK YOU BENEFITS OF BEING A FRIEND:


• Your membership is vital in supporting high quality, courageous, local journalism.


• Opportunity to win drawings for free tickets to specific Milwaukee shows, events and plays.


• Opportunity to win gift certificates to great local restaurants.


• Annual recognition (optional) in the magazine and online of your support 


Receive early access to an online version of the magazine straight to your email inbox. See the magazine and read the stories days before anyone else has access to them, online or at a pickup location. Some issues will be exempt.


JOIN NOW

SUPPORTER

Membership Level 02

$17 MONTHLY | $185 YEARLY

(auto-renew)

THE THANK YOU BENEFITS OF BEING A SUPPORTER:


• Your membership is vital in supporting high quality, courageous, local journalism.


• Members only "meet and greets" at local venues of interest with prominent Milwaukee area leaders.


• Upgrade to VIP on two events per year of your choice while paying the general admission price for Shepherd Events for member and a guest (based on availability upon request to friends@shepex.com). This premium is non-transferrable.


• Opportunity to win drawings for free tickets to specific Milwaukee shows, events and plays.


• Opportunity to win gift certificates to great local restaurants.


• Annual recognition (optional) in the magazine and online of your support 


Receive early access to an online version of the magazine straight to your email inbox. See the magazine and read the stories days before anyone else has access to them, online or at a pickup location. Some issues will be exempt.

JOIN NOW!

PATRON

Membership Level 03

$35 MONTHLY | $385 YEARLY

(auto-renew)

THE THANK YOU BENEFITS OF BEING A PATRON:


• Your membership is vital in supporting high quality, courageous, local journalism.


• Exclusive (25 person) Informal Private Cocktail Party at the Shepherd office. Meet and greet Shepherd staff members while sipping complimentary cocktails and enjoying hors d'oeuvres creations provided by local restaurants.


• Members only "meet and greets" at local venues of interest with prominent Milwaukee area leaders.


• Upgrades to VIP while paying the general admission price for all Shepherd Events for member and a guest (based on availability upon request to friends@shepex.com). This premium is non-transferrable.


• Opportunity to win drawings for free tickets to specific Milwaukee shows, events and plays.


• Opportunity to win gift certificates to great local restaurants.


• Annual recognition (optional) in the magazine and online of your support


Receive early access to an online version of the magazine straight to your email inbox. See the magazine and read the stories days before anyone else has access to them, online or at a pickup location. Some issues will be exempt.


JOIN NOW!

 
If you would prefer to support the Shepherd through a one-time payment, you can do so at the Contributor level via check or over the phone. Checks can be mailed to:

Attn: Friends of the Shepherd
Shepherd Express
207 E. Buffalo St., Ste. 410
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Please note 'Friends of the Shepherd' in the memo line! To contribute over the phone, call Blaine Schultz at (414) 292-3813. Our offices are open Monday-Friday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). For any questions please email membership coordinator: Hannah Thorn at hannaht@shepex.com

If you would prefer to subscribe by phone, you can call Blaine Schultz at (414) 292-3813. Our office is currently closed to the public, so your call may go to voicemail. Blaine will get back to you as soon as possible.



The Shepherd Express' Future

Open Letter to Our Readers
We Want You to Be Involved

FROM THE DESK OF LOUIS G. FORTIS, EDITOR/PUBLISHER OF THE SHEPHERD EXPRESS

Dear Readers,

For the past 38 years, the Shepherd Express had provided our community with a free weekly newspaper. We have worked hard to be accurate, honest, informative and courageous even when it cost us advertisers and distribution locations. We never shied away from taking on difficult and often controversial issues. We always advocated for fairness and social justice. And we have also been a champion for Milwaukee and all its residents highlighting their accomplishments whether it is the great work of its nonprofits or its many and diverse small businesses.

We view our readers as smart, and we hire writers who write to a smart audience without talking down to anyone. We work to support progressive efforts by our city, county and state, and confront the ridiculous, self-serving, corrupt, or politically motivated actions of some elected officials or corporate leaders.  The Shepherd will continue to support policies, programs, organizations and businesses that help Milwaukee continue to shift to a modern, interesting, exciting and forward-looking city.

Impact in Milwaukee

Many nonprofit organizations, with their heroic missions, say that their coverage in the Shepherd helped them survive by putting their accomplishments in front of our readers. Many restaurants will tell you that it was a Shepherd review that kept them in business and in some cases enabled them to become Milwaukee institutions. We strongly support our local nonprofit organizations and small businesses because it is those entities that give Milwaukee it’s real character and make it a great place to live, work and play.

Over 35 plus years ago, for example, the Shepherd was the first to promote LGBTQ personals. This may sound trivial today, but the response we got was swift and nasty with a lot of threatening phone calls, the loss of several advertisers and an even larger number of distribution points. We didn’t back down, and we don’t back down from any fight for social justice. For the past six years, our annual LGBTQ Progress Awards have recognized the courageous individuals who literally risked their lives to fight for LGBTQ social justice back in the day.

Tough Times

We all know that it's been tough times for media companies, especially news publications, even in pre-pandemic times.  Obviously the pandemic made things worse. We have seen the once-locally owned Journal Sentinel sold three times in the past few years. Sadly, the Journal Sentinel has gone from printing over 300,000 daily papers to what we have been told is now under 100,000 for the entire state.

Years ago, I was a Wisconsin State Representative from Milwaukee and at that time, we had two fine daily newspapers, the Milwaukee Journal, the afternoon paper, and the Milwaukee Sentinel, the morning paper. They competed and as a result, Milwaukeeans were getting good news coverage. Unfortunately, they merged in 1995, cut staff and eliminated their major competitor leaving Milwaukee with one daily newspaper.  And Milwaukee lost another voice in late 2018, when after almost 10 years in business, the Wisconsin Gazette closed its doors. In summary, it's just a tough world out there for media companies.

Why is This Important to You?

Newspapers are important to a community and play a unique role in building a “sense of community” in the areas they represent. Newspapers are tangible and seen by virtually everyone everyday whether they are reading it or not. Newspapers have survived the coming of radio, television and now the internet.  Facebook and Google have done an amazing job selling the story that “print is dead” and that Facebook and Google are the only way to go for advertising. However, studies show that print is still one of the top two or three most effective vehicles for advertising, but the Facebook/Google myth lives on.

Actions, however, are more genuine than propaganda. When Facebook had to apologize to the public, Mark Zuckerberg took out full page ads in newspapers because he knew they were effective. When MillerCoors wanted to fight back against the attack ad Budweiser ran on Super Bowl Sunday a few years ago, MillerCoors immediately took out full page newspaper ads. And interestingly, Amazon, the king of online commerce sent out a printed catalog through the U.S. Mail last holiday season to boost their sales. Finally, the richest guy in the world, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, bought a newspaper company and fought to keep the Washington Post in his divorce settlement.

Filling the Gaps

Our goal is to continue to grow the Shepherd, and to try to provide some balance in news coverage and to fill some of the reporting gaps caused by the cutbacks at the corporate owned daily paper. The Shepherd is a Milwaukee institution and it plays a vital role in our community.  I hear that often from different segments of our readership—loyal readers, advertisers, business owners and nonprofit directors saying how the Shepherd has helped them and helps Milwaukee. Now after 38 years, we are asking for your help to enable the Shepherd Express to better serve Milwaukee. We love this city and all the people and institutions that make it great. I am totally committed to keeping the Shepherd healthy and serving Milwaukee for another 38 years.

Let me assure you that we have not been sitting on our hands during the pandemic. In addition to pivoting to the glossy monthly that has been applauded by both advertisers and our readers, we have more than doubled the resources we put into our website to build one of the most dynamic, effective, user friendly and fastest growing news websites in Wisconsin. Our free e-newsletter is now sent out daily to over 50,000 subscribers. 

We have also followed the trend of our sister alternative weeklies by building an events division that hosts a dozen popular events each year. And like other successful sister publications around the country, we are now launching a membership group, the Friends of the Shepherd Express, to actively involve and engage our supportive readers. Together, a locally owned, community focused, media company can and will continue to grow.

What the Membership Enables

Your memberships will enable us to hire additional reporters, take on more complex investigative projects and, most importantly, do much more neighborhood news coverage. But more importantly, your membership will help keep a locally owned, independent, free news publication speaking truth to power.

Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote says it all: if he had to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

So, if you believe it is important to have a local voice holding institutions and the powerful accountable, please join the Friends of the Shepherd Express.

We also want your input to help us keep the Shepherd Express an aggressive and indefatigable voice of progressive social and cultural perspectives in the Milwaukee area. Be part of one of the institutions that makes our community great.  Please join us in this endeavor.

Sincerely,
Louis G. Fortis
Shepherd Express Editor/Publisher

JOIN THE FRIENDS OF THE SHEPHERD

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Please note contributions to the Friends of the Shepherd Express are not tax deductible.

 
If you would prefer to support the Shepherd through a one-time payment, you can do so at the Contributor level via check or over the phone. Checks can be mailed to:

Attn: Friends of the Shepherd
Shepherd Express
207 E. Buffalo St., Ste. 410
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Please note 'Friends of the Shepherd' in the memo line! To contribute over the phone, call Blaine Schultz at (414) 292-3813. Our offices are open Monday-Friday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). For any questions please email membership coordinator: Hannah Thorn at hannaht@shepex.com