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Membership

Become a Friend of the Shepherd Express

Help support Milwaukee's locally owned free weekly newspaper.

Become a Friend   

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 37 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.

Become a Friend

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 newspaper and online of your support for high quality, courageous, local journalism.


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 newspaper and online of your support for high quality courageous local journalism.


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 newspaper and online of your support for high quality, courageous, local journalism.


 
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 Sherri Hanson at (414) 292-3819. Our offices are open Monday-Friday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you have any questions about contributing to the Shepherd Express, please contact us at friends@shepex.com.
 

If you would prefer to subscribe by phone, you can call Sherri Hanson at (414) 292-3819. Our offices are open Monday-Friday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).



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 37 years, the Shepherd Express has provided our community with a free weekly newspaper. We have been 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.

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 our elected officials or corporate leaders. The Shepherd continues to support policies, programs, organizations and businesses that help Milwaukee 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 real character and make it a great place to live, work and play.

Over 30 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 never backed down. For the past five 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 daily newspapers. We have seen the once-locally owned Journal Sentinel sold three times in the past few years. Just recently, Gannett which owns the Journal Sentinel finalized its sale to GateHouse Media, which will manage the newspaper under the Gannett name. Gannett had cut and downsized every aspect of the newspaper and now GateHouse is talking about more dramatic cost savings. This out-of-state corporate ownership has left the Shepherd Express not only Milwaukee's largest locally owned newspaper, but Wisconsin's largest. The Journal Sentinel has gone from printing over 300,000 daily papers to what we have been told is now approximately 75,000 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. As GateHouse Media takes control of the Journal Sentinel, everyone is bracing themselves for the cuts to come. And last year, 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, 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 this current 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.

No Plans to Quit

Despite the complexity of the newspaper world, the Shepherd Express has no plans to quit. Our readership has remained high and stable. We continue to print somewhere between 52,000 and 54,000 depending on whether the universities are in session.  We are distributed in over 1,300 locations in the five-county area. We provide good jobs to Milwaukee by paying fair salaries and providing health insurance and an employer-matched retirement plan.

So how does a locally owned media company survive in the world of Facebook and Google and the predatory corporate media conglomerates? With the help from you, our readers.

Filling the Gaps

Our goal is to continue to grow the Shepherd, and to try to fill some of the gaps left by the cut backs of the corporate owned daily paper. The Shepherd is a Milwaukee institution and it plays a vital role in our community. I hear that every day from different individuals—loyal readers, advertisers, business owners and nonprofit directors saying how the Shepherd has helped them and helps Milwaukee. Now is an opportunity for you to directly help the Shepherd Express better serve Milwaukee. We love this city and all the people and institutions that make it great.

Let me assure you that we have not been sitting on our hands. Like all other successful news weeklies from around the U.S., the Shepherd Express has diversified its income stream. For example, we have quadrupled the resources we put into our website to build one of the most dynamic, effective, user friendly and fastest growing news websites in Wisconsin. 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 news weeklies, 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 newspaper 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 one of the country’s top news weeklies and the 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



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 Sherri Hanson at (414) 292-3819. Our offices are open Monday-Friday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). If you have any questions about contributing to the Shepherd Express, please contact us at friends@shepex.com.