CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) –– Movie critic Roger Ebert is helping raise money for the college newspaper where he cut his teeth.

The nonprofit that runs the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois is late on its mortgage payments and owes $250,000 to its printer.

Ebert says in a letter to alumni that many journalists — including him — “would say that they owe their careers at least in part to their experience” at the Daily Illini. He says, “It’s now time to give back.”

Daily Illini publisher Lil Levant tells Crain’s Chicago Business that Ebert’s letter is part of a fundraising campaign.

The newspaper’s nonprofit organization, Illini Media Co., also hopes to raise money by leasing space to tenants.

The Daily Illini on the Urbana-Champaign campus is financially independent from the university.

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