Millionaire Len Goodman has held The Chicago Reader hostage – and all the underpaid journalists who work there. Although he agreed to sell the paper so it could gain nonprofit status and survive financially, Goodman refused to sign the papers.
Journalists working there warn that the newspaper will run out of funds in a few weeks and leave the status of their paychecks uncertain.
The Reader is a beacon of alternative weekly journalism and a cornerstone of Chicago media. Its loss would not only leave a horde of talented journalists jobless, but would leave the community without a prominent outlet for coverage of LGBTQ+ topics, more in-depth reporting, and local music. Chicago culture would be darker without The Reader.
Staff at The Reader have been very clear: they want the sale to happen. Goodman’s bad faith actions prevent The Reader from continuing its coverage and leave its 36 employees without job security.
As student journalists, we admire The Reader. Many of our staff are seniors, including five members of our editorial board. Entering the job market as we witness a hostile attack on beloved journalism is infuriating. It is important for their staff, their large readership and the future of journalists that The Reader is allowed to transition to non-profit status.
This is especially important given the direction in which journalism, especially in Chicago, is heading. Between the recent merger of WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times and the success of Block Club Chicago – not to mention the small publications doing an incredible job of covering all aspects of the city – it’s clear that this is the future of journalism.
While the Chicago Tribune has faced trials and tribulations from wealthy individuals who fail to see the public good provided by journalists there, the Reader does not have to suffer the same fate. He even has a clear lane, which the Tribune weren’t lucky enough to have before Alden took over.
What caused this wealthy individual’s latest wave of greed? The Chicago Reader’s newsroom ordered a fact check of its anti-vax op-ed — you know, like newspapers that deal with facts do.
Even though Goodman claimed via Twitter that the disagreement stemmed from the Chicago Reader’s Union’s refusal to consider the board’s demands, his last writing came back in his column from years ago. Move on, Len.
As young journalists about to enter the professional world who currently work at a hyperlocal weekly, we recognize the value of The Chicago Reader. Its staff inspires us by consistently and carefully handling stories that other newspapers don’t recognize.
Goodman’s website claims he saved the Reader from bankruptcy – we’d like to ask him what’s the point if he wants to kill the publication anyway.
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