Alison True was fired Friday morning by acting publisher Alison Draper as editor of the Reader, the paper which True joined as an editorial assistant in the early 1980s. True’s dismissal was announced by Draper at a staff meeting later in the morning attended by Marty Petty, CEO of the Creative Loafing chain of weekly papers.
I consider this act unfathomable — a tragic misjudgment by two people, Draper and Petty, whom I respect. I suppose they have a vision of tomorrow’s Reader they think True is wrong for. Change is in the air — design consultant Ron Reason has just finished helping Creative Loafing’s Atlanta paper overhaul itself, and he’s due in Chicago in a few weeks to add his two cents here. True, in the last couple of years, had to fire some extraordinary journalists — among them writers John Conroy, Steve Bogira, Tori Marlan, and Harold Henderson. The original leaders of Creative Loafing had saddled her with a budget under which she couldn’t afford them — I got that, though a lot of readers understandably didn’t. But operating within a drastically smaller budget, True produced a Reader that did what it could still afford to do at a level that maintained its traditional standards.
I mourn True — who’s as good a friend as I have — and hope for the best for those standards.
UPDATE: Alison Draper says that Ron Reason is not booked to participate in any sort of retooling of the Reader. She writes: “The Reader has not engaged Ron Reason on any projects. I have not determined the timeline for a redesign, nor engaged any designers in initial conversation. The leadership team at the Chicago Reader will determine when and if a redesign is to take place. We will collaborate around which designer(s) best understands the needs of the Chicago Reader and its audience and can best assist in the process of evaluating brand-centric creative options.”