Award-winning cultural critic and comics journalist Anne Elizabeth Moore has been hired by the new publishers of the Chicago Reader as editor in chief.
Moore has worked in independent media since the age of 11, more recently on such projects as Punk Planet, the Ladydrawers, the Best American Comics series, and at Truthout. At a 2011 launch for her book Cambodian Grrrl at the Chicago Cultural Center, she was described as having “pushed Chicago to reenvision what publishing could be for two decades.”
“The new team behind the Reader has made the deliberate and thoughtful decision to do something incredibly difficult to ensure this city maintains a vital, independent news source on a weekly basis,” Moore said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join them to help bring the paper to the whole of Chicago.”
Karen Hawkins, founder of Rebellious Magazine for Women and longtime journalist for the Associated Press and other media, has been hired as managing editor for digital. Hawkins, who holds her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University, was recently the inaugural recipient of the NLGJA Jeanne Córdova Award, a national honor.
“The Reader provides a vital voice for the Chicago area,” Hawkins said. “I remember as a young woman making special trips into the city to find a copy of the Reader to discover what was happening in all cultural corners of Chicago. I look forward to working to make sure the digital presence of the Reader continues to grow.”
The new publisher of the Reader is Tracy Baim, cofounder of Windy City Times.
“We are very excited to have Anne Elizabeth Moore as editor in chief of the Reader,” Baim said. “She will bring a fresh eye and approach to alternative weekly journalism in Chicago at a time when alternative weeklies in other cities are struggling to survive. We are bringing together great editorial, business, circulation, and advertising people to strengthen this legacy publication in the Windy City.
“In addition, we are also so pleased to have Chicago native Karen Hawkins as managing editor of digital. The Reader has an extensive online presence through the website and social media, and we hope to have a strong focus on this as an area for unlimited growth. We are a print newsweekly, but the online presence expands the reach of our articles and advertisers, and Hawkins will be key to this.”
An agreement has been signed between Sun-Times Media, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times as well as the Chicago Reader, and a private investment group that has formed an L3C to purchase the Reader to ensure it remains a vital voice in the local media landscape. The new leadership team take over the Reader effective October 1, 2018, with an official relaunch later this fall. The paper will continue to publish every week.
Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and its sister publication, the Gary Crusader, is chairman of the Reader board of directors. Board treasurer is Eileen Rhodes, president of East Lake Management Group, and secretary is Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times magazine.
The major investors behind the Reader purchase are longtime business leader Elzie Higginbottom and criminal defense attorney Leonard Goodman. A public fund-raising and membership drive will also launch soon.
The Reader is conducting a search for a print managing editor. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply once the position is posted.
The Reader, founded in 1971, is among the last remaining alternative weekly newspapers that came out of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movements. The new owners will continue the strong tradition of cultural coverage and investigative reporting, focusing on both print and digital distribution channels.