Millionaire Len Goodman has been holding The Chicago Reader — and all the underpaid journalists who work there — hostage. Despite agreeing to sell the paper so it can gain non-profit status and survive financially, Goodman is refusing to sign the papers.
The journalists who work there warn the paper will run out of funds within weeks and leave the status of their paychecks uncertain.
The Reader is a beacon of alt-weekly journalism and a cornerstone of Chicago media. Its loss would not only leave a horde of talented journalists jobless, but leave the community without a leading outlet for coverage of LGBTQ+ topics, closer-look feature stories and local music. The culture of Chicago would be dimmer without The Reader.
The staff of The Reader has been abundantly clear — they want the sale to go through. Goodman’s bad-faith actions are depriving The Reader of continuing its coverage and leaving its 36 staffers without job security.
As student journalists, we look up to The Reader. Many of our staff are seniors, including five members of our editorial board. Entering the workforce as we witness a hostile attack on a beloved journalism outlet is infuriating. It’s important for their staff, their extensive readership and the future of journalists that The Reader is allowed to transition into non-profit status.
This is especially important given the direction journalism, specifically in Chicago, is headed in. Between the recent merger of WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times and the success of Block Club Chicago — not to mention the smaller publications doing incredible work to cover every aspect of the city — it’s clear this is the future of journalism.
While the Chicago Tribune has faced trials and tribulations at the hand of wealthy individuals who fail to see the public good provided by the journalists there, the Reader doesn’t have to face the same fate. It even has a clear path out, something the Tribune wasn’t lucky enough to have before Alden took over.
What provoked this wealthy individual’s latest streak of greed? The Chicago Reader’s newsroom ordered a fact check of his anti-vax opinion article — you know, like newspapers that are in the business of facts do.
Even though Goodman claimed via Twitter the disagreement stems from The Chicago Reader’s Union’s refusal to consider the demands of the board, his latest piece of writing came back around to his column from years ago. Move on, Len.
As young journalists about to enter the professional world who are currently working at a hyperlocal weekly paper, we recognize the value The Chicago Reader. Its staff inspires us by constantly and carefully handling stories other papers fail to recognize.
Goodman’s website claims he saved the Reader from bankruptcy — we’d like to ask what good that does if he wants to kill the publication anyways.