John Conroy first embarked on the police brutality beat in 1989, when he covered the story of Andrew Wilson, a convicted cop killer who alleged that his confession had been coerced by electric shock torture. Conroy's subsequent reporting for the Chicago Reader has resulted in several awards -- and multiple subpoenas. "I bet you that there's not another paper in the country that has been willing to let one person do what I have done for so long, at such cost, in terms of every story we do involves extensive legal review," Conroy tells Editor & Publisher. The complete story is available to subscribers here.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Staff Writer Has Spent 16 Years Exposing Torture by Police

In an article appearing in the Oct. 17, 1979 issue of the Wall Street Journal, David Blum exhibited an early fascination with the alt-weekly format. Blum, who was recently named editor of the Village Voice, wrote: "Some newspapers do a lot of strange things. Take the Chicago Reader." In addition to exploring the Reader's free-classifieds strategy and its strong hold on both readers and advertisers, Blum questioned the paper's lack of political coverage: "[Co-owner Robert] Roth dates the paper's first issue, that of October 1971, as 'five months after the Kent State Shootings' -- which would seem hardly the time for an alternative paper to concentrate on suggesting what to do on a Saturday night." Blum's article is available for $4.95 in the Wall Street Journal archives.

Continue ReadingNew Voice Editor’s Early Take on the Alternative Press

David Jones (pictured) tells AAN News that after "doing this particular job in this particular (very special) place" for such a long time, he plans to return to writing and possibly teaching. While he won't miss "squidging things around a (computer) screen," that doesn't mean it isn't difficult for him to leave the Reader. "We still do some amazing things here, every week, of course, and I'll feel strange not having my hands on any of it anymore," he says.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader’s PD: ‘It’s Time to Move On’ After 29 Years

Most of the ads cited in the fair-housing lawsuit recently filed against the free-classifieds juggernaut "would not strike an ordinary person as discriminatory," says Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. Nevertheless, newspapers have lived with the "persnickety" Fair Housing Act for many years now, writes the Chicago Reader's Michael Miner after hearing from several AAN classified directors who vigilantly scour their housing ads to ensure compliance. But that doesn't mean alt-weeklies should be thrilled by the suit. "We have two dogs in this fight," says Chicago Reader Executive Editor Mike Lenehan. "(W)e shouldn't be too eager for them to lose this suit, because we're all in the online business too."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Ambivalent About Craigslist Lawsuit

A recent survey of AAN papers revealed that the applications alt-weeklies are using to track circulation are as diverse as the newspapers themselves. A few papers rely on their in-house wiz for a custom-made program, but for the rest of the industry, a commercial package is the only sophisticated option. Alt-weekly circulation insiders describe their woes, successes, and dreams of better uses for the numbers.

Continue ReadingCirculation Software Makes Life Easier at Alt-Weeklies

The Reader's Executive Editor, Michael Lenehan, penned a Swiftian proposal for a "Year Without Journalism" in the Dec. 30 issue (available here as a PDF). Lenehan wrote, "With no news to aggregate, no facts to ruminate, the algorithms and the bedroom pundits will turn on each other like mirrors, producing a perfect regression of narcissistic self-reflection, repeating endlessly." The story immediately became an object of insult among offended bloggers such as Rambling Rhodes and Wonkette, who was mentioned in Lenehan's piece. Lenehan says, "Did it get the reaction I hoped for? Of course not. The reaction I hoped for -- the reaction I always hope for -- is widespread and universal acclaim. Instead I received kind words from all the old-school journalists I heard from and vilification from almost every blogger who read the piece -- and, of course, from many bloggers who saw it blogged somewhere else and didn't bother to read it. I was surprised by how literal and humorless the bloggers are. I guess they like to think they are being attacked by print journalists, it reassures them that they are effectual."

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Column Becomes Blogosphere Target

Tori Marlan is one of eight journalists chosen this year to receive a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation. Marlan's $17,500 six-month grant will enable her to take a leave of absence from the Reader and immerse herself in her topic, which she describes as "the plight of unaccompanied minors--kids from all over the world who come to the U.S. without parents or guardians and seek asylum. The government detains more than 5,000 of them each year." Marlan hopes her work "will appeal to a national and international readership."

Continue ReadingStaff Writer at Chicago Reader Wins Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship

Throughout his career, Ben Joravsky has worked to illuminate issues affecting Chicagoans. In his award-winning political column for the Chicago Reader, The Works, he explains how the city treats certain individuals, shedding light on the larger schemes of government. This is the 27th in a "How I Got That Story" series highlighting the AltWeekly Awards' first-place winners.

Continue ReadingBen Joravsky: Covering City Hall From the Outside