Alison True has been fired as editor of the Chicago Reader after twenty-six years with the paper. According to senior editor Michael Miner, the decision was announced during a staff meeting this morning by Reader publisher Alison Draper. Said Miner, "I consider this act unfathomable — a tragic misjudgment by two people, Draper and [Creative Loafing CEO Marty] Petty, whom I respect. I suppose they have a vision of tomorrow's Reader they think True is wrong for."

According to Chicago Business, True was caught completely off guard by the move.

Continue ReadingAlison True Out as Editor of Chicago Reader

The Reader's cover this week features an illustration of Barack Obama with the text "Don't Screw This Up." Editor Alison True writes the paper has heard from several callers who told her the paper was "assuming he'll screw up because he's black." True insists this isn't the case, and reiterates a crucial point: "No matter how jubilant some of us may feel about his election, the media's role isn't to cheerlead for elected officials," she writes. "We were addressing Obama as the person -- not the black person -- whom we've handed an important new job and letting him know that even though we put him there, we'll be watching." The Reader had a companion cover ready to go if McCain won with the text "Please Don't Die." To see these and more post-election alt-weekly covers, check out AAN's Flickr page. We've also assembled some pre-election covers. If your paper published an election-themed cover that isn't there, email it to Jon Whiten at jwhiten (at)

Continue ReadingChicago Reader’s Obama Cover Ruffles Some Feathers

Edward McClelland measures his former paper's hip quotient, using the fictional Reader music critic who appeared in the 2000 film High Fidelity as a yardstick. "Today, if you made a movie about Chicago hipsters, Caroline Fortis probably wouldn't write for the Reader," McClelland writes in Columbia Journalism Review. "She'd write for Time Out Chicago, or Pitchfork." Reader editor Alison True, Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason, and former Reader staff writers Neal Pollack and Harold Henderson weigh in with their takes on the Reader's past and its future.

Continue ReadingFormer Staffer Asks: Is There Still a Place for the Chicago Reader?

"No one here told John Conroy to lay off police torture," is the headline to Michael Miner's blog post written in response to last week's Chicago Sun-Times column on Conroy's work on police torture at the Reader and a related piece from the Beachwood Reporter, an online newspaper. Editor Alison True strikes the same chord in a separate blog post, saying that "I encouraged John to explore other subjects," but "never asked him to lay off police torture."

Continue ReadingMore on the Chicago Reader, John Conroy, and Police Torture

John Conroy, Harold Henderson, Tori Marlan and Steve Bogira were laid off this week by editor Alison True, Michael Miner writes on his News Bites blog. True tells the Chicago Tribune that, given the mandate to cut costs by her new bosses at Creative Loafing in August, it became difficult to afford their work. "The numbers are part of a deal that was structured a long time ago," she says. "Even if [CEO Ben Eason] were the most passionate journalist in the world, he wouldn't have the option of saying, 'I'll give you a little extra this year so this doesn't have to happen.' He's bound to his deal." Meanwhile, Fishbowl DC is reporting that five editorial staffers were laid off at the Reader's sister paper today: Washington City Paper writers Joe Eaton, Amanda S. Miller, Tim Carman and Jessica Gould, and editorial assistant Joe Dempsey, are all no longer with the paper.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader & Washington City Paper Editorial Staffers Laid Off

In a staff message sent Friday, Alison True admits there "are reasons to be distressed by a change this big," but claims there are also "reasons to be optimistic" about the sale to Creative Loafing, including the new owners' pledge to maintain editorial independence and enhance the paper's business operations. MORE FROM CHICAGO: In an anonymous post on a Reader blog, a recently hired salesperson remembers why s/he took a large pay cut to take a job at the paper: "I did it because I love the Reader, and I have loved it since I was 15 years old sneaking away from the burbs and into the city searching for the comforting yellow newspaper dispenser. ... I wanted to be around people that keenly observed the world and cared about the people living in it, the people other than themselves with stories to tell. And I found that. Here at the Chicago Reader."

Continue ReadingReader Editor Says CL Acquisition Not a Sad Day for Chicago

The Project for Excellence in Journalism recently posted comments about the future of alternative newspapers submitted by Richard Karpel, executive director of AAN; Matt Gibson, publisher of The Missoula Independent; Julia Goldberg, editor of the Santa Fe Reporter; and Alison True, editor of the Chicago Reader. The discussion is one of nine that were conducted via e-mail to supplement PEJ's report, The State of the News Media 2006, which was issued earlier this year. The four panelists share their thoughts on the New Times/Village Voice Media merger, the aging of the alt-weekly audience and the long-term outlook for mainstream-media organizations.

Continue ReadingPanel Discussion on Alt-Weeklies Available Online

Grant Daniel Pick, 57, died Feb. 1 of a heart attack. Editor Alison True tells the Chicago Tribune: "There was a generosity of spirit that was typical of him no matter what he was writing about." Pick "produced stories on topics ranging from religion to transgender individuals," and won a Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary journalism from the Chicago Headline Club, the Tribune reports. A story he wrote about Uday Hussein's hypnotist is set to run in Friday's edition of the Reader.

Continue ReadingChicago Reader Staff Writer Dies

Predictability took a tumble at the Chicago Reader Sept. 17 when the paper adopted a fresh new design. Freelance writer Nora Ankrum tells the story behind the 33-year-old paper's transformation, accomplished through a collaboration between the paper's staff and Spanish design firm Jardí + Utensil. While some readers may miss the old Reader, advertisers say they like the way the new look captures readers' eyes.

Continue ReadingBroad Vision, Focused Effort Yield Chicago Reader’s New Look

Chicago Tribune media critic Steve Johnson weighs in on the Chicago Reader's recent redesign, writing, "Suddenly a publication that looked a little murky and, perhaps, vulnerable, has a new air of vibrancy." Next year, Time Out New York is scheduled to launch its Chicago edition, which will compete directly with the Reader by publishing comprehensive entertainment listings. Reader editor Alison True tells Johnson, however, that the redesign wasn't prompted by Time Out's imminent arrival. "A paper that takes 12 years to redesign doesn't make impulse decisions," she says. (Free registration required.)

Continue ReadingRedesign Gives Reader “A New Air of Vibrancy”