The End of an Era

For the past few days I've been obsessed about the big media news in town: the buy-out of the Chicago Reader, our city's leading alternative weekly, by Creative Loafing, an out-of-town chain that, from what I read, is not known for hard-hitting journalism or great writing. The first piece I had in the Reader was maybe in the late 1970s or 80s and I've been an intermittent contributor since. Maybe seven years ago I was part of a small group of freelancers who negotiated better terms with editors, and that made me feel more part of the newspaper and the freelance community. I've had my battles with editors over story ideas and the rhythm of my sentences (don't mess with the rhythm of my sentences) and the editors did decline to include this blog on its pages or site, but I am grateful that they published some of my non-mainstream work, and gave me deadlines when I needed them. About a half-dozen of the pieces in my essay collection were first published in the Reader. If you would like to be obsessed too, then I urge you to join what's become a town forum of readers and employees. It's in the comments section of Michael Miner's blog on the Reader site. It is hoped that the Reader's name won't change. It's disconcerting to read of an alt weekly in the chain referred to as "the Loaf."

But as the French say, after bread, art is the great need of the people. I think the French said it. I saw an exhibition on the saying in a Paris gallery in the late 1970s. All the sculpture was made of bread dough. According to Danton, "Après le pain, l'éducation est le premier besoin du peuple." Kropotkin says this, "After bread has been secured, leisure is the supreme aim," but I prefer "art" to "education" or "leisure." But maybe "leisure" is right, and thus, the supremacy of creative loafing over the art that is or was the Reader.


jessica handler said...

Here in Atlanta (home of Creative Loafing) I've read about the paper's buying the Reader. I hate the idea of chains, but I've got to tell you, Creative Loafing is about all we have around here for local print journalism, since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (the Constitution was the morning paper of old, of blessed memory) is heinously awful. Vote on cute-pet outfits and read the high school football scores. Oh, and there's the whole "dump the book review section" thing.

I agree that CL is not all hard-hitting journalism, but there are some sharp and socially conscious investigative writers at CL, particularly Andishae Nouraee, John Sugg, Alysa Abkowitz, and Mara Shaloup.

I've freelanced for CL writing feature/entertainment stories, so there's my due diligence in this comment space. I'm not a hard-news writer.

Anyway, the folks listed above are worth reading. I wonder, though, how CL will localize the writing? Maybe they'll keep local freelancers? That would be the right thing to do, for so many reasons.

Anonymous said...

" not known for hard-hitting journalism or great writing..."

as opposed to? D.