Politics & Media
Oct 28, 2008, 11:13AM

Finding a New Place in History

The Chicago Reader—the Windy City's storied al-weekly—is not the paper it once was. That's a good thing.

A very thoughtful, if somewhat mournful, essay:

When the Reader’s founding owners sold to Creative Loafing, they acknowledged their vintage with this statement: “We’ve had a great ride. Now we’re happily handing the keys to a new generation.” Creative Loafing’s CEO, Ben Eason, thinks he can recapture the eighteen-to-thirty-five crowd while hanging on to Boomers who’ve grown into middle age with the Reader. The Web site—which only in 2005 began offering all Reader content, but in difficult-to-read PDF files—now features blogs on music, sports, food, and movies. The new restaurant section combines the old Reader and the new Reader perfectly: a recent column on soul food examined African American foodways while identifying South Side restaurants where readers would feel comfortable. And Eason has commissioned focus groups—a Reader first. When Creative Loafing Atlanta did the same, he explains, “we found that it was a values game. You have to reach into the values of the sixties. A twenty-year-old today is still educated, serious, and community-minded.” The spirit of the alternative weekly is viable, he believes. But the tradition of spending months on a story is “economically unsustainable.” A small staff can still produce good journalism, Eason says. Creative Loafing Atlanta won an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award for an exposé on the Black Mafia Family, a drug ring/hip-hop label.


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