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‘Save the Reader’ rally highlights importance of Reader staff and supporters

  1. Negotiations between Len Goodman, co-owner of Chicago Reader and assistant professor at DePaul, and the Chicago Reader Union have stalled.

After the Chicago Reader Union rally on Thursday, Goodman agreed to meet with co-owner Elzie Higginbottom and her attorney. However, Goodman told his lawyer to cancel the meeting after learning that Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor would be present.

The union is holding a ‘work from (Len’s) house’ on Thursday, April 28 where union members will work outside Goodman’s Lakeview home – at the same location the previous rally was held on Wellington Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

“We already knew that we had to potentially step up and [we are] figuring out how we can maintain the momentum we have,” said Yazmin Zacaria Mikhaiel, readers union member and public engagement manager. “You can expect readers’ staff members to show up and do their jobs in front of Len’s house.”

The rally will be a visual representation of what the reader does day to day.

“To keep the momentum going and make sure Len knows he’s impacting us on a daily basis,” Mikhaiel said. “Showing up at his house so he can see that’s the most visual representation of us doing our jobs.”

There are 17 members of the Chicago Reader Union, all members of the editorial staff of the Reader. At Thursday’s rally, union president Philip Montoro told The DePaulia that Goodman had not officially communicated with him.

Reader editor, Racial Justice Reporting Hub manager and DePaul alum Kelly Garcia told the crowd how her work continues to be blocked by Goodman’s actions.

“The center of racial justice reporting cannot rest on one person’s shoulders,” she said during her speech. “I was promised a publisher and more writers. But we haven’t been able to do that because we’re dealing with a man-made crisis, a crisis caused by Len Goodman.

The union also created two open letters in support of the Chicago Reader Union, one for professional journalists and the second for artists and artists’ organizations. Over 50 organizations have signed the Artist Organizing Letter and almost 400 journalists also signed.

“But not only did we have good support from our brothers and sisters in the unions, but we had the support from the community, the support from our contributors from other journalistic institutions,” Montoro said at the rally. “We’re building an ecosystem, something sustainable because it’s really hard to go it alone these days.”

Co-signers ranged from freelancers to Chicago Tribune reporters and former Reader employees.

“I think this critical mass of people is a testament to the impact the Reader has had and what would be lost in the city for a newspaper with this legacy and courage to cease to exist,” Mikhaiel said.

There was no update regarding another negotiation meeting.

25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez told The DePaulia the importance of supporting the Reader Union.

“It’s critical for us as a community as a city to make sure we support unionized staff,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “The legacy of fifty years of independent, grassroots journalism cannot be jeopardized simply because Mr. Goodman has a difference of opinion.”

On April 13, Goodman published a column about distrust of fact-checkers and claimed Reader staff tried to censor him after he raised concerns about vaccinating his children against Covid-19. .

“There are about 36 journalists – freelance journalists – who shouldn’t have their great work compromised just because there’s a millionaire who has a different agenda,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

Sigcho-Lopez spoke at the rally about the Reader’s impact on Chicago and why the city needs independent journalism.

“As an elected official who watches and sees the importance of independent journalism, it really comes to a community that really invests in journalists, because more communities that expose these issues that write in detail in what is really rare, and you will be really sad to see this disappear or be compromised,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

Reader staff continue to publish amid dispute. They are also celebrating their 50th anniversary.

“We are still working,” Mikhaiel said. “I think that’s something that may not have been clear during this period of mobilization for us, [is] that the newspaper continues to come out. We will still print. We still have daily staff operations and we are pushing to save our newspaper. »

As one of the last free alternative bi-weekly newspapers in Chicago, the Reader is able to reach the community, even those without access to news or the Internet.

“The amount of resources that exist within the pages is so critical to the fabric of the city and to supporting Chicagoans who potentially don’t even have internet access, don’t have access to different kinds of services – having a hub like the print reader that is always accessible is needed to keep our city going and for people to stay informed about what is happening in their city,” Mikhaiel said.

The player has a limited time until they cannot maintain their for-profit status.

“The Reader is our home, and if you care about the people in your home, you care about them,” Mikhaiel added.