The Chicago Reader, an iconic 47-year-old award-winning publication, is being sold to a group led by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader newspapers. The Reader’s owner, the Chicago Sun-Times, will keep a 15 percent stake in the publication, which it bought in 2012. The sale price wasn’t disclosed.
The stunning announcement was made at the Rainbow PUSH National Convention Women’s Luncheon on Friday, June 15 at the Hyatt Regency, before an estimated 1,000 guests, who gave a standing ovation after Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath broke the news.
“The Reader is a beloved Chicago institution with an important history of investigative journalism and cultural reporting. Our goal as new ownership is to preserve and strengthen this brand and to make the paper accessible to all Chicago communities,” Leavell said of the sale.
The award-winning Reader, with its tradition of long-form and investigative journalism, has been an important part of Chicago since 1971. The free weekly has a circulation of about 85,000.
“We love the Reader and have worked hard to be sure it has a foundation for the future. All of us at the Sun-Times are thrilled that the Reader’s future is in such good hands,” Eisendrath said.
Leavell has been publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader newspapers for 50 years. The papers are part of the Crusader Newspaper Group and cover African-American communities throughout the Chicago area. Leavell is also the Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a Black press trade association with 200 member newspapers.
Dave Roeder, organizer at the Chicago News Guild, welcomed the news. “The Reader covers arts, culture, politics and civic issues like no one else. We look forward to helping the new owners broaden the audience for its excellent work. We also thank Edwin Eisendrath and his investors, including organized labor, for having preserved the Reader’s independent voice.”
The sale is expected to be completed within 30 days.