The city will see no more of Chicago Sports Weekly. Always interesting, free but good enough to spend money on, CSW was just shut down by the unlikely owners who launched it last June, Reklama Media Company. Reklama publishes a line of Russian- and Polish-language titles and CSW was its first excursion into English.
The soul of CSW was its young editor Chris Sprow, who'd edited the old Chicago Sports Review since its inception in 2003. CSR constantly teetered on the brink of financial disaster, and in 2006 Sprow approached Reklama as potential investors. Owners Igor Golubchik and Vlad Veren had the money and believed in the idea, but they wanted control. So they brushed off the Review's owner, Tom Alexander, and hired Sprow to start a whole new sports paper. They seemed to know next to nothing about the field they were entering--they thought Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazine were monthlies--but Golubchik told me, "We are providing more of a business backing rather than a sports strategy. We're pretty aggressive on our level, which is still a small-company level, but nevertheless we know how to make a successful product from the ground up."
There was talk of giving CSW three years to find its way. But these are hard times in the print publishing world, and Reklama decided to cut its losses. Even though CSW was claiming a weekly circulation of 30,000--three times the number of copies printed of the first issue--last week the owners told Sprow to halt the press run. This week they told him it was over. Wednesday Sprow told his freelance contributors.
CSW went out in style. The cover story of the last issue, dated February 6, was "Under the Microscope," a history of investigative journalism in sports. Says Sprow, "It was a good final issue. It was cool to do stuff like that, in a weekly, for so little."