Kiki Yablon spent her last day Tuesday as the Reader's editor in typical fashion, marking a passage in the column I wrote for this week's paper "a bit overwrought" and deleting it. All of us here not only became used to such rough treatment but learned to depend on it. Any religion half as reliable at saving sinners from their excesses would have millions of adherents on every continent. (The preceding sentence is the sort of extravagance Yablon had no use for.)
Yablon, who'd been at the Reader 14 years, gave notice a month ago and unfortunately was as good as her word. Stepping in as acting editor is Geoff Dougherty, who joined the Reader in July as associate publisher after running a couple of interesting online news outlets, the Chi-Town Daily News and the Chicago Current. Dougherty's knowledge of the Internet is a good thing; his lack of long involvement with the Reader might also, from some perspectives, be a good thing, though employees wonder who now speaks for the institutional values we're steeped in.
As if Tuesday was not already disconcerting enough, Marty Petty, CEO of the Creative Loafing chain, sent out an announcement in mid-afternoon that the chain's weak sister, Creative Loafing Sarasota, would disappear after this week's issue. Actually, the demise of this paper is less surprising than the odd sort of afterlife it will enjoy: the Creative Loafing name has been licensed by the New York Times Company Regional Media Group for use by its daily Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Reader publisher Alison Draper calls Yablon's resignation "bittersweet" and adds that she's sorry she won't be working with her on the "impending reinvention of the Reader." Draper tells me she's aggressively searching for a "dynamic leader" to succeed Yablon and her goal is to have someone in place "by the first half of February."
In a memo Tuesday after the death of Creative Loafing Sarasota was announced, Draper assured the Reader staff that the company's leadership remains strongly committed to their paper. As evidence, she cited the "intense activity" in the search for a new editor and a new ad director, plus investments in digital products, distribution hardware, and the "reinvention of the print product."
Depending on how you hold it up to the light, reinvention is a word that promises or threatens.