“We live in an increasingly stupid and narcissistic culture, so good writing that turns a critical eye on the city and world around us will continue to find a smaller and smaller audience.”
Changes at the Reader
Last week, as part of an ongoing effort to reduce costs, the Reader laid off some longtime staffers: John Conroy, Harold Henderson, and Tori Marlan, as well as Steve Bogira, who was in the midst of a leave of absence. As you may be well aware, these writers have produced some of the paper's most exciting and important work. The decision to eliminate their jobs was not a comment on their value as writers but rather a necessary adjustment in the way the Reader operates. We've made many difficult changes in response to the market forces affecting our industry, and this was a tough one. But we remain committed to publishing, both in print and on the Web, in-depth reporting, robust listings, and provocative arts criticism.
It would be incorrect to assume that this particular staffing change was made hastily or without exploring other options. But needless to say, we've gotten some heat for our decision. A selection of letters to the editor and comments from Michael Miner's media news blog (blogs.chicagoreader.com/news-bites) is included below.
Sorry for Your Loss
I'm really disappointed that you chose to fire four of your most experienced and accomplished reporters, including John Conroy. I really enjoyed reading Mr. Conroy's reporting, and will miss seeing his writing in your paper.
I hope these firings are not indicative of future cost-cutting measures to be enacted at the expense of the Reader's formerly high-quality content.
By what definition of journalism are the Reader jobs of Alison True and Michael Crystal more important than those of John Conroy, Harold Henderson, Steve Bogira, and Tori Marlan, the exemplary journalists purged by True and Crystal last week? What is it that this pair is trying to save for its bosses? The Reader logo? The Restaurant Raters system? Club listings? Ownership of the "Straight Dope" trademark?
No media enterprise could have paid John Conroy enough for the service he has done for decades to journalism, the Reader, and the cause of elemental justice in Chicago and Illinois. And Harold Henderson, Steve Bogira, and Tori Marlan do not rank far behind.
Certainly, after years of loyalty to Reader bosses, Alison was handed a pig in a poke when the founder-owners sold the paper out from under her. But once it became apparent what the future with new ownership held, she surely could have done the honorable thing that others in similar circumstances have done: handed in her own resignation to Creative Loafing and its banker-lender-investor-creditors and told Ben Eason to fire these extraordinary writers himself.
John Conroy is a journalistic hero in the old-school sense of the word. His writing has shed light on the issue of torture in Chicago and around the world, and the end result is a net gain in the quality of life for the people in this town, and a net gain in lives over all.
This is terrible news.
But we live in an increasingly stupid and narcissistic culture, so good writing that turns a critical eye on the city and world around us will continue to find a smaller and smaller audience, regardless of whether the ad revenue can support it.
Prove me wrong, morons!
As a non-Chicagoan who regularly enjoys the Reader for its long essays, this is tragic. I'm saddened, too, that it seems a done deal that whenever a persistent, quality publication is bought by outside interests, they turn it to crap. I would love to see Creative Loafing take a great institution and not destroy it by betraying its identity, but so far so bad. I wait (and want) to eat these words.
Two Wrongs Don't Make Hate Right
To J.B. and Tony LaMantia (respondents to the article on Andrew Wilson) [Letters, December 6],
I see responses like those of Mr. LaMantia and J.B. (whose "bold" and hateful rhetoric is hidden behind an anonymous two-letter initial) and I hang my head in disgust, frustration, and disbelief that we have become such a vengeful society that we completely miss the point of John Conroy's article on Andrew Wilson [November 29]. The entire point of the article is to show that it is precisely in the case of a committed and unrepentant murderer that we STILL see that our conscience and law hold that torture is never acceptable.
I read the article and detected not a single trace of sympathy for the conviction of Andrew Wilson but saw very clearly that Conroy's argument was that this, of all possible cases, ironically happened to be the one that broke the horrible fact of a long history of torture conducted by the Chicago police force. Are we so hellbent on taking vengeance on human beings who commit crimes that we are willing to throw out our humanity and sense of justice and gleefully endorse torture and flagrant and insulting abuses of power?! If so, then I hope J.B. enjoys the second coming of the Third Reich and doesn't piss anyone off who happens to be in power.
Sean Young (my name, not my initials, J.B.)
Stop Exploiting Dee Dee
I was highly disturbed by reading your article on Dee Dee the hog [Omnivorous, November 29]. It's your business if you want to get nourishment from killing animals, but to flaunt the poor hog's life as a countdown to her death just so you can get some articles for a Food & Drink section. That is bad journalism. Shame on you and the Reader for funding this "project" or "article research."
From OurOnline Readers
It seems pretty clear that as a prosecutor he did a lot of really dirty stuff to secure convictions. He sent innocent people to death row.... Doesn't this stuff come up in debates?
The fair thing would be for him to go to prison for as many years as the people he wrongfully convicted, but laws are in place that protect scumbag prosecutors. However, how in the hell does he manage to get elected and reelected? Don't his opponents mention this stuff?