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The plight the Reader

Image: Chicago Reader/Digital enhancement PV Bella

“The Reader is kind of like an artery in Chicago,” its publisher, Tracy Baim, said. “It’s part of the last 50 years of the heart of the city.” (Washington Post)

Chicago’s alt newspaper, the Reader’s plight, hit the national news. The Reader was established in 1971. They do some long-form journalism along with culture, food, entertainment, and other interesting stories about Chicago and people in the creative community. Their coverage of Chicago culture is always more accurate and honest than those comic rags, Chicago Magazine, and TimeOut Chicago.

Reader Columnist Ben Joravsky became an accidental expert on Tax Increment Financing and the uses and abuses of TIFs. The Reader covers communities and people who would otherwise not have voices or exposure underserved by legacy media.

Like many alt newspapers, the Reader was struggling. Print advertising was falling due to the Internet. In 2018 the paper was bought for one dollar by attorney Leonard Goodman and developer Elzie Higginbottom.

“We have been kept in the dark about vaccine safety and efficacy by our government and its partners in Big Pharma… As a parent, I will demand more answers before simply taking their word.” (Leonard Goodman/Reader)

Goodman wrote columns in the Reader to express his opinions on various issues. (You can scroll through here to see his columns)

In November, he wrote a column on COVID vaccinations for children expressing his skepticism over them. The piece was published. Several staff members were appalled at the assertions made in the article. Publisher Tracy Bain was concerned and hired a fact-checker. The fact-checker debunked the claims’ accuracy, and the so-called experts cited.

Bain wanted to either pull the article or publish the fact-checkers results. Goodman was angered about being “censored.” Reader board members aligned with Goodman raised concerns about free speech.

“If they think it’s journalistic par-for-the-course to rewrite and edit an article because it’s unpopular, they should go back and review the First Amendment,” Reader board member Sladjana Vucovic told The Washington Post.

Sladjana Vucovic is an attorney. Maybe she should take a remedial course in Constitutional Law for Dummies. The First Amendment prohibits government censorship, not individuals, private entities, social media, etc. Newspapers can decide to censor whomever they want for whatever reason they want. Maybe she got her law license in a Cracker Jack box. Stranger things have happened in this city of scoundrels. She should also study journalistic standards. If misleading or false information is published, a news media entity is responsible for correcting or rebutting it.

Angering your owner and ultimate boss or his pals on the board is never a good idea and might be hazardous to one’s continued employment. Leonard Goodman acts like a terrible two-year-old, screaming, stomping his feet, and pounding his chubby tiny fist. He needs to take a Chill Pill™. (I checked with noted physicians, scientists, researchers, and government experts on the effects of the Chill Pill. There are no harmful side effects. The only warning is if you experience giddiness for over four hours, you should see a psychiatrist. No one should be that happy or silly for so long.)

Goodman’s non-sense cost the publisher her job and threatened the transfer of the Reader to non-profit status. Goodman is even demanding a say on who will sit on the new non-profit board. He still wants revenge and control.

This whole kerfuffle is not about free speech or censorship. It is about Goodman’s over large ego, ignorance of vaccines, and childish need to be right even when he is wrong. Reading his piece, I thought I was reading conspiracy theories. All that was missing were space lasers, the Gazpacho Police, vaccination fraud, or cries of freedumb.

It is hoped Elzie Higginbottom can talk some sense into Goodman before the whole non-profit situation blows up and the Reader disappears.

Disclaimer: I did not write this piece because I am a fan of the Reader. I disagree with many of their political opinions, especially about Chicago. However, I believe that this city needs alternate news entities. The Reader provides an alternate voice in Chicago, just like CWBChicago does on its accurate crime and court reportage.

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