A special message from Tracy Baim

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When I took over as publisher of the Chicago Reader in 2018, I knew the challenges would be immense. It had just been separated from the Sun-Times and was losing more than $1 million a year.

I began building a business team to enhance the experienced editorial staff. We hired new editorial leadership. We started to grow. Then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. We pivoted, we danced for dollars, put out coloring books, “best-of” books, and merchandise. And then, finally, in May 2022, we were able to gain independence to become a full non-profit under the new Reader Institute for Community Journalism (RICJ).

Now, I am excited to pass the reins to our new publisher. After a six-month search by the Morten Group, LLC, the board of directors this week announced that Solomon Lieberman will take over in mid-February. Solomon, who has experience in Chicago nonprofit media from his stints with the Better Government Association, and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University, is excited to take the Reader into a better future.

Tracy Baim and Solomon Lieberman. Photo by Sarah Joyce

After more than four years of saving the Reader from multiple catastrophes, and pushing it over the finish line of its 51st anniversary last fall, I knew the newspaper–and our Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) project—were ready for the next phase. Sometimes leadership is about knowing when to move on. The team at the Reader is incredible. From editorial to business, sales to circulation, we have almost 40 people who help produce the biweekly newspaper, digital content, and CIMA, as well as dozens of freelancers and contractors. The board of directors, led by the amazing Eileen Rhodes, who recruited me to this job, is also strong. The paper is in very capable hands.

Since I took over as publisher, the organization has moved to strengthen its infrastructure and has diversified its revenues, distribution, leadership, and staff. It tripled in revenue, more than doubled its employees, and has expanded its print and online readership. In 2018, there was one person of color on our team. Current leadership consists of 57 percent people of color, 57 percent LGBTQ+, 15 percent disabled, and 86 percent female, nonbinary, or trans. Of the overall staff, 47 percent are people of color, 33 percent LGBTQ, 8 percent disabled, and 67 percent female, nonbinary, or trans.

I am now 39 years into my community media experience. I started at GayLife in 1984 when I was 21, co-founded Windy City Times in 1985, and have loved all aspects of journalism since I was a child growing up in a journalism family. It has been a great honor to helm this legacy newspaper and launch CIMA. And I am very excited about what is next for RICJ, CIMA, and the Chicago Reader. I will stay in the orbit, and help where I can.

As we navigate the newness of being a nonprofit organization, we invite you to support the Reader as we continue to deepen our work across Chicago, all the while keeping the paper free for all.

Join us in welcoming Solomon Lieberman, and thank you for your continued support.


Tracy Baim


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