The Reader is being sold to a group led by Chicago Crusader publisher Dorothy Leavell.
Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath announced the sale Friday afternoon at the Rainbow PUSH Convention in Chicago. The Sun-Times has owned the Reader since 2012.
“I’m here to say that the future of the Reader is in African-American ownership,” he said at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. “You’re about to have a major publication in Chicago that is African-American owned.”
Leavell told the crowd: “I am so honored to have had an opportunity to stand here to say to you that not only am I the publisher of the Chicago Crusader and the Gary Crusader but now the Chicago Reader.”
She vowed to continue the Reader’s tradition of investigative reporting and cultural coverage and to expand it throughout the city.
The announcement got a standing ovation at the convention.
For 50 years, Leavell has published the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader, which cover African-American communities throughout the area. Leavell is also the president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a black press trade association with 200 member newspapers. She was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2015.
“The Reader is a beloved Chicago institution with an important history of investigative journalism and cultural reporting,” she said in a written statement. “Our goal as new ownership is to preserve and strengthen this brand and to make the paper accessible to all Chicago communities.”
The Reader, which has been publishing since 1971, has a circulation of 85,000.
“We love the Reader and have worked hard to be sure it has a foundation for the future. All of us at the Sun-Times are thrilled that the Reader’s future is in such good hands,” Eisendrath said in the statement.
Dave Roeder, organizer at the Chicago News Guild, welcomed the news.
“On behalf of its members at the Chicago Reader, the Chicago News Guild is pleased with the planned sale of the publication. The Reader covers arts, culture, politics and civic issues like no one else. We look forward to helping the new owners broaden the audience for its excellent work. We also thank Edwin Eisendrath and his investors, including organized labor, for having preserved the Reader’s independent voice.”
The Sun-Times will maintain a 15 percent stake in the newspaper. The deal is expected to close in the next 30 days.