Anne Elizabeth Moore, the noted author, artist, cultural critic and comics journalist, has been named editor-in-chief of the Chicago Reader, as the 47-year-old alternative weekly shifts to new ownership and management.
Tracy Baim, new publisher of the Reader, announced the appointment Monday along with the hiring of Karen Hawkins as managing editor for digital. A national search continues for a managing editor for print.
“We are excited to have Anne as the editor-in-chief of the Reader. She brings a wide range of skills and experience to this position, and really understands the alternative weekly culture of the Reader,” Baim said in a statement. “I am especially excited about her work in the use of comics to tell stories, something that will really be terrific in the print edition of the Reader.”
Baim said Moore “will bring a fresh eye and approach to alternative weekly journalism in Chicago, at a time when alternative weeklies in other cities are struggling to survive. We are bringing together great editorial, business, circulation and advertising people to strengthen this legacy publication in the Windy City.”
The top editorial job at the Reader has been vacant since February when Mark Konkol ended a brief tenure amid controversy over a cover story and illustration widely criticized as racially insensitive. Dave Newbart and Kate Schmidt have served as interim editors since then.
In June the parent company of the Sun-Times announced that it was selling the Reader to an investment group headed by real estate developer Elzie Higginbottom and attorney Leonard Goodman. Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and the Gary Crusader, two African-American publications, will serve as chairman of the Reader board of directors. The new leadership team takes over today.
Moore, former editor of Punk Planet and founding editor of Best American Comics, has been an influential figure in independent media for years. (She and I crossed paths at Chicago Public Media, where we both were contributors to the Vocalo Blogs.)
“The new team behind the Reader has made the deliberate and thoughtful decision to do something incredibly difficult to ensure this city maintains a vital, independent news source on a weekly basis,” Moore said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join them to help bring the paper to the whole of Chicago.”
Since 2016 Moore has been living in Detroit on a writing residency and fellowship. Her latest books include the comics journalism investigation Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking, the essay collection Body Horror, and Sweet Little Cunt: The Graphic Work of Julie Doucet, which will be published in November. She also has been working on an investigative comics journalism series for Truthout with Melissa Mendes, for which they received support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“I couldn’t be more excited to come join the Reader,” Moore told me. “The paper has good bones, the folks I know there already are great, and the new leadership team is an actual dream. Dorothy Leavell, alone, is such an astounding force. My hope is to both widen our devoted readership and to re-root our coverage within our community of readers. Obviously my interests in investigative reporting and comics will play a significant role, but I guarantee we won’t abandon the cultural coverage the paper’s built on.”
Hawkins, founder and “rebelle in chief” of Rebellious Magazine for Women, is a former Chicago-based reporter for The Associated Press. She also is a founding partner of Ladies Room Chicago, Chicago’s first co-working community and social space for women, and a former director of communications for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
“The Reader provides a vital voice for the Chicago area,” Hawkins said. “I remember as a young woman making special trips into the city to find a copy of the Reader to discover what was happening in all cultural corners of Chicago. I look forward to working to make sure the digital presence of the Reader continues to grow.”
Said Baim: “The Reader has an extensive online presence through the website and social media, and we hope to have a strong focus on this as an area for unlimited growth. We are a print newsweekly, but the online presence expands the reach of our articles and advertisers, and Hawkins will be key to this.”