Same mission, different platform

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Editor and Publisher Susan Smith Richardson

Editor and Publisher Susan Smith Richardson

A framed copy of an editorial from the first issue of The Chicago Reporter rests on my desk — a reminder of why I’m here.

“Of all the challenges facing Chicago, race is the make or break issue of the 1970s. … Race touches everybody and everything,” co-editors John A. McDermott and Lillian Calhoun wrote in July 1972. “Racial peace and progress are more than moral ideals today. They are matters of profound self-interest to every person and institution in this community.”

Some 43 years later, we could say the same about the importance of race in Chicago — and the nation for that matter. Today, hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter capture the urgency of addressing the persistent color lines that breed racial inequality. The potential for the Reporter’s work to reach new audiences has never been greater. We want to be part of an online conversation that is changing the national conversation about race.

How we get news has changed dramatically since 1972 when McDermott and Calhoun published that first issue. The three major TV networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) have given way to an alphabet soup of cable and broadcast networks, while newspapers and other traditional media outlets continue to adapt to a digital landscape where information is created and consumed 24-7.

So we have decided to end the quarterly publication of The Chicago Reporter and focus our work online, where we can reach wider audiences and have a greater impact while staying true to our mission. And, yes, we will continue to produce the long-form investigations you’ve come to expect from us. (In fact, if you haven’t visited our website regularly, you’ve missed some important investigations.)

Our last quarterly issue will be published later this month.

We’ll produce an annual issue of the Reporter highlighting our best investigations from the year and a few new features — interviews, essays, book reviews. And we’ll email subscribers a PDF of a top investigation every quarter until their subscriptions end.

The platform may have shifted from print to the Web, but the mission has stayed the same. The editorial in that first issue of the Reporter still inspires our work:

“The Reporter will dig beneath the surface of local racial news because the issues of the ’70s are more hidden and complex. The special problem of the ’70s is racial inequality, the deep disparities in the condition and quality of life which separate the races and which are the legacy of generations of injustice.”

We hope we can continue to rely on your support as we transition to the digital age.