‘Save the Reader’ rally highlights Reader staff, supporters significance


Kiersten Riedford

The Chicago Reader Union is made up of the 35 members of Reader staff. If the publication does not transition into nonprofit status, they could all lose their jobs.

The Chicago Reader Union held their first rally at Len Goodman’s, co-owner of the publication, residence on Thursday, demanding he authorize the sale to make the Reader a non-profit.

The union inflated two Scabby the Rats in front Goodman’s residence in Lakeview at 300 Wellington and Lakeshore Drive. Scabby the Rat has been used as a symbol opposing employers. 

Reader Union Chair and music editor Philip Montoro said Goodman has not had any official communication with the union. 

“He’s not responded to me,” Montoro told The DePaulia. “He’s never directed anything with me. I’ve responded to things he said to other leaders, staff. There’s been no formal communication whatsoever.” 

The Reader Union has several speakers including Tiffany Walden, editor in chief of the TRiiBE, 35th Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel, the Reader’s audience engagement manager.

“There’s always that anxiety, what if you throw a party and nobody comes?” Montoro said. “But not only did we have good support from our brothers and sisters in the unions, but we had community support, support from our collaborators from the other journalistic institutions.”

Gabreilla Karrigan, a daughter of one of the 35 staffers, said she wanted to show her support of “the underdog.”

“It’s just taught me what it means to stand up for what you believe in. “Support the underdog. Hopefully, soon to be a nonprofit that advocates for the people’s voices [that] aren’t heard. My mom has taught me that from the very beginning how important that is, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Kelly Garcia, a Reader staff writer and leader of the Racial Justice Reporting Hub, spoke to the crowd about how her work continues to be stalled by Goodman’s actions. 

“The racial justice reporting hub can’t stand on the shoulders of one person,” she said during her speech. “I was promised an editor and more writers. But we’ve not been able to do that because we’re dealing with a man-made crisis, a Len Goodman-made crisis.”

Supporters ranged from Chicago professional journalists, various Chicago union members from Chicago Teachers Union and United Steelworkers and aldermen. 

“We’re building an ecosystem, something sustainable because it’s real hard to go it alone these days,” Montoro said. 

Goodman bought the Reader back in 2018 and claims he “saved” the Reader. The Reader is on track to stop publishing in a matter of weeks if they do not transition to a non profit status. 

There has been no communication from Goodman about authorizing the sale. 

“When we save the Reader because we will,” Garcia said during her speech. “Let it be known that it wasn’t Len Goodman, who saved the Reader. It was the editors and staff.”