Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Winds of Change

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Winds of Change

Article excerpt

Competition sweeps through Chicago as the staff of one gay paper quits to form another

It was bitter, ugly, and public, but in the end the sudden exodus of 13 staffers from Chicago's Windy City Times to start a competing gay weekly could mean a stronger and more diverse Chicago gay media market.

That's the hope after the Windy City Times employees--citing a "consistent and stunning" lack of professionalism on the part of their editor and publisher, Jeffrey McCourt--offered their resignations August 3, leaving McCourt with no notice and virtually no staff.

The departure had secretly been in the works for months as staffers first contemplated ways to buy Windy City Times from McCourt but then opted to form a new gay weekly, the Chicago Free Press. McCourt calls the failure of his employees to give him notice "one of the saddest displays of unprofessionalism I've ever seen." But those who have left insist it was their only choice.

The former Windy City Times staffers concede that McCourt did pay them some of the highest gay-press salaries in the country, but they contend that he often paid late. "I know it looks bad to leave in that way," says Louis Weisberg, former metro news editor at the Windy City Times and now editor in chief at the Chicago Free Press. "But we knew that we wouldn't have been paid if we had given him two weeks.... We felt we had hit a creative and professional wall with Jeff, and we wanted to create a new, vibrant gay paper--one that Chicago could be proud of. …

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