After 11 years, Chicago Free Press shuts down

Posted May 3, 2010 at 3:04 p.m.

By Julie Wernau | The Chicago Free Press — one of two newspapers in the city geared
toward a gay audience — has ceased publication after paychecks stopped
for more than a month and attempts to reach the newspaper’s publisher
proved unsuccessful, Managing Editor Kerrie Kennedy said Monday.

Kennedy broke the news this morning with a statement posted on

“Due to health problems, publisher David Costanzo is no longer funding
the operation of Chicago Free Press. Consequently, the paper’s April 29
issue was not published, and it is not expected that any additional
issues will be published,” Kennedy wrote.

Reached by phone, Kennedy said the news staff had not been able to reach Costanzo since April 15 and staffers — who are paid biweekly — had not been paid since March 31. The Tribune’s attempts to reach Constanzo were also unsuccessful.

“We just basically had to stop working because we weren’t getting paid,” she said, adding that she had the content for the next issue “ready to go” and that ad sales were strong even with hits from the economy.

Editor Matt Simonette, the art director, graphic designer and most of the writers at the Chicago Free Press left the gay publication in December after the company stopped paying its employees. Costanzo rehired staffers and continued publication of the newspaper following the walk-out and Kennedy — who has worked for the newspaper since its launch by Novus Publishing Group in 1999 — took over as editor. Costanzo, who heads up Rainbow Media, acquired the assets of the Free Press in 2002.

Kennedy said she preferred to focus on the rich history of the publication.

“It has been my good fortune to have known and worked with many of these writers for more than 15 years,” she said. “The fact that any of us chose to stay during these past few bumpy years is testament not only to the respect we have for each other, but to the dedication we have to serving Chicago’s GLBT community.”

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