CHICAGO — The Windy City Times, Illinois’ largest LGBTQ publication and one of the oldest in the country, is stopping print publication and going completely online.
Tracy Baim, one of the founders of the newspaper and majority owner, announced the change on Wednesday morning.
“I am very sad to see the print edition go away,” said Baim. “Our staff, freelancers and drivers have given so much to Windy City Times over the years. I thank the team for really working hard to sustain WCT. Hundreds of people worked at and supported this company through so many difficult times. Windy City Times is not closing, but losing the print paper is painful. We know many people prefer the print model, but the economics are just not sustainable.”
The newspaper said that the impact of COVID-19 on their entertainment advertising was the driving force in ending print publication. Until then, the WCT had been doing well even as print advertising across the country declined.
“It was a heart-wrenching but necessary decision to cease production of the paper,” said Kirk Williamson, WCT‘s associate editor and art director. “Before the pandemic hit, things were looking up and we were continuing to buck the trends in the niche print journalism world, which is a testament to the loyalty of our readership, without whom this all would have happened many, many years ago.”
The final print edition will be on Sept. 20, the 35th anniversary of the newspaper’s founding. Stories will continue to be published on windycitytimes.com. The WCT said they get an average of 125,000 unique monthly visitors to its website and almost 40,000 social media followers.
In May, the WCT was one of 43 independent Chicago media outlets to take part in a media fundraiser.
The newspaper said that several staff will be furloughed as they seek additional resources in the pivot to all digital. Donations are being accepted at http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/donate.php.
“I’d like to thank all of our readers for giving us—the staff of WCT with just the right balance of passion and craziness—an outlet to serve the community we all love so deeply,” Williamson said. “At the end of the day (or of the print run), the most important thing is the history, which continues to unfold in fascinating ways. I’m just glad we were there to help chronicle some truly revolutionary changes (mostly for the better) in Chicago’s LGBTQ community.”