by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The LGBT newspaper Chicago Free Press did not publish its April 29 edition, and appears to be out of business.
On May 3, the paper's editor, Kerrie Kennedy, issued a statement saying it had ceased publication.
"Due to health problems, publisher David Costanzo is no longer funding the operation of Chicago Free Press. Consequently, the April 29 issue was not published, and it is not expected that any additional issues will be published," Kennedy said.
Kennedy told the Chicago Tribune that the staff has been unable to reach Costanzo since April 15.
ChicagoPride.com reports that the Chicago Free Press staff has not been paid since March 31.
The Chicago Free Press first published in 1999, when staff from Chicago's original LGBT newspaper, Windy City Times, walked out on publisher Jeffery McCourt and started a new publication.
McCourt subsequently sold Windy City Times, its trademarks, and all its archives to another rival, Outlines publisher Tracy Baim.
Costanzo, a former investment banker and lawyer, bought the corporate holding company known as Rainbow Media LLC, including Chicago Free Press, in 2002.
In the past year, concerns over the paper's long-term stability began to emerge, however.
Editor-in-Chief Matt Simonette and staff writer Amy Wooten resigned from the paper last December because of slow payments to employees.
At that time, co-General Managers Bill Feld and Jeff McBride denied financial problems and told ChicagoPride.com the paper would continue to publish as scheduled.
This year both Feld and McBride left the paper.
In its heyday, Chicago Free Press enjoyed a reputation for quality journalism and innovative marketing.
In her statement, Kennedy said "... it was CFP's staff of talented and award-winning writers who gave people a reason to pick up the paper every week. Many of them - Paul Varnell, Jennifer Vanasco, Larry Bommer and Web Behrens - have been writing for the paper since its inception."
"It has been my good fortune to have known and worked with many of these writers for more than 15 years," Kennedy continued. "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."
Chicago Free Press created and launched "Out at the Ballgame," the Midwest's largest "out" event in association with a professional major league sports team, in this case the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago Free Press became one of the largest LGBT newspapers in the country, with a readership of 50,000.
Windy City Times, which is still in publication, now remains as Chicago's only LGBT newspaper. It will celebrate its 25th anniversary in September.
"This is not a day to celebrate," said Windy City's Tracy Baim. "All media, Gay and mainstream, are facing new and difficult paths to survival. So it is never a good thing when a media outlet closes."
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