The Chicago Reader is an American alternative weekly newspaper in Chicago, Illinois, noted for its literary style of journalism and coverage of the arts, particularly film and theater. It was founded by a group of friends from Carleton College.
The Reader is recognized as a pioneer among alternative weeklies for both its creative nonfiction and its commercial scheme. Richard Karpel, then-executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, wrote:
he most significant historical event in the creation of the modern alt-weekly occurred in Chicago in 1971, when the Chicago Reader pioneered the practice of free circulation, a cornerstone of today's alternative papers. The Reader also developed a new kind of journalism, ignoring the news and focusing on everyday life and ordinary people.
The Reader, as it is commonly known, is dated every Thursday and distributed free on Wednesday and Thursday via street boxes and cooperating retail outlets. As of March 2009, the paper claimed more than 1,900 locations in the Chicago metropolitan area and an audited circulation of 100,000.
In July 2007, the paper and its sibling, Washington City Paper, were sold to Creative Loafing, publisher of alternative weeklies in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tampa and Sarasota, Florida. Creative Loafing filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. In August 2009, the bankruptcy court awarded the company to Creative Loafing's chief creditor, Atalaya Capital Management, which had loaned $30 million to pay for most of the purchase price for the Reader and the Washington City Paper.
In 2012, the Chicago Reader was acquired by Wrapports LLC, parent company of Sun-Times Media.