Windy City Times, the lone surviving LGBTQ newspaper in Chicago, will move to a digital-only format starting in October.
"I am very sad to see the print edition go away," majority owner Tracy Baim announced on Wednesday. "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 Sept. 30 edition of Windy City Times, which marks the paper's 35th anniversary, will be its last regular free-standing print issue. The special collector's edition will include a retrospective of the last 35 years.
Windy City Times was founded in September 1985 by Jeff McCourt, Bob Bearden, Drew Badanish and Tracy Baim. Baim was the managing editor. In 1987 she left to found Outlines newspaper. Over the years, Outlines also launched Nightlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida and other LGBTQ media. In 2000, Baim purchased Windy City Times back from McCourt and she became publisher.
Baim, who is majority owner of WCT, joined the Chicago Reader as publisher in 2018. Her longtime staff took over WCT, including Publisher Terri Klinsky, Executive Editor Andrew Davis, Managing Editor Matt Simonette, Art Director Kirk Williamson, Director of New Media Jean Albright and Ripley Caine, bookkeeper.
COVID-19 and its impact on the paper's core entertainment advertisers meant continuing a print paper was not tenable, according to Baim. Windy City Times is among only about two dozen weekly or biweekly LGBTQ newspapers left in the U.S.
Three of the paper's five employees will be furloughed in October as the company seeks additional resources in its pivot to digital.
As part of its 35th anniversary, the Sept. 30 final print edition will be a special collector's edition with a look-back at 35 years. Windy City Times will also be putting out a book of covers of WCT and its related LGBTQ newspapers.
Windy City Times will be inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in a virtual ceremony to be streamed October 13.