Capping an already bad year for the LGBT press is news that much of the staff of the Chicago Free Press has left the paper after not getting paid. According to the Chicago Tribune, the exodus marks the end of months of uncertainty at the CFP, which was started ten years ago by former employees of Chicago’s dominant LGBT newspaper, the Windy City Times.
The art director, graphic designer and most of the writers at the Chicago Free Press left the gay publication Monday after the company stopped paying its employees, according to Matt Simonette, who also left his position as editor.
Simonette said Tuesday that editorial contributors had not been paid since mid-November and other staff members had not received paychecks that were due Dec. 15. Other former employees said paychecks had not come on time in the past.
“The senior staff did not resign; it was just simply a matter of leaving because of non-payment,” Simonette said. “People were coming in there and doing their jobs for free. It didn’t sit well with us.”
The CFP’s publisher, admitted there were cash flow problems but that he planned to pay employees this week. He said he’d tried to avoid layoffs during Christmas, but that the employee chose to walk out instead. The ex-staffers have started a Facebook group where they are questioning the paper’s leadership.