Chicago Defender ‘Months’ Behind In Rent, Lays Off Two Editors And Others

The Chicago Defender, one of the nation’s oldest black-owned newspapers, is “months” behind on its rent, the paper’s “greatest challenge” right now, publisher and president Michael House told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The only remaining editors on the 18-person staff, executive editor Lou Ransom and news editor Rhonda Gillespie, were shown the door last week as well as turning the paper’s only photographer into a part-time staffer and letting go an accounts receivable employee.

“We’re facing the same struggles as everyone else,” House told the Sun-Times. “And our receivables are taking longer to collect. We’re facing 60- and 90-plus days from advertisers, which creates a back-up in terms of our being able to make our own payments.”

The Defender was a daily paper until 2008, when it switched to a weekly. Its circulation is now around 16,000.