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My life at Windy City Times
by Matt Simonette, Windy City Times Managing Editor, started in 2013
2020-09-30

This article shared 2044 times since Wed Sep 30, 2020
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I came into LGBT media completely by accident, having begun as editorial assistant at Windy City Times' competitor Chicago Free Press in 2005. I had done a favor for CFP's managing editor, Louis Weisberg, and he in turn got me some work editing and proofreading at a time when they were particularly short-staffed. Thanks in large part to attrition, I became managing editor in 2008, staying with the paper until the end of 2009.

I freelanced for a few years and came to work as a freelancer for Windy City Times in 2013 at the behest of then-Senior Writer Kate Sosin, who invited me to take part in one of the paper's investigative series. WCT was for years my sworn competition, so I was pretty shocked at how quickly I fell into the groove of working at WCT. Andrew, Tracy, Kirk, Jean and Terri seemed to pretty quickly adapt to my own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and, once I came on board full-time, I was thrilled to be entrusted with interviews such as the Chicago mayoral candidates in 2014. When I expressed interest in adding a film/TV beat in 2018, that was similarly entrusted to me without question.

The most exhilarating times at WCT have been those moments that have required extensive group-participation, even when we were in crisis-mode: going down to Springfield when the General Assembly voted on gay marriage, the horrible aftermath of the Pulse shootings in Florida, election night 2016, the early days of the pandemic. I can actually say I enjoyed staff meetings at WCT—since the company was mobile long before being mobile was a thing, I rarely was in the same room with my co-workers and had a good time when I was.

I appreciate that everyone at WCT has, to be blunt, the same nose for bullshit that I pride myself in having—I've occasionally gotten burned by sources I shouldn't have trusted, but not that often. Tracy and Andrew operate the same way. Friends and family have long-since tired of my cynical diatribes at how I've got the number of how some long-beloved public figure "really" operates.

When I came on board, Tracy and Andrew made clear that part of my job was keeping tabs on the local organizations in whom the LGBTQ community entrusts with their voices. Ninety-nine percent of the time those "tabs" resulted in little-to-no scandal, but, if you are the CEO or executive director of an LGBTQ-centered not-for-profit, chances are I know what you make for a living.

As the media landscape evolves, and LGBT media becomes even less of a presence during these crazy times, I'll miss most the individual storytelling that WCT excelled at—writers such as Carrie Maxwell and Ross Foreman had particular knacks for those. Mainstream media and neighborhood outlets will cover hot-button issues and some of the high-profile fluff, but our community is made up of thousands of people with crazy, beautiful and/or heartbreaking stories, stories that are now less likely to be presented to the world. Here's hoping they're not drowned out in cacophony as social media comes to dominate more and more of our cultural conversations.

I close by thanking the entire Windy City Times staff for letting me into their tightly-knit band seven years ago, giving me the best job I've ever had. Andrew Davis organized our editorial department with great aplomb, and I always enjoy an email from him, even if it is the 700th one of the day. I always marveled how Kirk—one of the few art directors I've known who pays diligent attention to copy—could quickly deliver an aesthetic cover design on weeks when it seemed like we only had stories about community meetings and author-readings.

Kirk also sold the ads that kept us going, as did Publisher Terri Klinsky, who worked diligently keeping the business side of the paper running. Webmaster Jean Albright got the whole thing online, often dealing at all hours, without complaint, with me micromanaging my typos.

I'm not going to reflect much here on what Tracy Baim brought to this paper and to this community—the pages in this issue do that better than anything I'd have to say, and there are many more eloquent voices than mine on her work. Suffice it to say that as a member of this community, I am grateful for all that she's put into Windy City Times. But I am even more grateful that I got to have some small hand contributing to that work.

But I should reserve my biggest thanks for the readers who invested their trust in Windy City Times, who turned to us for both the breaking and, sometimes, obscure news about our community. That trust is something we never took for granted, and meant the world for us as a newspaper.


This article shared 2044 times since Wed Sep 30, 2020
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