Nov 16, 2022 - Business

Chicago Reader fallout from the Hideout investigation

Photo of the front of a bar.

The Hideout in 2020. Photo: Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

The Chicago Reader cut ties with freelance writer John Greenfield last week after he published a story exploring online allegations of a toxic workplace at The Hideout.

  • Based on accounts of anonymous sources, Greenfield's self-published story on Medium criticized some current and former Reader writers for their coverage and online comments on the issue.

Why it matters: The events raise questions about how and when journalists can question allegations — especially about race — against Chicago institutions, and what they can say publicly about their co-workers.

What they're saying: "I wasn't expecting the backlash to be quite so harsh, including what seemed like just about every journalist and transportation advocate under 40 turning against me," Greenfield told Axios.

  • He finds the Reader banishment "disappointing, considering I've spent close to half of my life writing for the paper."

The other side: Reader publisher Tracy Baim tells Axios she believes that allegations about The Hideout should be explored but that her reasons for cutting ties with Greenfield go beyond the recent story.

  • "My role is to listen to my team and support them, and they didn't feel comfortable having Greenfield continue as a freelancer," she says. "This discussion has been ongoing for the past year."

Backstory: The Hideout booker and local hip-hop artist Mykele Deville, who is Black, was fired in March and posted accusations about The Hideout in October.

  • The Hideout's owners responded with a promise to do better and hire a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, but tell Axios they are legally restricted from commenting on former employees.
  • Multiple artists booked to play there canceled shows, forcing The Hideout to close their doors for the foreseeable future.

What's next: Neither Deville nor The Hideout's owners are commenting beyond their online statements, but Greenfield says he hopes his story will inspire "more coverage of The Hideout by other journalists with attributed quotes that will confirm that my reporting on this issue was accurate."

Full disclosure: Monica and Justin are longtime Hideout patrons, and we've held Axios Office Hours events there.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to note Mykele Deville was fired in March, not April. Additionally, it was clarified to note John Greenfield self-published the story on Medium. 

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