Mara Shalhoup named Chicago Reader editor

Longtime <i>CL</i> editorial staffer joins storied publication in four weeks


Mara Shalhoup, the editor in chief of CL’s Atlanta paper since January 2010, has been tapped to lead the Chicago Reader, a sister publication.

“Mara’s passion about music and arts coverage is infectious, and her experience in reporting on politics and social issues is stellar,” Reader Publisher Alison Draper said in a statement. “She brings a healthy respect for the Reader’s traditions as well as a keen grasp of our need to cultivate daring new ideas that expand our reach and redefine the Reader in its 40th year of service to Chicago.”

Shalhoup, who’s lived and worked in Georgia nearly all her life, told sad-eyed editorial staffers this morning that the decision wasn’t an easy one. However, the Reader is a storied publication in one of the country’s most vibrant cities — and a tough opportunity to pass up.

“Mara is rare among her peers in her vision and savvy approach to the reinvention of our craft and business,” CL CEO Marty Petty said. “She is precisely the kind of leader we need at the Reader — someone with a passionate commitment to smart, relevant coverage of what’ s important if the city of Chicago is central to your life.”

Prior to joining CL in 2000, Shalhoup covered crime at the Macon Telegraph. She’s filled a variety of editorial roles at the Atlanta alt-weekly and established herself with stand-out investigative pieces. Such works as “Learning to hit a lick” and her groundbreaking work on the Black Mafia Family saga earned Shalhoup numerous state, regional and national awards along the way — including Best Feature Story of 2005 from the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and 2007 Journalist of the Year from the Atlanta Press Club. Her book BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family was published last year by St. Martin’s Press.

“She’s been a driving force and contributed incredible work,” CL Publisher Sharry Smith said this morning. “Mara’s gonna do us proud in Chicago.”

Shalhoup starts at the Reader in one month but will continue to oversee several Atlanta editorial projects until their completion. CL Publisher Sharry Smith says the company will immediately start a search, with input from editorial staffers, to fill the EIC position.

It goes without saying that all of us here are bummed but excited for her. Congrats, Mara. Well deserved.