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North Side News Website 'Center Square Journal' Folds

By Emily Morris | October 23, 2013 1:39pm
 The publisher of the hyperlocal site  Center Square Journal  announced he's ending the publication.
The publisher of the hyperlocal site Center Square Journal announced he's ending the publication.
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Center Square Journal

CHICAGO — More than three months after the hyperlocal news site Center Square Journal stopped posting stories, the publisher announced it's time to call it quits.

Mike Fourcher, the founder and publisher of the online-only journal, announced Wednesday that he decided to shutter the publication and described the end (via Facebook) as "a long time coming."

The Journal's last news post was in July. Since then, it had only been posting calendar events.

"I’ve loved getting to know all of you and making a contribution to our community," Fourcher wrote on the site. "We’ve had a great team here, many of whom have gone on to much bigger things. We must have been doing something right."

Fourcher started the Journal in January 2010 to report stories from Lincoln Square, North Center and Ravenswood Manor. A companion publication, the Roscoe View Journal, was launched that August to cover Roscoe Village and West Lakeview.

Neighborhood news was covered by a mix of staff and freelance writers, most of whom have since moved on to other projects and media outlets.

Fourcher now works full-time at eco-tech startup GreenPSF, a job he took in June. Fourcher declined to comment further for this article.

He wrote that even in its last months, the site continued to attract 5,000 readers per week.

As for where readers should turn to now, Fourcher recommended a former staffer now working at DNAinfo Chicago

"If you are looking for good local coverage, I heartily recommend DNAInfo, where one of our former editors, Patty Wetli, leads up the Lincoln Square/Albany Park coverage," he wrote.

Fourcher had shared with readers the challenges of hyperlocal journalism, writing a blog post detailing the lessons he learned from running the site. He wrote of the difficulties of building an audience and maintaining advertisers and, in January, held a community meeting to figure out the future of the site.

"It is clear to me that a significant portion of the community wants to support Center Square Journal, and an even larger portion of the community wants to keep reading," Fourcher said in a post about the meeting. He described how people offered their help when asked if they'd be willing to volunteer to keep the Center Square Journal alive. Apparently, that enthusiasm wasn't enough.

Among the Journal's most popular stories, according to Fourcher, was its November 2012 interview with Glenn Fahlstrom when the restaurant owner said he was leaving his own Glenn's Diner in Ravenswood. Another hit with readers was a December 2012 article about sexual acts allegedly being performed at North Side massage parlors.

Fourcher said he plans keep up the Journal's archives for "many years to come" so readers can continue to find old stories.

At the end of his final sign-off, Fourcher wrote: "Keep doing what you do to make ours a great community."