Reader editor Mara Shalhoup heads for L.A.

Mara Shalhoup

Mara Shalhoup

Mara Shalhoup, who led the Chicago Reader through an ownership change while revitalizing its digital and print editions, has resigned after four years as editor of the alternative weekly.

Shalhoup told her staff Monday that she is leaving, effective February 13, to become editor of LA Weekly, a Los Angeles alternative publication owned by Voice Media Group. The announcement came three days after the Reader’s editorial employees voted to unionize through the Chicago Newspaper Guild, but Shalhoup said the two events were unrelated.

"I recognize that the timing of this announcement is coming on the heels of your decision to unionize,” she said in a note to staff. “I had accepted this job prior to last week's vote but didn't want to tell you sooner — because I didn't want my decision to persuade you one way or the other."

Shalhoup, 38, named here among the most powerful women in Chicago journalism last May, joined the Reader in March 2011 after 10 years as an editor and reporter at Creative Loafing in Atlanta. In May 2012, the Reader was sold to Wrapports LLC, parent company of the Sun-Times.

Of her new position, Shalhoup said in a statement: "L.A. has countless stories to tell, and the Weekly has shown extraordinary skill in unearthing so many great ones — and finding new ways to expand the art of storytelling.”

A search is under way for Shalhoup’s successor. Managing editor Jake Malooley is believed to be among internal candidates for the top job.

“We thank Mara for her many accomplishments during her four-plus years as the editor of the Reader,” Jim Kirk, publisher and editor in chief of Sun-Times Media, said in a statement. “Among her many successes, she led the Reader through a digital redesign that resulted in tremendous audience growth across our digital platforms. Her commitment to the editorial integrity and heritage of the Reader was evident throughout her tenure and helped the Reader win numerous prestigious awards from various organizations. We wish her nothing but the best as she goes on to lead LA Weekly. They are lucky to have her.”