Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

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Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

Alexander Aghayere

Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

Alexander Aghayere

Alexander Aghayere

Third Coast Review looks to fill gap left by Gapers Block hiatus

By Arts & Culture Editor

Chicago’s arts and culture scene has gotten a little less specialized, thanks to the “indefinite hiatus” of local news site Gapers Block.

Founded in 2003 by Andrew Huff, Gapers Block has been one of Chicago’s go-to sources for theatre, literature, music, sports and political news. However, in a statement labeled “A Letter From The Editor,” Huff announced the website will go on an indefinite hiatus, which began Jan.1. Huff said he was unable to dedicate time to the site’s substantial workload since taking on his father’s business—Glendale Communications Group—and the exit of managing editor Mike Ewing for TouchVision alternative news site made maintaining Gapers Block difficult.

“A lot of these websites and blogs have one person behind the core who’s the driving force behind the whole thing,” Ewing said. “Andrew—for a while—knew he was going to have more responsibilities coming in for his father’s company. He was trying to find ways to reduce his role as part of Gapers Block but keep the site going.”

The news may come as a bit of a surprise to loyal readers, but former editor-at-large David Schalliol said the hiatus had been under consideration for a while before the official announcement.

“The conversation was a long conversation,” Schalliol said. “[It was] something Andrew had raised with the editors a number of years ago as one option of what might be happening in the future. Although the thought wasn’t about when to close it, but what is the future of the site.”

As a volunteer-driven space, Gapers Block allowed new writers’ voices to emerge and enabled them to write about the things they enjoyed, including music, art, literature, film and politics, according to Ewing. Now that the website is gone, Ewing said there will be a void in the kind of coverage the site offered. 

“With Gapers Block, we could get people who were good writers and invested in local culture and just give them a place to speak and be heard,” Ewing said. “There’s some magic that happens to that inevitably.”

Gapers Block will live on as an archive for past articles, but it is unlikely the site will ever resume operation any time in the near future, according to Nancy S. Bishop, former Gapers Block arts and culture editor.

Bishop said Third Coast Review—a spinoff of Gapers Block that started publishing on Jan. 6—will aim to fill the gap left by Gapers Block. 

Third Coast Review already boasts several contributing and staff writers and editors from Gapers Block—including former theater writer Kim Campbell, contributor Robert O’Conner and Huff as a senior adviser to the site.

“One of our goals in starting Third Coast Review was to fill that arts and culture gap,” Bishop said. “All of us that got involved in the beginning were interested in writing about the things we’d been writing about.”

Campbell said she is sad to see Gapers Block end but thinks Third Coast Review is a sort of tribute to the trailblazing site.

“Gapers Block will be missed,” Campbell said. “It had its own flavor. Third Coast Review isn’t going to be the same thing, but I think it’s an homage to that and it will help people who were fans of [Gapers Block] continue to find amazing things to do in Chicago.”

Those working on the new site seem optimistic that it will keep the spirit of Gapers Block alive in one way or another.

“Because it’s new and there are a lot of technical things to be dealt with, [Bishop] does have a lot on her plate, so we’re trying to help her with that,” Campbell said. “Hopefully she will survive this beginning process, and we can keep it going for years to come.”

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