The rise and fall of Windy Citizen

Windy Citizen
Brad Flora is closing down Windy Citizen for a couple of reasons, “but the main one is that for some time now it has cost more to keep up than it’s been generating revenue-wise,” Flora writes in a note to readers. Also, he notes, “the internet is a lot different today than it was just over 4 years ago. …Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Everyblock, these sites do a great job of keeping people up to date on what’s happening in the communities they care about.”

Windy Citizen was something of a darling when it launched; Steve Johnson wrote a mostly positive review of the site after it changed its name from Chicago Methods Reporter. Tim McGuire of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication raved about Flora:

To my old media, hidebound mind he will make some savvy investor big-time money. I was blown away by his creativity, his practicality and his passion. He knows story-telling, he knows local news and he fits in no newspaper box of which I’m aware.

Amy Gahran wrote about Windy Citizen’s use of “innovative, fun approaches” to cover the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

And the Knight Foundation gave the site $35,000 in 2009 “to upgrade software used by The Windy Citizen ( to enable the site to expand and better integrate with other social media platforms” and $250,000 the next year “to create real-time ads that pull from companies’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs,” according to a Poynter story. “I’ve been told I’m one of the — if not THE — most persistent applicants they’ve ever had,” Flora told Robert Feder.

NowSpots, the advertising company Flora founded with that grant money, is still operational.

“Everything’s full-steam ahead” at NowSpots, Flora tells me via email. “Closing down Windy Citizen is just the sensible thing to do,” he writes. “Usage and ad revenue has trailed off over time, hosting and editorial costs remained constant, and NowSpots stuff has been going very well and demanding my full attention.”

Related: Expiration of three grants forces Crosscut to cut back on publishing and figure out new game plan (

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  • digidave

    Considering the success of NowSpots so far – this really is a sensible move. Flora has to concentrate his efforts. 

  • Patrick Boylan

    The local eco system is shaking out, though I think Brad ended WC due to success at the Knight-funded ad-vehicle NowSpots. Since the beginning of the year the list we keep has shown the following closed sites:
    Windy Citizen
    AV Club
    Chicago School Wonks
    A-Ville Daily
    Chicago Independent Advertising Network
    Chicago News Cooperative

    And personally, I always add the three Brown Line Media sites Michael Fourcher ran prior to joining Journatic. Pb

  • Dalka

    The questionable segmentation between “tier 1″ and “tier 2″ site ad rates plays a role in this. There needs to be innovation there, but that innovation would be disruptive in other ways so many don’t want to do it. 

  • Anna Tarkov

    It’s the end of an era. WC is what launched me into media, as this local piece notes: