Not your grandson's Tribune any longer? | Bleader

Monday, June 6, 2011

Not your grandson's Tribune any longer?

Posted By on 06.06.11 at 08:30 AM

The Tribune is about to roll out changes in the print and online product that will add some gravitas. Staff meetings were scheduled for Monday to explain the changes, which I've heard the public could see as soon as mid-June.

Here's a link to a protype of a new website. It's a cleaner, more grown-up looking variation on the present site, topped by a piece of charmingly dry self-assertion, "Breaking News, Since 1847."

A recent Crain's Chicago Business article on the coming new print edition — "enhanced" seems to be the term of choice inside the Tower — quoted Medill professor Owen Youngman, previously a Tribune editor, as saying the paper can't afford to lose the "high-education, high-disposable-income audience.” This is an audience as willing to jump to conclusions as anybody else, and the anecdotal evidence that I've accumulated tells me that a series of fateful decisions and misadventures in the Tower — purchase by a motorcycle cowboy; elimination of the foreign service; bankruptcy; wave after wave of layoffs; the goofball leadership of Randy Michaels, now deposed; and a jokey page three that hid serious news away in the back room (some longtime readers would say the endorsement of Barack Obama for president should top this list) — has persuaded many of the richest and best educated that the Tribune is no longer worth their while. These days a lot of wavering print readers welcome any excuse to drop a newspaper, and I've had friends who didn't want to hear that the Tribune isn't nearly as bad as they think it is. They were happy to think of themselves as New York Times readers only — the choice expressed their standards.

But perhaps expanded business and op-ed sections — elements of the enhanced Tribune I've heard could be coming — would help change their minds.

There's been speculation that the enhancements to the daily paper would show up as supplemental material offered to subscribers for a surcharge — along the lines of Five Star, a high-brow Sunday supplement that didn't make it into production despite months of R&D. But I'm told the enhanced Tribune will be the only Tribune.

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