You call this a newspaper? POS Chicago Trib!

Anyone else have their local paper ruined lately?

A couple of weeks ago the Chicago Tribune went through a thorough makeover, ostensibly aimed at attracting younger readers and reducing costs. Now it has been many a year since the Trib was really a good newspaper, but up until this recent redo it at least had its readable parts.

As I see it, their primary intention was to blur the line between news and ads. By adding graphics and pictures, and wrapping stories around ads (even on the front page), I often find myself skipping over stories mistaking them for ads.

They have drastically reduced content and depth - not that it was anything to write home about before. Most stories are extremely superficial and brief. And in the rare instance that an article continues to another page, there is no guarantee that it will be continued in the same section!

They apparently combined the front page, the local section, and business into 2 sections, with the result that you no longer know where to find what. Business generally gets a whopping 2 pages. Today I hit the obits, and thought I was done with the particular section, only to flip the page and notice the OpEd page. Who ever heard of such a thing?

It used to require a little effort to get through all of the parts of the Sunday paper I wanted to read. Now, it takes no more than a quick half-hour over coffee (not including the crossword).

They seem to be anticipating their own demise, as they continually direct readers to their on-line site for more info. Hell, if I wanted to read the paper on-line I would but I don’t!

Who knows where weather will be on any particular day. And they stopped printing the daily TV schedule.

Oh well, at least they brought back the horoscopes, and increased the size of the advise column! :rolleyes:

Sorry if this post is a tad mild for the chosen forum, but believe me, any comment about the new Trib DEFINITELY belongs in the Pit!

Welcome to the brave (not so) new world of newspaper publishing. The problem for these places is that they are trying to make money in world where their traditional revenue streams have almost dried up. What we get, then, is large cutbacks to the journalistic staff, an increasing use of outsourced “news” material, and a general dumbing down of content.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation airs a 15-minute show called MediaWatch each Monday night. It looks at journalistic ethics, media manipulations, and other issues related to the news media. On May 5 this year, they had a very interesting episode on some of the pressures facing newspapers. The situation in Australia lags behind the US a bit, but most of the issues are pretty much the same.

You can download the episode here (scroll down to Episode 12: Wired for the Future).

If you’re interested in media issues, i highly recommend watching other episodes; MediaWatch is one of my favorite shows.

Good grief! I sure hope this isn’t going to be the new model for the Gannett papers. They’re bad enough already. (shuddering)

Here’s how you can change this dynamic:

  1. Persuade a few thousand (or hundred thousand, depending on the market) new people to subscribe to your newspaper.

  2. Persuade them to always go shopping with the newspaper under their arm, with the ad for the store showing; and to always mention that they saw this store’s ad in the newspaper.

  3. Persuade them to spend as much of their shopping money as possible in stores that do newspaper advertising. Especially auto dealerships, real estate brokers, and department stores.


Invent some kind of newspaper that doesn’t require the vast expense of actually being printed every day, which is then recycled at the end of the day. Something like the things that the folks were reading on the commuter train in “Minority Report” if memory serves.

Sadly, newspapers are engaged in a business model with tremendous overhead that puts the pressure of survival on their bottom lines. If they can’t cover those costs, they have to cut somewhere else or go out of business. The future, to put it mildly, is not rosy.

By the way, I heard the person who did that re-design interviewed on NPR. He is apparently the current golden child in the industry, as more and more newspapers (my own included, coming soon to a Bay Area near you) pin their hopes on re-design.

The New York Times redesigned the weekday paper recently to eliminate the separate metro and sports sections, reducing the number of sections to four on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The reason is that the presses they use can print four sections at once. When the paper had more sections, they had to do two press runs and then combine them.

I can’t complain too much, though, as I now only read the paper online.

I have been a subscriber to the Trib for 20 years now, and I am pissed. The entire paper is now filled with ads, the stories are written at a 5th-grade level now, and the paper is no longer divided into logical sections. WTF were they thinking?

(Hey, at least they endorsed Obama though.)

Frank Poole had something similar in 2001. Here’s the prototype.

Face it, Dinsy, the Trib hasn’t been the same since The Colonel died. I mean, they endorsed A DEMOCRAT, fercryinoutloud!

Excellent. I wonder if they’ve conquered the problems of power storage and ability to download content wirelessly (a la the Kindle)?

The transition from disposable paper (cheap, no commitment to a particular technology, it can be thrown in the recycle bin and someone else can retrieve it and read it again) to something like this will take years, though. I wonder how many professional news-gathering and -disseminating organizations will still be in place by the time this has started to show any momentum.

Mike Royko must be rolling over in his grave. He jumped from the Sun-Times to the Tribune when Rupert Murdoch bought it, saying “No self respecting fish would be caught dead wrapped in one of Murdoch’s papers.”

This is as it should be. Nothing much newsworthy happening in business these days.

In addition to crappy format, unreadable layout, and impossible-to-find sections, their reporting level has hit the tubes. This morning’s headline, about the murder of Jennifer Hudson’s mother and sister, was a huge, blaring front-page headline, and the article nowhere said who Ms Hudson was. OK, any murder or death is tragic and news-worthy, but this was more than half the front page… and no attention paid to the journalism rules of “Who, what, when, where” ?

It is kinda weird, and maybe not a huge thing in the grand scheme of things. But I remember reading the comics and Royko in the afternoon edition of the Daily News when I was a kid. I’ve gotten the Trib deliviered daily since I left school, 20+ years ago. As someone who is a committed reader, there is just something so right about having the news delivered to your door. The ritual of divvyng up the sections, and reading the paper over morning coffee or on the train has been a minor, but very pleasant ritual throughout my adult life. No, the Trib was no great shakes, but if you at least skimmed through it regularly you could feel that you were not completely out of touch with the news of your community, nation and world, arts, sports, what have you. A minor committment to make you a better-informed citizen of your community and world.

Yes, the NYT is an alternative, and in many ways undoubtedly a superior rag, but as a lifelong Chicagoan I want my fix of local news. And at the risk of sounding like an inflexible curmudgeon, it pisses me off that this pleasant daily ritual is being taken away from me by technological and economic changes. Yes, I know I can subscribe to any number of on-line sources. But as somewhat of a print junkie in the form of books, magazines, and newspapers, I assure you they are a poor substitute for newsprint.

Just yet another minor exampe of a technological development that I am convinced is not improving the quality of my life.

In the hinterlands at least, we’ve only had separate sports sections in the Times on Sundays and Mondays. I always thought the reason was that the Times was embarassed at having to print sports news at all.

I understand that newspapers are having to cut back in order to preserve their bottom line. I just wish they were more upfront about their obnoxious changes. For instance, the Columbus (OH) Dispatch’s strategy is to sneak changes into the paper and hope no one notices, or at least that there is insufficient outrage to force a change back to the old content. Interestingly, while they had to retreat on shrinking baseball box scores to eliminate current batting averages, they’ve held fast on condensing the business section and having smaller pages overall.

It’s a fun ritual for me to read newspapers on Friday nights and Sunday mornings and spend an hour or more going through all the different sections. Online reading just isn’t the same.

Another gripe - the local supermarkets seem to have stopped carrying the Cincinnati Enquirer, which is always good for local/regional scandals/crime/racism stories. Instead they carry the New York Post of all things. It’s bad enough that this Murdochian trash is sold in New York, but to export it to central Ohio?

Stuff changes, often for the worse.

We’re seeing the same thing with our local rag, which is owned by McClatchy (who has seen their stock plummet even before the crash). We’re now seeing full-page ads for shoe magnets and other National Inquirer-type items.