Seems like an almost done deal. The Chicago Tribune has chosen to become a shallow, tabloid newspaper, chasing 20-somethings with a short attention span.
I got in touch with Coleen Davison. “We’d been [Tribune] subscribers for 12 or 13 years,” she told me. “Obviously we’ve seen changes we weren’t thrilled by, but the last redesign was the final straw. It was sound-bite journalism — all pictures, no stories.”
They gave the new Tribune a week and then decided to cancel the subscription to their Naperville home. At the suggestion of the woman in circulation she spoke to about that, Coleen participated in a readers’ phone survey. “As I recall,” she told me, “almost all of the questions were extremely vague and general. The respondee was asked to answer on a scale of 1 to 5 whether they agreed or disagreed. The only question that came remotely close to allowing me to voice my displeasure was something like ‘I think the redesign contains too many pictures.’ I was frustrated that the survey seemed designed to only allow for positive feedback.”
So she wrote a redesign feedback link she found at the Tribune Web site and complained. She told the paper that although its survey hadn’t let her say so, she was “also appalled by the significant drop in the quality of what little news is reported. Rearranging and renaming the sections I can deal with, but the new Tribune looks and reads like a tabloid magazine.”
She went on, “I understand the need to update your look periodically, and I also understand the desire to attract more readers. It’s just terribly sad that the way you chose to do this was to pander to those who prefer tabloid journalism to real news.” Her long note, which I’m merely excerpting here, she signed “Sadly and sincerely.”
She heard back from John McCormick of the Tribune editorial board
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I’ve been a Tribune subscriber since 1994, and I’ve just about decided to cancel my subscription as well. There just isn’t much news in the Tribune these days, and so why bother getting it delivered? I already subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and the weekend New York Times, perhaps I’ll just expand my NYT subscription. The Trib is a pale shadow of the paper it used to be, and Sam Zell obviously doesn’t give a shit about readers like me.