Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tribune Co. will likely spare RedEye


The item I posted here Wednesday headlined "Tribune Co. cuts include RedEye" was wrong. I could blame it on an AP story, but I should have checked with RedEye publisher Brad Moore first.


When I saw the AP story about how the Tribune Company was going to supposedly cut staff from all of its products, including RedEye, I thought "That's nuts! RedEye is Tribune's ticket to the future!"

Major metro newspapers like the Chicago Tribune long ago lost the 18-39 crowd to TV. RedEye delivers that demo to national advertisers. RedEye, along with BostonNow, amNewYork, (Tampa-St. Pete's) *tbt, (Dallas) Quick, and a few others I could name are newspapers that people in that age group read. These papers have incredibly small return rates. We need more of them. And we need for those papers to print more copies each day. They could easily dominate their markets in terms of sheer numbers.

The following is directed to Sam Zell, the new boss at Tribune: You need to consider replicating RedEye in other markets -- South Florida, Baltimore-Washington, New Jersey, Atlanta ... just a few that come to mind.

MetroMix Los Angeles was a drop in the bucket -- a 100,000 circulation weekly in a city of 9 million. Who cares? If you're going to have an impact, print more papers, publish every day and report what the heck happened yesterday. That gets people to pick it up. It's old fashioned journalism but edited more tightly for the time-compressed reader of today.

You can cover music, movies, video games, etc., but also give them crime, sex, celebrities and powerbrokers doing bad things -- the stuff of daily newspapers since the days of the penny press. Young people will eat it up -- particularly if you toss out the AP Stylebook and write it with words these readers use in conversation.

Look, I know your consultants are saying that the Internet is the future. The Internet is wonderful, but print will always exist. People like to hold newspapers and books in their hands. Give them something they want to hold. Something they want to grab every morning. Something that's so essential to their lives that they willingly walk several blocks to get it every morning.

I'm glad you're not cutting RedEye. But you ought to be pouring money into it and funding similar papers in other markets. It is the salvation of the Tribune Co.