Three reasons the new Tribune tabloid should be free, a twitter serial (republished in blog form)

The Tribune announced this week that they will begin printing the fat Chicago daily as a tabloid! Huzzah!

The Tribune’s move, replacing its broadsheet edition with the tabloid version at the retail level, is an aggressive bet that a switch in size will improve sales. There are no plans to make the tabloid-sized edition available for home delivery

I thought today’s tweets on the topic might be good to republish.

Brian Boyer
brianboyer Three reasons the new Tribune tabloid ( should be free, a twitter serial. Bring on the haters
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 1 If the paper is free, I pick it up. (Even the Red Eye, which runs 1/3 celebritrash, not including sports, neither of which I care for.)
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 2 On a tabloid page, I notice (and occasionally read!) the ads. On a broadsheet, they’re just annoying blocks to reading.
Brian Boyer
brianboyer 3 TribCo’s current gratis daily is crap. A proper paper would bring a new age of enlightenment in Chicago. Embiggen, Obama, Olympics.
Brian Boyer
brianboyer = $$$ from more effective ads shown to a larger audience, plus an improved, vital brand, loved by a better-informed populace. You dig?

Am I nuts? Riding the train this morning, I saw a lot of glossy-eyed folks reading the Red Eye, and a few diligent readers struggling with the crowd and the fatty broadsheet.


Outbound links? EveryBlock? What the hell just happened at the Trib?

I just had an interesting chat with Daniel X. O’Neil, EveryBlock‘s People Person, and he confirmed my suspicions…

Two (maybe three) *totally amazing* things happened on today.

  1. They silently released a new “(beta test)” feature, an EveryBlock-enabled police blotterGaper’s Block got the scoop, from, get this, a tweet by the Tribune’s twitter persona, according to Daniel.
  2. More shockingly, the aforementioned blotter links *out* to EveryBlock, which links *out* to other news organizations. Click on one of the “more news in this neighborhood” links to see for yourself. I’m not positive, but I think this is a Tribune Company first!
  3. (maybe) They added a digg widget to their homepage? This may have happened earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

Who runs newspapers? Who should run news web sites?

Joel Spolsky from Inc. Magazine (via SVN):

Watching nonprogrammers trying to run software companies is like watching someone who doesn’t know how to surf trying to surf. Even if he has great advisers standing on the shore telling him what to do, he still falls off the board again and again. The cult of the M.B.A. likes to believe that you can run organizations that do things that you don’t understand. But often, you can’t.

Readers, I need a hand.  Can you answer two questions for a newbie?

  1. I don’t know who runs newspapers.  Are publishers usually former journalists?  Or are they more frequently experts in publishing topics like ads, printing and distribution?
  2. Who should run news web sites?

I’m constantly amazed at how bad news web sites are.

For example: Search the Chicago Tribune for my dean’s name, “Lavine.”  It returns no results.  There were at least a half dozen articles about Dean Lavine printed in the last six months, I promise.  What gives?

My suspicion is that the folks running the news sites just don’t understand the web.  If the web is the future of news, should technologists be the publishers?  I’m thinking no, instead it should probably be tech-saavy journalists.

The only strong feeling I have is that it should *not* be ink and paper newspaper publishers.

Links: NYT catching on, Tribune so far behind it makes my webs weep

“The WWW world consists of documents, and links.” — Tim Berners-Lee, in alt.hypertext, 1991.

red light district, by SMN
red light district, by SMN

Why do newspapers publish AP articles online? Why not just link to them? David Cohen says “Stop buying Associated Press articles.”

They are called hyperlinks. They are blue. They are useful. Look Ma’ – here’s an AP story. And it didn’t cost me a thing to link to it!

Money spent on the AP could be money saved and then used for… Innovation!

But, there’s hope! Scott Karp wrote on the Publish2 blog:

The New York Times has certainly embraced blogging, but it was striking to see… just how much they’ve embraced link journalism.

In a traditional newspaper article, all of these facts and analysis would have been synthesized, but the reader wouldn’t have had the opportunity to read for themselves the source material. This post does what journalism is supposed to do — empower people with facts, understanding, and perspective about important issues.

My local paper, the Chicago Tribune, doesn’t just suck at linking, they suck at being a web site. Their documents die. I don’t link to Trib articles because within weeks, they almost certainly vanish.

Ben Estes, editor of, spoke to our class last week. When I asked why the links died, he said that it was because they (I don’t know exactly who “they” is… I’m supposing the Trib brass.) don’t want to spend the money on, get this, disk space.

Disk space. Cheap-ass disk space.