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article imageChicago Tribune considers Sunday edition without ads

By Kim I. Hartman     Sep 6, 2010 in Business
Chicago - The Chicago Tribune is hard at work on a new project that will cost subscribers and readers a few more dollars but will eliminate the advertisements in a new weekly Sunday edition. The premium content will focus exclusively on news and cultural events.
The inevitable comment is this: That's what the Tribune is already supposed to be doing.
The Tribune is calling this new product by a rich and ancient name, Five Star—signifying the final edition, the one with the ball scores and theater reviews, the one a big city wakes up to in the morning. Sources of the Chicago Reader are saying the Tribune hopes to unveil the new version of the Tribune in January.
The Chicago Reader reports the Five Star consists of four sections printed on heavy, expensive stock. They're called the A Section, Culture, Focus, and Words, and the first three—all but the tabloid literary section—are broadsheets, roughly 13 by 23 inches. That was a pretty standard size in the day when newspapers were newspapers, but it's zaftig by current standards, two inches wider than the present Tribune, which was narrowed by half an inch in 2007 and another inch in February. The 'dummy copy' the Reader says they have obtained a copy of is. 56 pages in length, with a coffee-table heft that sends a message: read me or don't, but your home will feel tonier for having me in it.
Micheal Miner of the Chicago Reader has this to say:
Two Tribune editors I called about the Five Star project said the only thing they could tell me was that they couldn't tell me anything. The Trib's top editor, Gerould Kern, didn't return my call. What I hear from less official sources is that the plan is to offer Five Star to Sunday subscribers for an extra $5 a week, beginning with a print run of 25,000 copies. Sunday is the day when newspapers make whatever money they're still able to make; but the Tribune reported in April that over a six-month measuring period its Sunday circulation had dropped 7.5 percent from the year before. Meanwhile the Sunday circulation of the New York Times had dropped just 5.2 percent. And circulation of the Times's Chicago edition had actually increased a little—or so I was told in May by the Times editor in New York who oversees the two pages of Chicago news prepared every Friday and Sunday for the Times by the Chicago News Cooperative.
Can the Tribune pull this off? Can it round up a stable of dazzling contributors? The articles in the dummy promise intellectual firepower, but few came from the Tribune. In the Culture section, for instance, Miner spotted articles poached from recent editions of the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, and Salon.
For more on the Chicago Tribune story stay tuned Michael Miner's column in the Chicago Reader.
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