Today’s flotsam:

* Three newspapers in Florida are going to test the waters in content sharing. What makes it unique is that none of the three — the Miami Herald, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post — are owned by the same company, but all three compete in the same regional marketplace. The experiment will continue for three months and will be re-examined after that.

Remember these words: “Your enemies become your allies” in the new media world.

Someone is catching on.

*Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the Chicago Tribune redesign will not look like the prototype leaked to Editor & Publisher earlier this week. Too bad, I thought it showed that those in power at the Trib had the guts to try something radical to attact a new breed of readers.

Let’s hope that the redesign that debuts in late September will be as fresh and radical as the leaked prototype. The last thing the Trib needs is to apply fresh makup on a dying horse.

* A few readers have asked me why I haven’t chimed in on the recent departure of Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti. My answer: Why should I waste my time?


Editor & Publisher today posted on its site today what it calls a prototype of the Chicago Tribune’s highly-awaited redesign. If the pictured front page is an indication of reality, it confirms my belief that the Trib plans to parlay the success of its youth-oriented RedEye into the flagship product.

If so, give Tribune execs credit for a gutsy move … one that may pay off in the long run. When the pre-Zell Tribune created RedEye, the plan was to get young adults to read a paper that has interests them, with the hopes that they would migrate to the flagship paper. I’m guessing the current Trib brain trust is finding those RedEye readers ready to migrate are looking at the current Tribune and saying “no way.”

What makes RedEye appealing is the format, a quick-read paper for the mobile generation who don’t have time to sit and read a full newspaper. The Trib prototype picks up that essence, and though it may drastically change the depth of substance, the substance will appeal to those who are ready to move from sexy dress in the workplace to coping with the recession.

That, along with the appointment of RedEye editor Jane Hirt as the Trib’s new managing editor, points toward an era of a “quick read” Tribune, aimed at the news grazers.

Whether this is a successful formula remains to be seen. But give the Tribune credit for having guts. We’re surely not seeing enough of that in the industry right now.

Boy, if this doesn’t prove my point yesterday, then we’re really out of it. The Tribune names Red Eye editor Jane Hirt as managing editor.

The cynics look for a dumbed-down Tribune with a lot of fluff and little depth. I say editor Gerry Kern recognizes where his audience is going, sees where his success stories and been, and is making moves to adapt the flagship to meet those new readers’s needs.

I expect a news smorgasbord in the new Tribune, instead of the five-course dinner it’s offering now. There will be authority and depth .. in keeping withn tradition … but it’ll most likely be sliced and diced into more digestible nuggets.

Perfect for grazing.

It’s nice to be proven right. A couple of months ago I wrote that we are becoming a nation of “news grazers,” getting out information fix from here and there, but taking it in at our convenience throughout our very hectic days. This grazing has disrupted the newspaper experience, which requires you to stop, read and digest all at once.

Well, the folks at the Pew Research Center released a new report on changing habits of readers. Among the bullet points of the report (conveniently ‘grazed’ by Poynter’s Amy Gahran) is that, indeed, news grazers have become the norm.

Now that we have officially recognize news grazing as the way new readers get their news, maybe those who have been in denial will finally realize they need to change the way we provide the news to them?

Google and Yahoo have recognized it for years. Huffington Post is catching on quick. If we, as those who actually produce content, don’t reign back our territory, we’ll be out of business.

Remember, news grazers don’t care where the news source comes from. So, as a news producer, news organizations should decide what they do best and focus on that. What you can’t do well, get from someone else, even if it’s your competition.

News grazers like the convenience. If we figure out a way to provide a premium experience, we may even be able to make some money off of it, either through a subscription service or advertiser support.

OK, I see you moving on to something else, so I’ll stop.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the 40 people who were involuntarily let go at the Chicago Tribune last Friday. Among the staffers let go, according to Michael Miner’s blog, were veteran copy editor Charlie Dickenson and writer/editor Pat Kampert.

I know them both and, frankly, it’s a big loss. Both are very talented writers and copy editors (and in Charlie’s case, an accomplished author). Their talents, combined with the talents of the others let go, will be nearly impossible to replicate.

Yes, the business needs to change and become leaner. But I worry that we’re losing the very knowledge base that give our newspapers the credibility our readers demand.

UPDATE: The Rockford Register-Star lays of 13 staffers and closes its Springfield bureau. I assume they will expect the Springfield Journal-Register, a fellow GateHouse Media newspaper, to help pick up the loss of state legislature news.

For the big picture on newspaper losses, check out Erica Smith’s pretty comprehensive Paper Cuts blog.

Today’s flotsam:

*Thursday’s Tribune Metro section led with a staff-produced story about how people in the Chicago exurb of Harvard have coped after Motorola closed up its massive cell phone plant five years ago, thereby eliminating the town’s largest employer and road to prosperity.

On Page 5, a full-page ad placed by Harvard’s economic group touts the benefits of bringing your business to the town.

An uncanny coincidence brought about by the wall separating editorial and advertising, or the Tribune’s new premium ad policy (place a full-page ad, and we’ll focus a news section on your issues)?

With public editor Tim McNulty gone, I guess we’ll never get an answer.

But for REAL coincidence, Motorola announced the same day they’re selling the Harvard building to another company (or do we have a real conspiracy working here?)

*The Huffington Post debuted its Chicago “local” edition today. My first thought is why would anyone want to open a new venture in a market that is over saturated with media?

But after looking over it, I have to give Adrianna credit for doing her homework. HuffPo Chicago is by no means the “hyperlocal” product that the metro area could really use, but it IS a one-stop shop for city news. I could do without John Cusack’s pining for the city life, but the selection of stories from the city’s metros was well-done, and the “quick read” feature is great.

It takes the Trib’s Daywatch compilation one … no, make that about four … steps further. And I predict HuffPo Chicago will become a force to reckon with.