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.


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