Young Readers and the Future of the Chicago Tribune

In late 1973 and early 1974 I was part of a committee at the Chicago Tribune.  The committee members were all under 30 and most of us recent hires by the newspaper.  Our task was to explore what the paper should do to attract more younger readers.  This task was less about getting young adults to read newspapers but to read the Tribune instead of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Members of the committee: Ovie Carter, Gary Deeb, Howard Finberg, Clarence Page, Don Pierson, Bill Plunkett, Karen Schickedanz, Rick Soll and Linda Winer.  Here’s what we wrote in our summary:

Simply stated, the Chicago Tribune takes itself too seriously. This is not to diminish its role as one of the nation’s best newspapers. Rather, it is a suggestion that the time has come for the Chicago Tribune to slaughter, once and for all, many of its sacred cows.

Further on, we concluded:

What we are recommending, in a general way, is a relaxation of the restraint that prohibits surprise and thought-provoking material from appearing in the Tribune.   It is not a recommendation to relax or reduce in any  way the standards of journalism: Strict reverence for the facts, a sense of fairness, and an attention to thoro reporting.

Please note the unique spelling of thorough, as the Tribune was still gripped by a style book that used simplified spelling, a cause of the previous owner/publisher:  Col. Robert McCormick.

The  is available as a PDF file: chi trib_young readers group_02_1974