Wednesday, July 31, 2002


The Chicago Tribune has just bought Chicago Magazine, continuing its ravenous gobbling of local (and national) media.

Publisher Scott Smith cheerfully announces in a memo: "This acquisition allows Chicago Tribune to continue expanding the ways in which it serves local readers and advertisers in Chicago, just as it does through several other targeted publications it owns and operates."

Underscore the word "advertisers" in the above. The winners in this deal are the Trib's ad sales people, who can now sell meatier ad packages that include space in the Trib and Chicago mag (and WGN TV and radio and...) The readers are losers, since they will get less reporting and writing done by fewer people spread over more media synergistic space, as the Trib and Chicago mag start to share resources.

Meanwhile, what of Steve Rhodes' media column? How can he possibly claim to speak as an independent watchdog of local media? A friend who just came to the Trib from Chicago mag says one of Steve's worries will be having his e-mail address end in "" and then ask for tips. As Romenesko asks, is this the end of profiles of Trib people?

Not to bite the hand that feeds me, but how can the Trib come across as so self-righteous about its ethical hairsplitting on the question of the Ground Zero photographer while smugly plowing ahead with this disservice to its readers, this watering down of their media diet? (And don't get me started one of the all-time major breaches of conflict of interest, the Trib's ownership of the Chicago Cubs...)

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