Or color supplement, or rotogravure, or pictorial weekly. Whatever you call it, if newspapers are the endangered rhinos of the media world, then the Sunday magazines are the white rhinos.
The Chicago Tribune this past Sunday announced they were discontinuing the separate Sunday magazine. It was a little shocking, because isn’t that what Sunday papers were for–longer, more involved, more thoughtful pieces? But after the news sunk in, I guess it made sense. The magazine recently had slimmed down to one cover article, a recipe, a couple columns, and the crossword. Thankfully, Rick Kogan’s column will be included elsewhere in the paper on Sunday. He’s a civic treasure. They ought to siphon out his brain and put it in a robot, so people can remember everything that makes this city great (not excluding Rick Kogan robots, either).
I have a sentimental attachment to the Trib Magazine Section. It was where I had my first story printed. Back in 1990, they carried “Jerry’s Last Fare,” which actually was also the first of many annual Christmas stories that I write for my wife. Of course it was a little sentimental, but it was the holidays, deal with it. I was ecstatic that they were going to print it. Households all over the Midwest (how many? A million? Or close to it back then?) would have a story of mine sitting around their house in the week before the holiday, kicking around the coffee table, maybe picked up by two, three, five secondary readers! If I remember correctly, we were headed out of town to my in-laws in Michigan on the Saturday morning, and so we bought a few at Jewel, then bought up a lot of copies when we got to the west side of the state. We bought the copies that my proud father-in-law hadn’t gotten yet. I still have a lot of yellowing copies somewhere. Like a lot of other things, you never forget your first paid story.
I’m sad to see it go, but frankly the Sunday Trib has less and less to read every week. It’s not just because they’re jettisoning too many writers–they’ve also let the morons from Red Eye choose the content. While market research will tell them to print snappy, trendy factoids to attract the hip set, common sense would tell them Sunday papers aren’t meant for skimming–they’re meant to be read over coffee and sweet rolls. We only get the Sunday Trib out of habit now, and give almost all our attention to the Sunday NY Times.
On the other hand, maybe in the back of my mind, I feel like subsidizing the Sunday paper. It’s a pity move, that’s for sure, and they don’t deserve it because the Trib has fired many excellent writers and editors (some of whom are good friends of mine) while protecting their middle-management ranks and dumbing down the paper tremendously.
But in Detroit, where my mom lives, they’ve stopped home delivery except three days a week. She told me sadly, earlier this year, “It’s awful lonely in the morning if the paper doesn’t come.” Maybe I’m still betting against a future like that for other places.