Monday, April 18, 2005

Chicagoist: "'Red' survey a scam"

Eyes have been rolling all over Chicago this week over a recent survey from the University of Central Michigan, which claims that about half of all young Chicagoans find the city's two competing "young tabloids" (the Tribune's Red Eye and the Sun-Times' Red Streak) as having "high" or "medium" value as a news source in their lives. Local hipster guide, however, rightly points out that not only was the total sample size of the survey a measly 112 people, but that the vast, vast majority of them were journalism students, making the survey results...well, maybe a little less than indicative of the population as a whole. (And they forgot to mention, by the way, that both publications are free on college campuses, meaning that the people in this survey don't even pay for the papers they're reading.)

Why are people making such a big deal out of this? Because both Red Eye and Red Streak are patently offensive to anyone who considers themselves intelligent. Designed by a tableful of middle-aged suburban executives who (frankly) are exasperated by declining newspaper sales here in Chicago, both 'Red' tabloids are supposedly designed for "what young people really want from a newspaper" - or at least what a tableful of middle-aged suburban executives think young people really want from a newspaper. The results are so insulting and patronizing as to become a joke among those of us the papers are trying to target - one page of international news, one page of national news, three pages of local news, nine pages of sports and fourteen pages of fashion and entertainment (and not even good entertainment, either - none of the usually excellent articles from the Tribune's "Tempo" section, for example, are reprinted in Red Eye, merely an endless series of articles about Jessica Simpson taking a dump or whatever).

Hey, 'Reddies,' you really want to appeal to young people? Start by ditching these patronizing examples of just how much contempt you actually have for young people. People my age and younger haven't stopped buying your newspapers because they're "too challenging," or "are filled with yucky stuff we don't want to read about, like politics and international events." We're ditching you because you suck, and because it's a hell of a lot easier anymore to simply get the news we want from the internet. Your 'Red' publications are a joke, a pathetic joke to anyone who actually understands youth, and it's time that you people finally woke up and realized it yourselves.