The idea of turning a small part of your section fronts into premium advertising space is all the rage these days, with the Wall Street Journal and now the Chicago Tribune sending up the trial ballons. (Latest Trib story via Media Info Center.)
This really isn't particularly new stuff. I remember my grandpa sitting down with the evening paper and there, at the bottom of A1, would be those small classified ads. So the question has always been not what we are -- just what's the price.
But the stakes have risen in a panicked industry. Tribune Publisher and CEO David Hiller puts it starkly: "At some point you have to ask yourself if it's better to have an ad on a section front, or would it be better to do away with the section?" Hiller said. "The choices are that real."
Maybe I should take some solace in his reassurance that A1 isn't for sale (yet?).
After all, look what can happen. Look at the main story from this 2004 paper, then look at the bottom ad. Hmmmmm ...