In case you missed it in the past couple of weeks, all the carnage at the Tribune papers' desks appears traceable back to the modules the Trib is starting to roll out among all its papers.
PDFs of national, international and business pages have started rolling out of Chicago. In a bit of irony, as one memo notes, after all the redesign work done at some of the Trib papers to establish their local identity, they're being forced to run Trib typefaces.
Not surprising, all this. Members of the Suburban Newspaper Association returned from a trip to Scandanavia last year all a ga-ga over template-driven editing, also known as "layout-driven editing."(Here's more from a Canadian Newspaper Association story, and you can request a copy of the SNA report for free.)
Most interesting from that memo:
Templated newspaper -- Rather than the current, standard arrangement whereby the ad folks sell as many ads as they can and we fill in the newshole that's left, the paper is going to have a set ad layout depending on the day of the week, so in theory we would be able to plan a paper days or weeks ahead knowing exactly what it is going to look like.
Anyone told the ad boys and girls yet? Seems like that's a potentially serious crimp in their income.
Lest you be surprised, this has been evolving for more than a decade. There's a reason all those 10 a.m. editorial meetings started in the 1980 and '90s. It's called preplanning a much as possible. Accounting hates breaking news.
From Steve Yelvington at Morris: Read my lips: This is not a temporary maneuver in response to an economic cycle. This is permanent structural change.