The Little Red Paper That Could
By Alicia Dorr in News on Sep 5, 2006 8:32PM
Maybe it's the drink specials in Metromix, or that one "Boy on Boystown" column. Perhaps it's the full page ads and the fact they get stories for free from their parent newspaper. Who knows how or why, but the Red Eye is apparently going to turn a profit for the Tribune company by the end of the year.
That's right - Tribune Co. will increase the tabloid's circulation by 50%, from 100,000 to 150,000, and add 1,000 more distribution boxes. We all know the Red Eye beat out its sickly Sun-Times cousin, the Red Streak, and we know that the now-free paper used to cost 25 cents.
But here's where we'll enter the land of speculation. We're pretty certain that there are a lot of people that like the newspaper because it provides quick bites of the days' news while standing or sitting on a cramped train. We aren't certain, however, that the increase in copies is actually necessary. It's one thing to acknowledge that the paper does a great job with ad revenue and all that, but we're not positive all those papers are actually being, well, read. Sure, we see them in unopened stacks by noon next to major train stations, but do people really scoop all those up by the end of the day?
According to a poll late last year, the rag has a readership of 200,000, and it reaches at least 600,000 Chicagoans a day. But does the latter figure count when we accidentally sit down on one that was on the seat? We hate to be such sticklers for facts and to be so hard on the little paper that could, but, well, it's sort of our thing. There is one thing we're pretty sure about in all this, though, especially with this news - tabloids like the Red Eye are probably a new standard. And as much as we cringe at the egregious copy editing errors in it, we'll probably keep picking it up now and then, too. Oh, well.