The Chicago Reader got their hands on a secret advance copy of a new experiment from the Chicago Tribune: A special, Sunday-only edition called Five Star that is supposed to focus on "long, thoughtful reporting and commentary."
I've obtained a partial copy of a dummy. Five Star consists of four sections printed on heavy, expensive stock. They're called the A Section, Culture, Focus, and Words, and the first three—all but the tabloid literary section—are broadsheets, roughly 13 by 23 inches. That was a pretty standard size in the day when newspapers were newspapers, but it's zaftig by current standards, two inches wider than the present Tribune, which was narrowed by half an inch in 2007 and another inch in February. The dummy's 56 pages in all, with a coffee-table heft that sends a message: read me or don't, but your home will feel tonier for having me in it.
If they go through with this, it's a great idea. (Though The Reader's question—why doesn't The Tribune just do this with their regular Sunday edition?—is a good one.) It sounds at least partially inspired by McSweeney's newspaper project from last year. For some reason, Five Star doesn't have any ads—which I think is a mistake; people are willing to pay for print content with ads as long as the content is good—and the focus is supposed to be extremely local. I hope they eventually bring in a nation section if they go through with this; I would love to see the country embrace a second good Sunday paper. Maybe then, newspaper publishers would realize that they've been doing it wrong for the last couple decades, and what readers want is smart, lengthy content with plenty of analysis.