‘you had enough money to do four website redesigns that you didn’t want’


This is why I yell so much.


The Sun-Times’ website has undergone four redesigns in the last two years (and one very talked-up political redesign), each less popular with the newsroom than the last. “[When theSun-Times site] changed over from the newest of the redesigns to what it is now, to match the Network site, there was a lot of displeasure in the newsroom about that,” a former longtime Sun-Times staffer said. “I think a lot of employees were confused as to why so much time, and I assume money, to do three or four website redesigns, only to scrap the whole thing and go with this national Network, and then be told we don’t have any money. Well, you had enough money to do four website redesigns that you didn’t want, but you’re laying off employees. The money was just spent in a different place.”

That’s it. That’s the everything, right there.

The money was just spent in a different place.

A place, mind you, where the details weren’t attended to, and apparently nobody who knew what the Internet was was consulted:


The author of the Awl piece is a person who was fired for being too much of a tool for the news organization that tolerated Jay Mariotti, so maybe not the BEST source, but the Sun-Times is the paper that endorsed a political candidate who threatened one of their reporters. In a slapfight between two drunken bears falling down a hill, I will take the one that doesn’t smell bad.

In September 2012, the Sun-Times launched Splash, a glossy entertainment brainchild of Ferro’s, headed by a former PR executive. It hired as columnists such luminaries as Jenny McCarthy, who wrote a column claiming that she had never been “anti-vaccine” after using her celebrity to espouse anti-vaccine views for years; Lupe Fiasco, who was paid a thousand dollars for a sub-three-hundred-word column about how his father once said he could put all of Chicago’s skyscrapers together into a big robot; and possibly the most-hated man in Chicago, Jim Belushi. Of Splash, which is still around, a former Sun-Times employee told me, “There was still hope in the newsroom that well, not everything he’s done has been a bust.”

Four months after Splash, the Sun-Times launched Grid, a Sunday business magazine and vertical on the website seemingly targeted at young people; its content was short and bloggy.Sun-Times editor-in-chief Jim Kirk, who had been the business editor at the Tribune, informed longtime business reporter (and union negotiator) David Roeder, along with the paper’s two other business reporters, that they would now be working at Grid, and as a result, losing their union status. Ferro’s original name for Grid was Plaid, a name he was convinced was “hip,” before lieutenants convinced him otherwise.


See, this is why I think the Internet vs. print is the wrong argument to have. If this was scratched on clay tablets it would still be fucking insane. What are you doing? What are you for? What are you about? What are your readers going to get from you if they pick you up or click on you? If you don’t know the answer to those questions, about who you are and what you want, then you can flail and chase trends and be embarrassing “cool dad” trying to go to your high school age son’s parties all you want. People aren’t even laughing at you. They’re confused and frightened.

Wrapports seems to be running out of options. Ken Doctor speculated to the Tribune that the Sun-Times is “winding itself down as a paper,” even though this is where almost all of the revenue comes from. Additionally, the only newspaper Wrapports owns that makes money is the Reader, the once-legendary alternative weekly that, too, has been slashed and burned. It has largely shifted longer features to web* from the print paper, making it little more than a glorified events calendar with a few columns, two of them syndicated.

WHY WOULD YOU TAKE THE THING THAT MAKES YOU MONEY, AND FUCK IT UP? WHY? IN WHAT BUSINESS IS THIS OKAY? What are they teaching in asshole school? Isn’t anyone embarrassed by this? At a certain point when you introduce yourself at the asshole school’s alumni reunion, and mention what you do, doesn’t someone come up to you and ask if you have a portrait in your attic or a secret lab in your basement? Doesn’t it all start to smell, after a while, being a total garbage disaster? I’m presuming self-awareness here, but come on, everybody’s gotta come to Jesus sometime.

I dearly hope, anyway. You know, I will never understand doing this on purpose. An economic collapse, a competitor blowing you out of the water, something happens and you fail, okay. But this is madness.


3 thoughts on “‘you had enough money to do four website redesigns that you didn’t want’

  1. Ha! The Newhouse Idiots did the same thing with the Times-Picayune. Took a paper that was making money and fucked it to hell and back. They’ve turned their staff and their website into Buzzfeed click-bait.

  2. I got notice Friday from Madison Newspapers that my subscription rate was going up again (second time in two years! It’s now up to around the same rate for only the State Urinal that I paid for two papers 10 years ago).. for fewer pages, fewer local writers (and, naturally, less local content), and an unusable website. Goody.

  3. I mean, to be fair, this is also assuming that they actually paid their web designers four times and didn’t have four different interns redesign their site “for exposure”.

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