The Wall Street Journal took a snarky shot at the Chicago Tribune Wednesday. It ran a full-page ad on page 8 of the obliging Sun-Times that consisted of “verbatim correspondence” to the Journal from a Coleen Davison of Chicago.

Said Ms. Davison, “We recently became WSJ subscribers, and I simply wanted to write and tell you how thrilled we are with your paper. The caliber and depth of your reporting is incredible and easily surpasses the Chicago Tribune, to which until recently we had been long-time subscribers.

“Our growing discontent with the Tribune’s diminishing quality became intolerable after their redesign last fall, and led us to explore other options. We settled on the WSJ after perusing several different newspapers…”

These other options presumably included the Sun-Times, which is in no position to do anything but bite its lip and take the Journal‘s money. 

But the Sun-Times was no more cooperative than the Tribune itself. Readers of the ad whose reaction was, “Surely the Tribune isn’t as bad as all that!” and turned to the morning Trib for reassurance found themselves staring at a whopping front-page profile of Linda Kollmeyer, the WGN-TV Lottery lady. “LUCK BE A LADY” said the headline to the edition’s most prominently placed story. Alongside it was a report on a tuition squabble at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. Other elements of the front page included a picture of Bono in Chicago and a headline “Monster trains are here / Get ready to rumble.”

Email I received from an unhappy camper called it “perhaps our must inane front page to date since the disastrous redesign of the paper.” 

I’d ask, when did the Tribune decide to become a third-rate tabloid? — but these days it is also a tabloid, and the front page of the tab version wasn’t quite as egregious. The slightly tweaked headline, “Monster trains are here / Are you ready to rumble?” (the “rumble” was in red letters) had replaced “LUCK BE A LADY” in the dominant position, while a small box now referred to the Linda Kollmeyer story back on page 30. Page 30 was about right — if we’re to concede that a puff piece about a Tribune Company personality had any business being in the paper at all.

UPDATE: For the back story to the Journal ad, here’s what I posted Thursday.