“Even if I hadn’t been a Tribune foreign correspondent for six years, I would still admire how the place always punched above its weight simply because it believed in quality for the sake of it.”

That’s Evan Osnos, now writing online for the New Yorker, commenting on the Chicago Tribune’s decision to pretty much roll up the foreign service. “Five years ago,” he tells us with a palpable sigh, “the paper had eleven foreign correspondents living around the world, not counting a well-stocked Baghdad operation which some heroic editors paid for by scraping and juggling cash from other parts of the paper, long after news organizations of comparable size had packed up and gone home.”

Word that the foreign service was being dismantled came to Osnos in Beijing, where he’d shut down the Tribune bureau last fall. He happened to find himself talking Wednesday to a local accountant who was attending to the final details of the closing. She’d done some research. “Did you know,” she asked, “[the Tribune] was here all the way back in the 1930s? That it reported on the Nanjing Massacre and the Anti-Japanese War?”

Osnos did know. He also knew, from a focus group he’d sat in on a few years ago, that a lot of Tribune readers didn’t give a damn about coverage of that kind of far-off stuff.