the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.1

After writing about the failure of newspapers to be funny anymore (inspired by Michael Miner’s thoughts), another thing that newspapers aren’t good at anymore occured to me: blood ‘n’ guts. Didn’t newspapers used to account for the seamy underbelly of the city? Wouldn’t you like to read more about the seamy underbelly? I would!

I don’t know why, either. My cynical, unverifiable theory is that newspapers are increasingly written for advertisers instead of readers. And no advertiser wants to be on the page about someone getting murdered.

(But that seems shortsighted–consumerism is clearly a bulwark against mortality. What sensible advertiser wouldn’t want to be next to a memento mori? What suburban realtor, in this housing market, would not want to be next to the city crime blotter? Think inside the dark, claustrophobic box, people.)

Anyway, the Tribune is moving to tabloids in format, but not in content. I think there should be a free tabloid sister paper to RedEye. Called, I dunno, Corruption and Tragedy Daily or just MayHem. Bring back the spirit of Weegee.

For instance, the cover of RedEye today is about what businesses to call if you have lots of money but don’t want to go out in the cold to buy stuff. Memo: we’re all in the cold this year. This is not your growth audience. I am an unfriendly elitist and an incorrigble snob but my base interests and needs as a reader are just as fixed as the next person’s.

PS Recommended: Charlie LeDuff in the Detroit News (back in the Midwest when he is most needed, his profile of reclusive billionaire Matty Moroun is a must-read), Calvin Trillin’s anthology Killings (see also).

Update Almost forgot, the best new blog of 2008 was Steven Hirsch’s Courthouse Confessions.

1. My favorite poem.