Editor & Publisher obtained a “work-in-progress” redesign of the Chicago Tribune, or more accurately the Trib, or perhaps more accurately still the Chicago Tribune trib. With fewer reporters, you have more space to make words bigger.

It might sound silly, perhaps, but the Chicago Tribune Trib was, once, an innovator in the reduction of the written English language to its most essential bits, as pioneered by Col. McCormick (aka M’Cormik). If the Trib should need a commandant of simplified spelling in the service of reducing page count, I am happy to send reminder e-mails to Howard Reich insisting that he spell it “jaz.”

Update: Michael Miner has a sensible theory: “My guess is that whoever leaked this page-one prototype was hoping to head off disaster, and I pray he or she succeeds.”

Update II: Thinking about it a little more sensibly, other than the GIANT FLAG:

1. The dateline looks nice, but I don’t see the purpose of making it the topmost design element. I’d do at-a-glance indicators which would rotate–the Cubs’ magic number, Obama vs. McCain polls of significance, Ben Gordon’s shooting percentage, stock prices, Nielsens for whatever show Maureen Ryan’s writing about (w/ jump), etc.

2. The F1 looks good. I like open layouts, and the little Obama is a wry choice. It’s a bit of a risk putting only one story above the fold, but here it’s handled well.

3. I don’t get the move to show pictures of journalists. Most of them aren’t interesting to look at. Maybe I’m just trying to preserve a future for myself in journalism and I don’t want pictures of me on the front page of my publication, or anywhere. It’s a phobia.