So we were righter than we knew when, apropos of Michael Nagrant's reviewing post at the Sun-Times apparently coming to an end, we said that the real way to look at the story was that it wasn't just about the Sun-Times, but about its parent company Wrapports choosing to put its focus on food at another of its properties, the Reader. Rumors floated and today were confirmed: Reader content is going to form the bulk of a new entertainment and dining section in the Sun-Times called "Agenda." Why, it's almost as if the alternative had grown up to become the mainstream!
In classic Reader fashion, the best source of information on the idea is a media column by Michael Miner picking it apart. The logic, according to Jim Kirk, editor in chief of Sun-Times Media, is that "Everybody knows the Reader's listings are the best in the city. As a company we see great value in that, and we want to make it bigger." Miner's concern is that "eventually the Sun-Times will influence what the Reader publishes even if no one wants that to happen... Anyone who still thinks of the Reader as an alternative to the dailies will have to strain hard to think it when some of the Reader shows up each week in one of them."
Perhaps, though the Reader's personality certainly seems to be in the favored position right now. We're more likely to miss the Sun-Times having a distinct personality of its own in this area, though Kirk stresses that there will be both Reader and Sun-Times writers covering the same subjects in some cases— "With the ability to have multiple voices, especially on big entertainment properties here, we now have a distinct advantage over our competitors." (Though apparently not multiple food reviewers.)
But these are, obviously, tough times for print publications, and we give the benefit of the doubt to any company like Wrapports which is experimenting and seems committed to finding a way to keep its print properties alive and profitable. The experiment will be conducted in public for all to see... each Friday in the Sun-Times.