The New York Times, which announced plans to boost local coverage in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Chronicle may either cease publication entirely or shift to online-only mode, has announced that it will boost its coverage of local Chicago coverage.
You can read about the Times’ plan for San Fransisco here: Will Bay Area Residents Turn to the New York Times for Local News?
In picking Chicago, the Times is making an interesting selection. The Chicago Tribune is facing financial problems (if you want to get technical about it, the Trib’s in bankruptcy), but the Chicago Sun-Times seems to be doing okay.
Could it be because that’s the President’s home town? I think he’d read the Times anyway.
Could it be because Chicago was a contender for the 2016 Summer Olympics? Don’t think so.
Ok, I’m not sure why — though I’ve always liked Chicago.
But here’s what is interesting: The Times plans for its Chicago bureau to increase its local coverage, and then to “turn the production over to a local partner.” In other words, outsourcing content development to a local provider (the content to be distributed by the Times), which means the Times’ brand values.
Also, what’s not clear is how the Times will make its bet pay off. Even when advertising recovers, it’s not likely to reach pre-Great Recession levels. So if local Chicago advertisers won’t support it, you can’t count on new Chicagoland subscribers, too. They pay only a small portion of the freight.
So — a lot of questions about how and why the Times is going to be able to compete locally in other markets. During the ’70s recession, the Times famously doubled-down its bet, expanding coverage when everyone else cut back.
It will be interesting to see how this bet turns out.