If you picked up last week's issue, you probably noticed that things have changed quite a bit with your Chicago Reader. Reactions to our new content and design ranged from adoring to hesitant to . . . well, we'll get to that.
One of the many good things about putting out a weekly newspaper (or does the new glossy cover make it a magazine?) is that, hey, there's always next week to tweak, retry, and reimagine. And nurse our hangovers.
Of all the changes introduced last week, the two biggest were our introduction of dual glossy covers and, on the flip side, a new identity for the Reader's expanded music content. Most of you seemed quick to embrace Reader "B Side"—and the design in general. Commenter "lanyard" was gracious in his (or her) support: "Looks great. I'm in my sixth year as a Reader reader, and I appreciate you all more and more every year." Others, including "pvovr," seemed opposed to change, period. "I can't make sense out of the 'new' look you gave to this beloved READER. LA Weekly never changed its style nor reporting—and still remains successful. Neither should you."
For some, including "adude," the rewards were simpler. "So far, I have to say I'm a big fan of the staples!" That's just what we'd hoped a dude would think.
A lot of the #newreader chatter on Twitter focused on the Reader's front cover, which implored, "Wake up, Chicago. You've got a new mayor and City Council," followed in finer print by: "and a new Reader." Time Out Chicago editor in chief Frank Sennett (@SennettReport) quipped, "Which alderman is that on the cover of the #newreader?"
Frank: It's a barely touched up James Cappleman—though yours is a fair question, seeing as how Cappleman is a City Council rookie suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. (Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke described him in last week's City Council Guide as having a need to "find [a] political identity and stick with it." Apparently, a tattooed blond twentysomething ain't it.)
@Superanne was more direct in her reaction to Saverio Truglia's cover concept: "appalled by that cover image, but i am interested to see where it goes from here." In the slightly-less-forgiving-but-low-on- expectations department, longtime Reader contributor @LeeSandlin had this to say: "The new @Chicago_Reader isn't an atrocity, at least not compared to the last couple of redesigns, so it's really kind of a letdown." Thank you. Or ouch.
Over at the Chicago Tribune, media columnist Phil Rosenthal summed up the new Reader thusly: "The goal is to make the Reader seem less disposable, more indispensable and more distinct in a crowded media marketplace that includes Time Out Chicago, Newcity and Chicago Tribune's RedEye." And Chuck Sudo at Chicagoist viewed the changes as "a marked facelift from the tabloid format in which it's lingered in recent years. The glossy covers and stapled pages suggests more of a magazine than a newspaper."