Bigger size marks ‘new beginning’ for Tribune’s suburban dailies

Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower

It’s a big day for more than 1.2 million print and digital followers of the six daily and 32 weekly suburban newspapers now under full control of the Chicago Tribune.

Readers of the six dailies will wake up Monday to discover that their papers have expanded from tabloid format to full-size broadsheet publications. And one of the six — the SouthtownStar — has reverted to its former name as the Daily Southtown.

Those are among the most visible changes as Tribune Publishing completes its takeover of the suburban properties formerly owned (and, by most accounts, run into the ground) by Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC. The two companies have been cooperating on the transition since the $23.5 million sale was finalized November 1.

In addition to the Daily Southtown, Monday’s conversion to the broadsheet format involves the Aurora Beacon-News, the Elgin Courier-News, the Naperville Sun, the Lake County News-Sun and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune.

Bob Fleck

Bob Fleck

“This is big for us, and it signifies a new beginning,” said Bob Fleck, publisher and general manager of Chicago Tribune Suburban Media. “We are fully committed to building on these brands and making them stronger and better where we think that’s possible.”

Fleck said the switch to broadsheet will enhance the editorial products and provide greater opportunities to sell national advertising throughout the network of Tribune newspapers.

Readers also may notice an increase in local news coverage under newly promoted Chicago Tribune managing editor Peter Kendall and deputy metro editor Phil Jurik. “The editorial team has put together a strategy of adding more news and information, emphasizing more in-depth coverage, and leveraging Tribune content that we know is engaging,” Fleck said. “ ‘Local first’ is the philosophy that they’re going with here.” All 38 newspapers will continue to evolve based on ongoing research and feedback from consumers, he said.

This week also marks the official launch of 50 new websites for the Tribune’s suburban properties, including the six dailies, the 32 Pioneer Press weeklies acquired in the Wrapports deal, and a dozen other TribLocal sites. In communities that were served by both Pioneer Press and TribLocal, the sites have been merged under the Pioneer Press title. Each site is now fully integrated onto the Tribune’s digital platform at

Daily SouthtownThe return of the Daily Southtown nameplate evokes memories of a better time at the once-robust paper. Founded in 1906 as the Englewood Economist, it was renamed the Southtown Economist in 1924 and then the Daily Southtown in 1993. Since its 2007 merger with The Star, a south suburban biweekly, it has been known as the SouthtownStar.

“We restored the name Daily Southtown because we felt that title connected most deeply with the communities we cover,” Fleck explained in a statement to readers. “The Daily Southtown nurtured a tradition of journalistic excellence, and we are eager to measure our new selves against that respected standard.”

Each edition of the dailies and weeklies this week will carry a letter from Fleck outlining the changes and inviting readers to provide comments and suggestions.

“We want people to get the paper on Monday and be pleasantly surprised,” said Maggie Wartik, general manager of TribLocal. “We think what we’ve done indicates quality and honors the excellence and the tradition of these products.”