Dude, Where's My News?

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If you're like me — between 18 and 34 years old — market research says you may not have a long enough attention span to finish this sentence. Print media are bleeding young readers, which has prompted publications — Maxim, Blender, FHM — to offer bite-size stories, so that as little text as possible gets between us and the ads. As of last week, the young and content — averse of Chicago have two daily tabloids to skim. RedEye, owned by the city's patrician daily the Tribune, was announced first; Red Streak, from the Sun-Times, was rushed out to play catch-up. Red Streak, which included an article on how to cheat a drug test, is the bawdier of the two. But both tabloids — sold for 25 at gyms, bars, restaurants and el stops — feature brief pieces on news (a little), sports (a lot) and celebrity skin (never enough). Many headlines seem to correspond to bullet points in a marketing memo: 11 THINGS TO KNOW (young people like lists!); NICOR'S PRICE GOOF WORTH $7 TO YOU (young people want the "me" angle!).

The tabs are meant to be training wheels until readers are ready for the big-people papers. But they could be a training experience for the flagships, which may someday have to run Page One articles the size of movie tickets if they want to keep those readers. Until then, the tabs provide a service: they're plenty big enough to hide a Game Boy inside.