Party On, Sun-Sentinel

Rejoice. The embattled Sun-Sentinel annual in-house award ceremony, the Pettijohns, will be held this year after all. The payments to the winners just have to be cleared by the bankruptcy court first, of course. Oh, and it won't be at the upscale Signature Grand this year, more likely at the humbler Museum of Art.  

Apparently Editor-in-Chief Earl Maucker has been having meetings with staffers at the Sun-Sentinel, going over the state of affairs at the newspaper. In a nutshell,  the paper is going to start running more content from the Chicago Tribune and the newspaper is going to start slashing everything that doesn't make money, starting with the the FIT section in Lifestyles.

The following report on one of the meetings just came across the Pulp's transom:

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We met with EIC Earl Maucker and some of the Deputy MEs to talk about what's going on within the company. Earl unveiled 3 initiatives that the paper will undergo in the near future:

1) More content sharing -- in addition to our current sharing agreement with the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post (each paper runs some stories from the other 2 every day), we're soon going to be taking ready-made A section modules from the Chicago Tribune. This will be mostly international and national content and will be in the identical typography and headline style that the Trib uses. Some astute observers pointed out the irony of running Chi Trib typefaces and layouts on some pages after going through such a lengthy and involved redesign process barely a year ago in an effort to establish our own unique style.

2) Templated newspaper -- Rather than the current, standard arrangement whereby the ad folks sell as many ads as they can and we fill in the newshole that's left, the paper is going to have a set ad layout depending on the day of the week, so in theory we would be able to plan a paper days or weeks ahead knowing exactly what it is going to look like.

3) Efficiencies -- or, as I prefer to call them, cutbacks. Basically, products that don't make money will be slashed or eliminated. First up is the highly popular FIT Section (the revamped Features section with some Fitness and Health stuff thrown in): Because the section doesn't generate revenue despite being highly read, as of next week it will go from its own section to 1-1/2 pages folded into the Sports section. Economic reality sucks.

Earl also stressed that the future is LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL, even moreso than we already are ... but we'll continue to produce "Centers of Excellence" such as Chauncey Mabe's Books page, which is currently exported to 4 other Tribune Co. papers.

On the bright side, it appears as if we won't resort to not printing and/or delivering on certain days, as some papers elsewhere in the country have done. The summer internship program has also been spared the ax; there were vicious rumors swirling about its demise, but Earl said the program is in budget and he just approved the first round of spending. He said, and I agree, that the internship program is probably more important now than ever given what's happening in the industry.

As for the annual Pettijohn awards, the show will go on but first the bankruptcy court needs to approve the cash payouts for winners since they're considered 'bonuses' and are restricted while a company is going through bankruptcy as our parent the Tribune Company is. Once the court gives the OK the show will be re-booked for sometime in March. It also won't be at the swanky Signature Grand, where it's held every year; more likely it will be at the Museum of Art around the corner from the main office.

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