Tribune gives Schmich star treatment with move upfront

Of all the perks of winning the Pulitzer Prize last spring, the most visible for Mary Schmich may be the new location of her column in the Chicago Tribune.

After two decades back in the paper somewhere, Schmich’s three-times-a-week column now is firmly anchored on Page 3 — in the same hallowed space occupied by another Pulitzer winner, Mike Royko, from 1984 until his death in 1997.

While it’s of no consequence to those who read the Tribune online or on mobile devices, location in the print edition remains an important measure of a columnist’s prominence and prestige. Some have been known to quit — or threaten to — over the move of their prose from one page to the next. Those with the most clout have even been known to negotiate page designation and placement right into their contracts.

The recent departure of reporter/editor Rob Manker, who had managed the content and production of Page 3 as a collection of features labeled The Talk, prompted a redesign of the page — and the decision to give Schmich’s column the prime real estate.

"I appreciate the move," she told me. "It allows me to write more than 600 words and to have some art with the column, which is nice — though the ascetic in me liked the discipline of usually keeping the column to 600 words and trying to make the words do the work without art."

(But editors are doing Schmich no favor by running a photo of her that’s half the size of John Kass’s giant mug on Page 2. There’s no reason for his logo to dwarf hers.)

I asked Schmich if she considered her new location permanent.

" ‘Permanent’ isn't a word I'd use for anything at the Tribune these days, given that we're likely to be bought at any moment,” she said. “But my column will appear regularly on Page 3 for as long as regular applies.”


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)