And it includes Chicago, where both local papers slashed staff and content, and where, to take advantage of the resulting void, The New York Times partnered with the Chicago News Cooperative, a young nonprofit run by the Tribune’s former managing editor, James O’Shea. The cooperative provides the Times with local coverage two days a week focused on city and state politics, policy, and culture. The Journal is considering similar metro coverage in Chicago as well as Los Angeles.

No matter the platform, what all these ventures have in common is that they’re betting on smart news that gives more to the people who want it, need it, and are willing to pay for it. It’s certainly not clear that smartening up the news will work. But it’s clear that dumbing it down will not.

Lisa Anderson is a 2009-2010 Encore Fellow at CJR. She was the the New York bureau chief and a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune until December 2008.