The Awl has an excellent story about what is going on at the Sun Times... And I am going to offer my thoughts about what is going on.
First, assuming the design isn't terrible, content always beats design.
Secondly, old media trying trying to imitate new media is asinine. It's a bit like me using the words bae and acting like I know who Fetty Wap is.
Third, one of the things that made the Sun Times, well the Sun Times was the unique investigative reporting. Think The Mirage, man that was good reporting and a hell of a good story.
People say no one wants to pay for content, that's not true, people don't want to pay for content that they can for the most part get someplace else.