Absolutely everybody outraged about the disappearing 'Times-Picayune'
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It's day two of the downfall of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which, to the consternation of just about everyone in the news industry, is preparing to slash its staff, reduce its publication schedule to three days a week, and reorient its editorial and business model around digital. (Similar changes have also been announced at three sister papers in Alabama.)
So much to read. Where to begin?
Today's A1 New York Times piece is a good starting point.
David Carr, who broke the initial story, and fellow Times media reporter Christine Haughney landed an interview with Steven Newhouse, chairman of the Internet arm of the Times-Picayune's parent company, Advance Publications. He quashed talk that he might reconsider or sell the paper to an investor group.
“We did not make these changes out of desperation — we have a very strong operation in New Orleans — but we face tremendous challenges in terms of both revenue and the 24 hour news cycle,” said Newhouse. “We needed to make a plan for the long-term and not sit still for a spiral of losses and cutbacks.”
NY1's Bob Hardt wrote an open letter to Newhouse, pleading:
"Simply put: by ceasing operation of the daily paper, you are comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. Corrupt politicians should be celebrating on Bourbon Street tonight, knowing there will be whole days of the week where no newspaper will appear, probing their misdeeds. And don't claim that some web edition will adequately replace the daily paper; that's like telling a man who is getting his arm amputated that he'll still be able to clap."
"Wire" and "Treme" creator David Simon, who is a conoisseur of New Orleans digital media, had this to say on the Columbia Journalism Review's website, CJR.org:
"Once the content of the larger papers is no longer available to aggregators, then regional papers can safely take that same path and, maybe, there is an online revenue stream that will allow high-end journalism to survive."
(Two years ago he talked at some length to our own Josh Benson about the "doomed relationship" between cities and their newsrooms, which you can read here.)
Local investigative news site The Lens reprints an earlier look at the particular situation of New Orleans and the "digital divide," which is relevant to what the decision will mean:
The New Orleans data show that wealthy, white Uptown New Orleans has subscription rates of between 80 and 100 percent, and suburban areas such as Metairie and Belle Chasse are similarly well served. Meanwhile poorer, more African American areas such as the Lower 9th Ward have broadband subscription rates of between 0 and 40 percent.
Poynter's Steve Meyers takes a look at whether New Orleanians will "follow the Times-Picayune online after it cuts back in print."
Gawker's Hamilton Nolan serves up a dose of harsh reality: "With the Times-Picayune, we have reached the perfectly logical evolutionary step of a major city that does not have a print newspaper published every day. Next will be a major city that does not have a print newspaper published any day. This will not be too far away."
Above, a photo of a sign being posted in New Orleans.
Still not feeling totally bummed out? Take a look at the photo at the top of this page from yesterday's Times-Picayune staff meeting, via Jim Romenesko, who also has lots more links for you to sift through.
And lots more links here, at a Facebook page called "Save the Picayune."
In other news...
Did police go after an Albany spa because they were angry with the owner's husband, Times Union investigations editor J. Robert Port? [The New York Times]
NBCU reportedly wants to buy back MSNBC.com. [Adweek]
Farhad Manjoo writes about how Business Insider is killing it on the Facebook IPO story. [Slate]
14 questions for David Carr. [Talking Points Memo]
Updates to The New York Times iPhone/iPad apps. [Nieman Journalism Lab]
The covers war goes high-brown with Ryan McGinley's naked hipster/ferocious animal motif for Harper's. [The New York Observer]
The Hamptons media scene is thriving. [New York Post]
From our inbox...
In next week's New York magazine:
When New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. fired his CEO, Janet Robinson, in December, it marked a sudden end to what had been a hand-in-glove partnership. New York contributing editor Joe Hagan has spoken with more than 30 people who are intimately familiar with different aspects of the Times’ business, to find out what was behind Robinson’s ouster. “Even as a new pay wall was erected on the Times website last spring to charge customers for access, the company’s performance, including an alarming dive in print advertising when other media companies were beginning to recover, was faltering, and Sulzberger was under pressure both financial and familial to throw Robinson overboard,” writes Hagan.