Staffers at The Times-Picayune are still reeling from a series of news reports that began Wednesday night with a breaking New York Times story on the drastically scaled back future of the Pulitzer-winning paper — and ended with New Orleans’ only daily newspaper confirming Thursday that it will publish its print edition only three days a week starting this fall.

According to The Times-Picayune’s own announcement, the scaling back of the print edition will be coupled with increased online presence on its website,
NOLA Media Group will significantly increase its online news-gathering efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week. The newspaper will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. A second new company, Advance Central Services, will print and deliver the newspaper. Both of the new companies are owned by Advance Publications.

The decision to form a new company signals a change in the way news is delivered to an increasingly wired New Orleans area audience, said Mathews. Jim Amoss, currently editor of The Times-Picayune, will run the combined content operation of NOLA Media Group.
Gambit’s Kevin Allman notes that the New York Times story, which preceded the memo sent to T-P staffers, “comes after a tumultuous week in the T-P newsroom, which began after incoming publisher Ricky Mathews came to New Orleans last week and held meetings with some — but not all — Times-Picayune executives off the building’s premises:”
Multiple sources have told Gambit that editor Jim Amoss and city editor Gordon Russell were in the meetings, as were sports editor Doug Tatum and features editor Mark Lorando. Managing editors Peter Kovacs and Dan Shea, the No. 2 lieutenants to Amoss, were excluded.

A Gambit source whose timeline of the reductions dovetails closely with [David] Carr’s report said in an email earlier this week that it was expected “the staff will immediately be whacked by at least a third (from 150 to 100 or fewer reporters). Top brass will be fired and reporters who remain aboard will take sharp salary cuts and be expected to start blogging through the day [for affiliated website].”
The Times-Picayune was among the major metro daily newspapers that managed to avoid the major industry slashing experienced by many other newspapers, a feat The Times attributes to the paper’s “critical role in the coverage of Katrina and its aftermath,” which garnered two Pulitzer prizes in 2006:
Newhouse Newspapers, which owns the Times-Picayune, will apparently be working off a blueprint the company used in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it reduced the frequency of the Ann Arbor News, emphasized the Web site as a primary distributor of news and in the process instituted wholesale layoffs to cut costs.

Later in the day, three Alabama papers were similarly restructured: The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and the Press-Register of Mobile. They will become part of the newly formed Alabama Media Group and will also print only three days a week. The announcement of the changes said there would a reduction in the workforce, but did not specify details.

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