The transition to web-based news continues to divorce journalists from their paychecks. The Times-Picayune is just the latest example. By Walter Pierce
“Saddle up the dinosaurs, we’re riding to Chernobyl!”
The depressing chime of the death knell for daily newspapers — with an emphasis on paper — took on a shriller, more fretful tone last week when the venerable Times-Picayune, the Pulitzer-winning daily that has been the dominant source of news in the Crescent City for more than a century, announced it will cut its circulation down to three days this fall and focus its energy and resources on digital news.
By year’s end a paper version of the Times-Pic will be available only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No more Monday recaps of Saints games in print. And let’s imagine the frantic raids on recycling bins next crawfish season in the metro area. Can you even have a crawfish boil and not cover the table with newspaper?
It also means that tens of thousands of New Orleanians who were habituated to life’s daily pulse in the 20th century — folks over 50, let’s say — will have to make a wrenching transition to this new(s) reality. And unfortunately the T-P’s brave new world will not be realized without layoffs, likely significant layoffs.
Like the Titanic’s band, the paper’s editors played as lively a tune as possible when they announced the changes last Thursday, citing the company’s incoming president: “[T]he need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will result in a reduction in the size of the workforce.”
Gannett, parent company of The Daily Advertiser, is no stranger to reallocating resources. Just ask the hundreds nationally and dozens locally laid off over the last few years as the media behemoth adjusts to the digital age. Gannett, too, is repositioning itself to focus on digital delivery. Fortunately our local daily will remain daily, at least for now.
Citing sources, New Orleans weekly Gambit reported that the T-P newsroom staff will likely be reduced by a third, and those employees learned of their march to the guillotine from a New York Times article that broke online at 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday. The Times-Pic brass announced the changes hours later after its hand was forced, and Gambit further reported that only a select number of management personnel were privy to the downsizing before it was announced.
The knell signaling the end of daily newspapers as we know them has been ringing for at least a decade, and newspapers themselves share the blame for their precipitously declining health. When the World Wide Web became a necessary application of news gathering, most papers made their locally generated content free on their newfangled websites. How could they not? In cities with two competing dailies — what a relic of the 20th century! — if you didn’t make your content free and your competitor did, you were at a significant disadvantage.
The Pandora’s Box had already been pried open in 1999 when America Online convinced the Associated Press to sell its stories to AOL, which provided AP news from around the world to AOL subscribers. For free. The AP is essentially a resource-sharing operation of which virtually all daily newspapers are members. The Daily Advertiser is an AP paper, as are The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, so their stories are fed into the AP machine daily just like everyone else’s. By 2000, subscribers to AOL, CompuServe and other Internet providers could get AP content including, often, stories from their own daily newspapers for free. Once the dailies started rolling out their own websites a couple of years later, anyone with a computer and modem could get daily journalism — an expensive, time-consuming and critical-to-democracy enterprise — pumped into their homes free of charge. What was the news consumer’s incentive to buy a print copy after that? Circulation of print dailies began to plummet, and the incentive for advertisers to invest in print declined with it.
Of course, Katrina delivered a swoon-inducing blow to the T-P, flushing thousands of subscribers from the city. But the die had already been cast. Newspapers were on a collision course with a future that doesn’t give a damn about nostalgia, especially the quaint news-reading habits of a bygone era.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
Three bedroom Acadian or a two bedroom town home
Ready to geaux in purple and gold
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
The recently established Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association will host a special viewing of the upcoming New Orleans Saints taking on the Carolina Panthers in the open air of Parc Sans Souci on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Belief in a national outbreak of the Ebola zombie virus is becoming more of a threat every day, and The Hayride — Louisiana’s one true bastion for unrelentingly conservative political commentaries — thought it wise to share a certain special someone's “important message” with readers Tuesday on what to do when, not if, it comes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
JPMorgan Chase is giving $1 million to Louisiana's community and technical colleges, to help with workforce training efforts to match students to available jobs.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising.
Three bedroom cottage or three bedroom ranch
Sheer lace perfection
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.