Aug 27, 201209:26 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
The Times-Picayune Fiasco: Newhouses Deny Saturdays; The Advocate Announces a Plan
I enjoyed my Saturday Times-Picayune this past week. There was the story about Galatoire’s expanding, political intrigue in the District E council race, real estate transactions and the lowdown on that night’s Saints game. Saturday editions have always been especially popular with me. They tend to be heavier on politics and on sports, plus they can be perused without having to watch the clock for going to work.
As I read though, I was reminded about the harsh reality: A month from now there will not be a Saturday Times-Picayune. That is one of the four daily editions that the Newhouses have decided that we don’t need. Ask Steve Newhouse, or his shipped-in enforcer, Ricky Matthews, and they will probably say that a month from now we can simply get that information at Nola.com. No, not necessarily. There’s too much competition on the web. I can go to the websites of the television stations, other print media and the new non-profits. The visionary Newhouses have compromised the news medium in which they were a monopoly, a daily newspaper, for the sake of another medium, the web, in which there is already plenty activity. From the perspective of i-things, all mediums, including former daily newspapers, look and feel alike. I will be among the many who will want the look and feel of a newspaper especially for my Saturday morning ritual, so, beginning next month, I will be reading The Advocate.
What has become evident is two publishing families with two different business models for Southeast Louisiana. For the Newhouses, it is slash and burn and dazzle with digital. For the Manships, who own the Advocates, it is print expansion into the Northshore, Lafayette and New Orleans. Which family would you think might have the most commitment to our area?
To date, there has been little heard from the Manships about their plans. This week, however, in response to last week’s blog, I heard from Advocate Publisher David Manship who provided some information. Beginning by saying, “I hope we are able to give daily newspaper readers in the N.O. area a product that they will enjoy and look forward to reading,” Manship announced the following:
• We are going to start giving papers away at stores, coffee shops and on street corners on Sept. 24th and will do so until October.
• (As of Oct. 1) we will start home delivery in most zip codes and also have 400 plus single sales outlets and racks around the New Orleans area including some on the North Shore.
•We are still working hard so that we can offer as many people as possible an opportunity to read the Daily New Orleans Edition of The Advocate.
Note to Steve Newhouse: Hey Steve, there is still plenty of noise being made down here, and I suspect it will get louder in the weeks to come. I just hope for quietness when I read my Saturday newspaper.