Aug 26, 201309:21 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
The Times-Picayune Fiasco: The Advocate Makes Its Move
If irony were a king cake you could have searched for the baby last Thursday night during Channel 4’s 10 p.m. news when reporter Mike Hoss interviewed Bruce Nolan, a former reporter for The Times-Picayune. Nolan, an articulate and thoughtful journalist who covered the religious beat for the former daily, was on to critique the Katrina exhibit at the new George W. Bush library. (He didn’t like it.) It was an interesting discussion but the real story was Nolan himself who was there representing the newly re-branded Advocate. The interview was part of a segment promoting Nolan’s coverage of the library in Sunday's edition of The Advocate. It was promoted as part of WWL’s working agreement with the newspaper.
Back, over a year ago now, when the whole T-P downsizing issue started, it was Nolan who made the famous newsroom “this doesn’t feel like the old Times-Picayune" speech that drew the applause of the staff members there and went viral on the internet. Now he is among the many former T-P staff members either working part-time of full-time for The Advocate. Last week David Hammer, another T-P alumnus who now works for WWL, saw his byline again, this time in The Advocate as it ran a print version of his Ch. 4 story about contractor fraud.
In all, it was the biggest week since The Advocate entered the New Orleans market. The previous Sunday the newspaper unveiled its new look, new logo and new name; no longer the New Orleans edition of The Advocate as it is now The New Orleans Advocate, a move of strategic importance. Departments were also renamed including a defined Metro section. Nell Nolan’s (no relation to Bruce) social coverage also made its debut during the week. After nearly 11 months the city finally had a clearly defined daily newspaper it could call its own.
For newsaholics and industry watchers it was a momentous week in the history of local newspapers. How it plays with the less obsessed remains to be seen. People are sometimes slow to react to change.
What is clear about change is that there has been plenty of it. Several weeks ago Steve Newhouse told The Baton Rouge Business Report that he is “pleased” with the thrice-weekly transition of his family’s newspaper to date. What exactly pleases him about a move that has practically no public enthusiasm remains baffling. I wonder if he has noticed that no one is cheering.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is due to be released in late September. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12.