Dec 31, 201209:05 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

The Times-Picayune Fiasco: And Now a Roundtable

Last month, The Times-Picayune announced that its Publisher Ricky Mathews had convened a new group called “The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com Roundtable.”

 

Fourteen citizens covering the usual range of diversity were selected for the group, including the venerable Norman Francis who last year was one of the citizens urging the Newhouses to sell.    

 

In the accompanying, unsigned article, it was said with much ballyhoo that, “the diverse voices of our community will help guide us. Your voices. In letters to the editor, in online comments to articles and editorials, in conversations with our writers, we are eager to hear from you.”

 

Hey Ricky, if you really care what the citizens are saying you should have been listening since last summer. They hate what has been done to the newspaper and they are not buying the changes.

 

As for the Roundtable, all respected citizens, we have one plea: Don’t let them use you for propaganda purposes. What the Newhouses have done to our area hurts. Don’t let them exploit your good name.

 

We begin this week our first full year in modern times without a locally published daily newspaper, all because someone in New York misjudged modern times.

 

As predicted, locals do not like what the Newhouses have done to The Times-Picayune. Three times a week does not work. By the time the Wednesday papers come out, it is filled with stale news already reported elsewhere plus the paper is too bulky for weekday morning quick reads. The same goes for Fridays and not having a paper either on Monday, right after the weekend, or Saturday, at the beginning of the weekend, are big losses. Only the Sunday paper makes sense pretty much because it looks like what it was before.

 

Meanwhile, if the Newhouses thought that gutting the T-P would trigger a rush to their website that, at least according to the people I talk to, is not happening. Sure some people go to NOLA.com, but, depending on the story, there are other alternatives including the television stations and national websites. Through the genius of the Newhouses, they sacrificed the one area where they had a respected, even beloved, monopoly, gutted it and entered a world where there is lots of competition.

 

There are still many good people working for The Times-Picayune and the newspaper is capable of producing good work, but the overall quality is not the same.

 

Hey Roundtable, we need facts and not propaganda, and the fact is that New Orleans needs its own daily newspaper.

-30-

 

Reader Comments:
Dec 31, 2012 10:02 am
 Posted by  111257

I agree and well said. At the very least, when Mr. Benson buys the t-p we'll once again have a solid community paper we can count on and a local icon that will remain with us for a number of years. It's too bad the Newhouses did not seriously consider his offer in the first place. They could have at least gotten top dollar for a product this community has revered for decades. One thing I'll admit, Mr. Benson will offer them a fair price.

Dec 31, 2012 12:24 pm
 Posted by  jlrob

Well said. My husband and I stopped our subscription to the Times-Picayune, because we have the same issues. Stale news, too bulky and dense to get through properly on the few days we receive it. Plus we do NOT want to subscribe to the TP and give the Newhouses any support that leads them to the false conclusion that we support the changes to the paper! We support the amazing news writers and other personnel, not the Newhouses. They've gutted an excellent local paper for no good reason.

Dec 31, 2012 01:11 pm
 Posted by  jbell

After canceling my subscription the T-P continued to throw their paper in my driveway. I called several times to have them stop, but then was informed by a former staff member the paper sells adds based on the number of deliveries. After finally getting them to stop, they continued to throw the Gretna Picayune, which is nothing bur advertiesments and very little news of any worth. An angry trip to their West Bank office finally convinced them to stop their scam.

Dec 31, 2012 01:17 pm
 Posted by  TwinkleNettie

I am absolutely baffled that my favorite American city does not have a daily newspaper! Even in Utah, we have not 1 but 2 dailies (Salt Lake Tribune & The Deseret News). How is it even possible that a city of such size and diversity cannot support a daily paper? It is utterly ridiculous and simply shows how the Newhouse group understands virtually NOTHING about this form of media. I will continue to get my NOLA info via other sources....none of which are owned and/or operated by the Newhouse idiocy.

Dec 31, 2012 04:20 pm
 Posted by  uptownoncamp

Your link to the "accompanying unsigned article" unexpectedly sent me to nola.com, something I have avoided doing for months now, just to make a point. I subscribed to the Advocate when they first announced adapting and distributing to the New Orleans area. I have been waiting for the delivery snafus to settle down with The Advocate before subscribing more permanently than month to month. Meanwhile, for the same reason, I have hesitated to cancel my forty+ years' subscription to the Times Picayune.
As much as I agree with Errol's views on the failure of the Picayune's publishing philosophy, I must say, reading the Advocate is not nearly what I had hoped it to be. I find the writing is generally good, and I like reading more news from the Capital City and the rest of the state. They even seem to have a better handle on the business news of New Orleans than the T-P has. They really seem to be trying hard.
That said, I find reading The Advocate deeply unsatisfying. Perhaps it's my comfortable familiarity with the Picayune writers, or maybe it's the typography and superior layout qualities of the Picayune: I'm not sure, but something has caused me to hesitate in cancelling my T-P subscription.
As angry as I've been with the Times Picayune, it's like with the Saints: if they would mend their ways, all could be forgiven. Perhaps this diverse roundtable will do the right thing and recommend a full, daily paper from the Picayune. If they succeeded in that, I would quit my current irrational feeling of disloyalty to the city and forget my momentary dalliance with the slightly alien Baton Rouge interloper.
Until then, when I step out on my porch at six each morning, I will have to continue to guess what day it is for the Picayune, and peer down the street and wonder if the Advocate will be delivered today. At least, what's become the common denominator, the Wall Street Journal, is always at my doorstep.

Dec 31, 2012 05:04 pm
 Posted by  Wistful thinking

If these community leaders had any integrity, they would refuse to participate in Ricky Matthews' blatant, sycophantic attempt to infiltrate himself into New Orleans business leadership. Hopefully, the scions of New Orleans will see through this transparent hypocrisy.

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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

about

Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.

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