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Feb 25, 201309:44 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

The Times-Picayune Fiasco: Hey Ricky, Print Isn’t So Bad

Speaking before a conference of publishing officials in New Orleans recently, Ricky Mathews, the Newhouses’ publisher of The Times-Picayune, had this to say about moving the newspaper's reporting staff to Canal Place from the former T-P facility, according to a report in the newsletter of the Poynter Institute:


“We felt like the physical move was extremely important,” Mathews said. “We wanted to change a culture and move away from the print-centric culture.”


Huh? Moving from a “print-centric culture!”


Hey Ricky, a print-centric culture hasn’t been so bad. That’s how the Guttenberg bible was distributed; how American colonialists first read about the Declaration of Independence; how the Allied Victory in Europe was announced; how a vaccine for polio became known; how the Watergate scandal was uncovered; how The Times-Picayune won its Pulitzers; how we along the Gulf Coast received much of our recovery information. Even when we already knew the outcome, The Times-Picayune headline that said simply “Amen” immortalized the Saints' Super Bowl win.


People have died in wars so that other people can live in a print-centric world where the press is free. Print-centric is an ideal, not a dirty world.


We know, the idea is supposed to be that digital has replaced all that, but for all the dazzle of digital, there is a sense of obligation that comes with reading a printed newspaper, a sense that does not come from scrolling along an electronic screen.


According to the Poynter coverage by freelance reporter Carlie Kollath Wells, Mathews also said this about the changes at The Times-Picayune:


"This is a 50 chapter book,” he said. “The first chapter was we decided to make a bold change. This is chapter two. So far, so good, but we’ve got a lot to learn. Hopefully as a result of things that are successful for us and the mistakes we make, you can learn from that."


There are two curious points about that comment. One is that he seems to be acknowledging the possibility of mistakes. (Hey Ricky we’re with you on that one.) The other is that in making his analogy, he used a print-centric metaphor by referring to chapters – as in books.


See Ricky, there is a place for print after all.






Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival - Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via email atgdkrewe@aol.com or (504) 895-2266.



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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde


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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