Jul 16, 201210:09 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

The Times-Picayune Fiasco: What the Citizens Told the Newhouses

Last week a group of 70 or so prominent locals sent a letter to the Newhouse family urging them to sell The Times-Picayune. Among the signees were the university presidents, Tom and Gale Benson, James Carville, Cokie Roberts, the two arches (the Archbishop and Archie Manning) and many more people of influence. Response to the letter, as reported in The Times-Picayune, was swift.

Donald E. Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, was quoted as saying:

"We have read the letter with great respect and concern. Advance Publications has no intention of selling The Times-Picayune."

Well at least he didn’t call it “noise.”

Still, even in rejecting the letter, the Newhouses should have gotten a reading of the contempt that there is for them because of what they are doing to New Orleans. The words were strong and should be taken seriously:

Citizens Group to Newhouses

• "If you have ever valued the friendship you have shared with our city and your loyal readers, we ask that you sell The Times-Picayune. Our city wants a daily printed paper, needs a daily printed paper and deserves a daily printed paper.

• (The goodwill Newhouse had built over 50 years has) "dissipated in just a few short months because of the decision that took our entire community by surprise. Advance Publications and its leadership have lost the trust and credibility of a significant segment of the community."

• (The decision has) "already created the impression that our recovery is so tepid that we cannot support an important civic institution like a daily newspaper."

And to me, the strongest statement of all:

"If your family does not believe in the future of this great city and its capacity to support a daily newspaper, it is only fair to allow us to find someone who does."

There was also a reference in the letter to the citizens group having a buyer.

To the Newhouses all of this hubbub may be nothing more than harmless peasant restlessness in one of the colonies. They, after all, are insulated and have wealth and power. What they do not have is public support, and that may be prove to be the most powerful force of all.




Reader Comments:
Jul 16, 2012 10:54 am
 Posted by  Metairie Maiden

The masses(business owners of every size) have the power in their pocketbooks----advertising. Where are the "boycott the tp! -30-" t-shirts? Sorry it has to be this way........and best of all I too am a journalism/communications major from LOYOLA.

I used to get a call to subscribe to the TP almost monthly. Now I get none. I guess that was a cost saving measure to cut the telemarketers too........not that I'm disappointed.

For anyone that read the paper, it was so thin on some days and filled with violence of the latest crimes committed in the last 24 hours that it was hard to find new information of any substance. Also, there were too many grammatical mistakes for my reading so I really believe they were asleep at the wheel or had cut back to one editor that must have been seeing double for all those mistakes.

What I'd like is a real newspaper, 7 days a week, that can give me the kind of indepth behind-the-scenes information and scoops that I can't find in a :60 broadcast story. A story from David Simon's blog, copied in Gambit last week, tells us what can and can't happen without beat reporters...........very scary not have a monitor in this town.

And, let me add good journalism takes time and can't function on $1/inch of copy or whatever the going rate is as a freelancing occupation. One could probably make more money in tips at the right restaurant in town!

Jul 16, 2012 10:57 am
 Posted by  Metairie Maiden

Oh, and how the heck am I going to know when someone dies if i can't read the obits every day when I get old? Now they're messing with "tradition"!

Jul 16, 2012 01:23 pm
 Posted by  Boycott Nola.com

To get the Newhouse clan to reconsider their "business plan" we must deprive them of what they want most: an obedient, compliant online audience and online ad profits.
Over 80,000 have been reached by our facebook page, Boycott Nola.com. To learn more:

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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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