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The T-P Fiasco, Part 3

And now the end


September will be a transitional month in the cultural, social, economic, political and journalistic life of New Orleans. It will be the last month in nearly two centuries in which we are not served by a locally published daily newspaper.

Seldom has the community been as united as it is in its contempt for the Newhouse family’s decision to reduce publication of the The Times-Picayune from daily to three times a week. Now a once-respected daily that was so much of a voice in our recovery had been reduced to small-time status. New Orleans will be the largest city in the nation without a locally published daily. As a town that tries hard to be big league, we will also be the only city in the NFL (including Green Bay) and the NBA without a hometown pub.

Advance Publications (the Newhouse division under which The Times-Picayune is placed) has tried to dazzle us with talk about the web future, but the Internet and its various i-things is already omnipresent. Unlike a daily newspaper, the web will not be exclusive to anyone.

This is the third month in a row that we have editorialized on what we regard as the “T-P fiasco.” Never have we given so much editorial attention to one issue. The reason is that never in our history has there been a companion editorial voice muted on a particular issue, that being The Times-Picayune. Already, the types of debate and discourse essential to a democracy have been compromised.

To Advance boss Steve Newhouse, New Orleans, we suspect, is another icon on his laptop – something to be dragged alongside Ann Arbor, Mich., as well as Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville, Ala., four other cities where he has implemented his downsizing theory. Though New Orleans is bigger and more globally important than those places, we are just another spot on his screen.

New Orleans will grow and be great despite the Newhouses, but as they prepare to downsize us, some thoughts about participants in this tragedy:
To The Times-Picayune staff: Please know that the vocal resistance is out of respect for the work that you and your departed colleagues have done.

May you soon find the job satisfaction you deserve.

To Baton Rouge’s Advocate newspaper: We wish you the very best at spreading into New Orleans and providing us with a daily newspaper. You, more than anyone, can prove the wisdom of local ownership.

To the area television stations: Now is your chance to take the lead in news as some of you have already done with your websites. You can be the genuine news leader.

To the new nonprofit news-oriented websites: We are pulling for you. It is important that you attract the funding that you deserve, not only for your news product but so that no one in high places can ever think that they can dominate the Internet.

To the citizens of New Orleans who have opposed the change: Keep on believing. Victories often come in unpredictable ways following their own timetable.

To Ricky Matthews, the T-P’s new “publisher:” Please do not be patronizing by trying to convince us that less is more and that worse is better.

To the Newhouses: We suspect that arrogance may prevent you from acknowledging the hurt you have done to New Orleans. We just hope that one day you will realize that in trying to envision the future, you were blinded to our soul.

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