Advocate vs. The T-P: War of Words

Never before has a newspaper spoken out against its opposition so directly and in such prime space. A half-page overlay that covered part of last Saturday’s New Orleans Advocate asked the question, “Where’s Your Times-Picayune?” The question was a jab at the T-P once again receding in daily home deliveries after having briefly gone daily during the combined football and holiday season. Now the T-P has reverted to its previous Wednesday, Friday and Sunday home delivery schedule. The T-P still claims to be a daily because of its newsstand editions. Remember the tabloid-sized T-P Street? It has been replaced with a regular sized newsstand version of The Times-Picayune.

         Still, for the consumer there’s a huge difference from having a newspaper at your door everyday, versus thrice weekly and having to go to the newsstand on the other days. What we have learned during the football season interim is that those who hoped that the T-P would permanently return to its glory as a true daily can give up on the thought. Reality hit hard with the announcement that the T-P’s local printing plant will be shut down. The newspaper will now be printed in Mobile, Alabama. Factoring in the costs of sending trucks each evening from Mobile and back makes it more likely that the future will provide even fewer editions of the T-P.

 Pollyanna has gone missing. There will be no more daily home delivered Times-Picayune.

         With a cadence that reminded me of Thomas Jefferson’s listing of British sins as recorded in the Declaration of Independence, the Advocate’s statement continued: “They have laid off hundreds of longtime employees. (They are) relocating their printing press to Mobile and are moving scores of jobs to Alabama, Michigan and Colorado. Their out-of-state owners have given up on New Orleans.”

         “Had Enough?” the Advocate announcement continued. “Enjoy today’s free copy of The New Orleans Advocate, your locally owned, locally written daily newspaper. …

    … The New Orleans Advocate believes New Orleans deserves a seven-day paper.”

         Having a Sunday paper for home consumption, The Times-Picayune countered with a full page inside house ad saying: Look to the Leader. “As Louisiana’s largest news organization, our goal is and will be to bring you the news, sports and entertainment of our region. We’ve been doing this innovatively for 177 years.” The announcement went on to trumpet the newspaper’s list of awards and to promote the website: “We provide your news every minute of the day. Nola.com gives you live updates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

         We would expect more of such arguments from the T-P but, as an indication of the flaw to its ways, there will be no more home editions until Wednesday. Meanwhile the Advocate will get to deliver its message with patriotic fervor every day.

        I still believe in the T-P’s ability to publish a good newspaper. Something we learned, however, during the T-P’s brief comeback, is that two daily newspapers everyday are too much to keep up with. What has evolved, one daily newspaper and one thrice-weekly publication might not be so bad, especially with both feeding the Internet. Three years ago when the Newhouses decided to deny New Orleans a daily newspaper who would have thought that we would have one anyway, and that it would be The New Orleans Advocate.

 

 

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 BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.

       
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS  AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.

Categories: The Editor’s Room

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