In the Sunday, Nov. 18, edition of Cleveland's The Plain Dealer (another Newhouse-owned daily), there was an announcement from the publisher and the editor saying that changes were coming soon. It is not known if the changes will be as drastic as they were in New Orleans, but the staff there is expecting them to be bad, as they surely will be. In making the announcement, the spokespeople said that the changes are not about financial condition but about adapting to the new world of digital. Here we go again: slash-and-burn and dazzle-with-digital.
To our fellow sufferers in Cleveland, we offer some tips from the fiasco as it has played out in New Orleans since Oct. 1 when the once distinguished Times-Picayune was reduced to thrice weekly. (Hint: It is not going over so well.)
- People have many digital alternatives to news in which the newspaper’s web presence is just one. Expect your TV stations and other media to enhance their websites.
- Once the newspaper is no longer a daily, its leadership role in the community diminishes. It is no longer the omnipresent source of information, but just another, though still important, periodical.
- If you go along with what the Newhouses are pitching and use their website as your source of information, by the time you get your print edition of the newspaper, much of the news is rehashed. It is either outdated or you have seen it already.
- With the staff cutbacks that will inevitably be a part of the change, much experience and memory will be lost. Try as they might, the newsgathering will not be as good.
- Long form journalism and extended series, as well as complex investigative pieces, do not fit into this format. They will be lost forever.
- Either a Newhouse or a hired gun will try to convince you that the changes are for the better. They are not. They are far worse. This is not just about less frequent newspapers but a cheapening of the newsgathering process.
- We should have seen it coming when our newspapers were put under a corporate division called Advance Digital. The name alone says where the thinking was. No one was paying attention. We still thought the Newhouses believed in newspapers. We were wrong.
- Whatever the real reasons are for the changes, they are between the Newhouses’ accountants and lawyers. Someone is going to get rich from all this, and they will be first in line.
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 at email@example.com or 504-895-2266.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.