Some cities are one daily newspaper towns; a few have two. In terms of home-delivered publications, New Orleans has the distinction of being a one and five-sevenths newspaper town – at least between now and the end of football season.
September is a significant month in chronicling the Newhouse publishing empire’s whittling of The Times-Picayune. This month two years ago was the last time that the newspaper published and provided home-delivered daily service before switching to a thrice-weekly format. A year ago the Baton Rouge-based Advocate newspaper began to rebrand its local edition as The New Orleans Advocate. This year, The T-P has announced that during the football season, which coincides with the peak shopping season, it will add two more home-delivered papers a week (Saturday and Monday) to be provided to subscribers only. That is a total of five issues published with the hope that nothing major happens that people would want to read about in print on Tuesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, The T-P’s newsstand-only tabloid, TP Street, will change format to broadsheet size, similar to a regular newspaper.
Tangentially, the move shows the economic force of football, not only driving audiences to the news media but as a backdrop for holiday advertising. Many towns, New Orleans high among them, fill hotels during the slow weeks of Christmas by hosting bowl games. We suppose there’s something comforting about nations where games rather than wars are more pivotal to our everyday lives.
Nevertheless the news continues and the reporting of it is a critical responsibility. Having a daily and a partial daily, New Orleans, it could be hoped, benefits from the competition. Two years ago we wished that The Times-Picayune would return as a daily. Now, with The Advocate in place, The T-P’s move to less frequency might be the better alternative. It could be that a town with a daily and a less frequent alternative might be the way to go. Each could serve the city from its own perspective.
Two years ago it seemed like the city was going backwards with its newspaper coverage. Now it just may be leading the way.