The Times-Picayune One Year Later: How the Cutbacks Changed New Orleans News
This Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, represents one year since The Times-Picayune went from being a daily newspaper to thrice weekly. Here is my list of five major implications, to date, of that change:
1. The Times-Picayune's role has changed. A city's daily newspaper is a maternal figure. It is there every morning through good times and bad. It keeps you posted with information, scolds when it needs to, rejoices when it can. The Times-Picayune is still an important newspaper, but it is no longer mother waiting at the door. The Newhouses traded status for cost efficiency.
2. Advocate's emergence. This has been the biggest surprise of the past year. About 12 months ago we knew that the Baton Rouge Advocate would publish a New Orleans edition, but then John Georges bought the paper and, locally at least, rebranded it to The New Orleans Advocate. The newspaper is staffed by some of the best of The Times-Picayune's former personnel. If The Times-Picayune was the maternal figure, The Advocate is a stepmom. Yet to be learned is how many people will embrace her. To her credit, though, she is trying hard to endear herself to folks with long established family ties.
3. Television tie-ins. Now you can see Advocate stories being referred to on Ch. 4 and The Times-Picayune partnered with Ch. 8. Some WWL stories are even reshaped and printed in The Advocate. This is a healthy sign that gives TV and print chances to share their resources.
4. And the internet. By all indications, The T-P's NOLA.com is still the most actively read site in town though that might change as other news operations, including TV, get to actively promote what they have. There are also non-conventional news sources such as The Lens and the Uptown Messenger which have become effective at providing their own news and feeding stories to the other media.
5. Fighting back. Of all the cities where the Newhouses have reduced their dailies, New Orleans took it the hardest. Nowhere else has a rebranded newspaper entered the market so competitively; nowhere else have locals been so angry. (Curiously, this is the one story that it is awkward for the newspapers themselves to cover.) By cutting costs the Newhouses may have increased profit, but in New Orleans they triggered a reaction that will become a journalism case study. We are the city that gave a damn.