How Changes at a Newspaper Are Unifying a City
Many New Orleanians credit the Times-Picayune with uniting the city in the aftermath of 2005′s devastating Hurricane Katrina. And now, the paper is showing its unifying power again in the wake of another upheaval.
Journalists and non-journalists, lifelong residents and residents-at-heart have come together to protest changes to the city’s beloved newspaper, which will no longer publish seven days a week come fall and will become a more digitally focused product.
City residents wasted little time in making their displeasure known. Hundreds of people attended a rally soon after the announcement to support the paper and its staff, about a third of which will be let go.
Since the brouhaha began, readers have bought “The Some-Times Picayune” and “Save The Picayune: Don’t Let Bylines be Bygones” protest T-shirts, hung support banners on fences, posted “Wanted” signs for new Publisher Ricky Mathews and bought Times-Picayune stud pins in support of the paper’s employees.
In addition to emotional support, readers, angered at the deep staff cuts, are also raising money to help those who are losing their jobs at the paper.
Despite the public outrage, the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications, which owns the paper, has not wavered from its plans to build what it calls a company that can grow in the digital age. Those plans include reducing the frequency of print publication to three days a week in New Orleans and at its three Alabama newspapers.
“Not evolving was not going to be a winning strategy,” Randy Siegel, Advance’s president of local digital strategy, told AJR earlier this month. “And we’ve watched very closely in all our markets how our readers and advertisers are using digital products and services to get their news and information.”