What happened the first time the Picayune felt pressure to cut publication to three days a week?

Advance Publications, owner of the 175-year-old, Pulitzer Prize-winning Times-Picayune, announced May 24 that beginning Oct. 1, it will cease being a daily newspaper and publish only three times a week, making New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. Three weeks later, management cut the staff by one-third - including slashing its newsroom staff by almost one-half - and said its emphasis going forward would be on its clunky and sometimes-impenetrable website, Nola.com.

What happened the first time the Picayune, one of the predecessors of today's Times-Picayune felt pressure to cut publication to three days a week? Professor Emeritus Larry Lorenz of the School of Mass Communication at Loyola University in New Orleans, cited this passage from T.E. Dabney's One Hundred Great Years: The Story of the Times-Picayune From its Founding to 1940:
"Within three months of the Picayune's founding in January 1837, a financial panic swept the country. In New Orleans, as elsewhere, businesses failed. Banks that had advanced money against the cotton crop suspended. In April, arsonists started fires throughout the city in order to plunder homes and businesses. In September came a yellow fever epidemic, and among those stricken were the Picayune's printers, and in late September, George Kendall, a co-founder of the paper, fell ill with the fever.

"Some of the city's five well-established dailies dropped to tri-weekly publication. The
Picayune did not miss an issue."

What do "MLive" and "experience with Georgia sports" have to do with new jobs at NOLA Media Group?

The blunders and PR disasters at The Times-Picayune keep piling up like garbage in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras.

T-P owner Advance Publications may think it doesn't need copy editors, but whomever is running the newspaper's HR operations since the entire HR team was sacked last Tuesday (along with nearly 200 other colleagues) definitely does. Three new job postings by NOLA Media Group refer to "MLive," Advance's disastrous Michigan operations, while another refers to the desirability of "past experience with Georgia sports." (Does that mean that while The Times-Picayune just cut its Washington, D.C. bureau in half, it's planning to open a Georgia bureau?)

You can find the job descriptions by keyword searching "MLive" and "George sports" on the NOLA.com's local jobs page. If someone has corrected the four ads by the time you see this, shoot an email to rebecca@rebeccatheim.com and I will forward screen grabs.

“Lou Grant” Joins the New Orleans Times-Picayune Battle

Actor Ed Asner Sends Message of Support to Newspaper’s Staff

I’ve been wanting to write about the incredibly sad news coming out of my former employer, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, and the battle the community is waging over a planned steep cut in the newspaper’s already reduced staff and a reduction of its print publishing schedule to three days a week.
There are so many reasons why this is such a bad idea, many which are articulated incredibly well in this article that appeared Friday on Fortune.com. (I list links to other good coverage of this issue at the end of this post.) But the human tragedy is that more people – some of the most generous, most kindhearted people I've ever had the pleasure of working with and knowing – will lose their jobs because the newspaper’s billionaire owners – the Newhouse family and their Advance Publications - need even more money. (Which, they incidentally continue to make in New Orleans because the Picayune remains profitable – apparently just not profitable enough for the Newhouses.)
Besides being generous and kindhearted, many of my fellow workers are also wicked funny – particularly when it comes to satirical parody and gallows humor.
Sometime over the weekend, fliers began appearing around The Times-Picayune newsroom featuring an iconic image of actor Ed Asner, in character in his seminal TV role as newspaper editor Lou Grant. Drawing from the convoluted corporate-speak Times-Picayune and Advance management used in announcing the looming changes, the images featured such captions as:
  • “What the hell is an ‘enhanced’ newspaper?”
  • “What the hell is a ‘robust’ website anyway?” 
  • “How exactly do we do more with less?” 
  • “Fewer ad dollars, huh? What about a paywall?” 
  • “A 3-day-a-week newspaper in New Orleans? When did Ted Baxter become an executive at Advance Publications?”
News of the fliers prompted New Orleans writer Michael Tisserand to reach out to Asner, in hopes that the famously activist-minded and big-hearted actor might offer some words of support and/or wisdom to the troops in the New Orleans. Tisserand, who’s been involved in the grassroots community effort to preserve the Picayune as a daily newspaper, contacted Asner’s assistant through Asner’s Studio, City, Calif. Quince Productions, Inc. and included select links to coverage of happenings in NOLA, including the Lou Grant-inspired fliers.
Less than an hour later, Tisserand received the following message, directed "To the employees of the Times-Picayune:”
“I've been on strike and I've always identified with the working press, knowing they're not fat cats and knowing job security is zilch. Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one. I identify totally with your plight and hope that a decent resolution may be arrived at!
Ed Asner"
Other Coverage of Interest