“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

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