Thursday, June 14, 2012

Change and the Times Picayune

Barring a miracle, New Orleans will lose its daily print edition of the New Orleans Times Picayune by fall.  The decision by the new management has resulted in angry comments and no shortage of heartache.  A number of respected journalists have lost jobs, and we will be the only major metropolitan area without a daily print edition of the paper.

The new head of the organization has assured us that the paper will appear in print on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays--in a more "robust" form., its digital counterpart, will become more "user friendly."  Today, the paper launched a full-length story about how digital media had spread the word about Katrina when the city was drowning and that the reality of the digital age made this change necessary.  I fully realize that the world has changed.  I, for one, publish books in an e-format.  Today, many of us find a great deal of our information online.  We google and tweet.  We receive "mail" via our computers and pay our bills online. I am usually one to embrace change, and I fully understand that a business (which a newspaper is) has to bring in revenue.  However, change should not disenfranchise those in a modern society.  Many elderly people are not computer-savvy.  Many poor people, marginalized already, will be even more so.  Of course, most people with wealth don't care about them, anyway.  Not all people have ready access to a computer.  I also am not saying that those who prefer the digital version shouldn't have that avenue provided.  This is an age of choice--or should be-- but many people will only see the stirring headlines and compelling pictures if the paper remains in print.  When I wrote Love At War, (, I researched old newspaper clippings about the outbreak of World War II.  Today, as I work on a Depression/Prohibition era manuscript, I definitely will look at old clippings of the TP from that time.  However, I know I am more fortunate than some.  I can navigate around a computer.  Not everyone can.

What is probably most disturbing is the attitude of the new management to the concerns of the citizenry.  The concerted protests of residents do not matter.  We are collateral damage in the new management's greedy quest for revenue.  Many prominent people have offered solutions.  Some entrepreneurs and businesspeople have proposed buying the paper at a fair price.  He whose name we do not speak has said it doesn't matter how much "noise" we make.  Well, we are not some local yokels.  Maybe our local advertisers should boycott you. Maybe we should make Howard Avenue a protest ground.  Thank you for walking over us.  Maybe you raised our consciousness as never before.


  1. It's sad to see one of my home town icons being swept into the Mississippi River like dead wood. My father is an avid reader of the Times Picayune and has never gone a day without it since I can remember, as I am sure most people his age in New Orleans and the surrounding area do. I would hope that the powers that be will have a change of heart and come to a solution that will be a good fit for all.

    1. What's sad, Virginia, is that Newhouse is unwilling to sell the paper--even to interested local buyers.