The highly respected journalists at New Orleans' Times-Picayune last night found out the hard way — from another news outlet — that they're about to face deep staff cuts and that the newspaper will soon only print three days a week.
The New York Times' Media Decoder broke the story Wednesday just before midnight ET.
Today, the Times-Picayune confirmed the news. Ricky Mathews, who is becoming president of the newly created NOLA Media Group, is cited in a statement saying that the changes, which take effect this fall, are essential to keep the news outlet alive.
According to the statement, "NOLA Media Group will significantly increase its online news-gathering efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week. The newspaper will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only."
As for the staff cuts, no number was given but the company acknowledges "the transition will be difficult." The New Orleans newssite Gambit, cites a source with knowledge of the plans as saying about a third of the Times-Picayune's news staff may go — including as many as 50 reporters. Some top editors are also expected to depart, Gambit says.
Cutting back or eliminating altogether their printed products has become something a trend at U.S. newspapers, starting with The Christian Science Monitor's decision in 2008 to do away with its paper-and-ink version altogether.
Staff cuts have also been an ongoing fact of life at newspapers for several years now. Wednesday, USA Today let go some of its sports staff in its latest bid to restructure.