Civic Leaders Seek Alternative To Times-Picayune Cuts

May 25, 2012

The announcement that the Times-Picayune is making cutbacks and planning to print only three copies a week has shocked some community leaders. But one leading expert in journalism says shifting to online delivery is a clear industry path.

The Newhouse family’s Advance Publications company has decided to shift the Times-Picayune from a traditional daily to an online format. It’s doing the same at three papers in Alabama. New Orleans philanthropist Anne Milling serves on the Times-Picayune advisory board, and was shocked by the announcement. She responded by purchasing a web address she’s calling, and is meeting with community leaders to find an alternative.

“This is a business model that I don’t think really quite fits the culture of New Orleans. And that’s what I would say to them. ‘I think you’ve misjudged us.’ And that’s all it is. I mean, I know that they want to do what’s best for them as a business but I think knowing how we are and how quirky and how different we are — we just are — I think perhaps they’ve misjudged the situation.”

Paul Greenberg is program director for media arts and journalism at Tulane University. He says he wasn’t that surprised the company was diverting to online delivery, a move being taken more and more across the country as newspapers try to appeal to a younger audience.

“It’s a generational thing. Now the older people in the community really have an intense loyalty to the newspaper. It’s a big part of the fabric of their culture. But I ask my students every semester ‘How many of you read a newspaper?’ Not one of them will raise their hand and I’m not exaggerating. Not one person in the classroom raises their hand.”

Company spokesman Randy Siegel says the changes are “essential” to remain relevant.  The cutback in printed editions is planned for the fall.