Residents Lament Loss of Daily Times-Picayune

Oct 1, 2012

New Orleanians are waking up for the first time without their Monday edition of the Times-Picayune. It doesn’t exist anymore. Some readers shared their thoughts on cutbacks taking effect at the paper, and if they’ll give a new venture a chance.

Outside an Uptown market, shoppers were asked for their thoughts about the Times-Picayune printing only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Alan Gerson was angry.

“I think it’s terrible that the Newhouse family has seen fit to stop the daily publication of the newspaper for some kind of financial advantage when it was already making money. They weren’t losing anything. And it’s of vital importance to the city. And the years that we were loyal to the Times-Picayune seem to count for nothing for the Newhouse people.”  

He says he’s curious about The Advocate of Baton Rouge opening a bureau in New Orleans and stepping up coverage in the city.

“We do get the New York Times also, and the Times-Picayune will be three days a week. But I have been thinking seriously about getting The Advocate as well. I don’t think there’s anybody in New Orleans who thinks that what the Newhouse family did is the right thing.”

The Times-Picayune says that while what it calls "the rhythms" of the company are changing, the mission is not. Marie Dennis isn’t convinced. She’s been buying the paper for 72 years, and taking the cutbacks personally.

“It’s another, to me, another way of telling us that the city is dying. That’s the way I feel. I was here when there was the States-Item and the Item and you know — way back when. And  I just think it’s terrible that a city... I was going to say a city of this magnitude but I guess we’re not this magnitude anymore. The people who own the Times-Picayune don’t think that this city is important enough to continue with a daily newspaper and it makes me very sad.”

She says she’s not likely to follow news online, as the Times-Picayune pushes its website.

Neither is Vernon Brinson.

“We will be getting the Baton Rouge paper. Whether we continue with the Times-Picayune I don’t know. We might. We might not. But we’re going to get the Baton Rouge paper and we’re going to read it every day.” 

Stephen Klein says he’s read the Times-Picayune for years, but has noticed he’s moving away from print.

“I had moved away to Seattle and only got the paper on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. And when we moved back to New Orleans I found that I really, actually did not read the paper most days of the week. I would catch it mostly online. But I certainly will miss it going away.”

University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak says he’s unaware of another newspaper in the United States that cut back publication to later resurrect print editions. He says the Times-Picayune has lost longtime reporters and writers with institutional memory. And  it’s too soon to make a prediction about a newspaper war in New Orleans.

“Lots of connections that have been built up through the years have been lost. So it’s going to take a while, if ever, before they can get up the quality of political coverage that the Times-Picayune had. It’s hard to say where it’s going to go. Because eventually, I mean, no one likes the fact that the Times-Picayune has been lost. But technology being as it is, we don’t really know how much longer we’re going to see traditional newspapers.”

Times-Picayune publishers are promising that the remaining three print editions will have “substantial content and heft.”