In Memoriam: The Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune
Last week, Newhouse Newspapers announced that this fall the 175-year-old New Orleans Times-Picayune, would only hit the streets in print form three days a week: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. When the changes come to pass, the Crescent City will become America's largest city without daily print news coverage, and the Times-Pic will be the biggest paper to downgrade to less-than-daily publication.
Beaumont, Lufkin, Tyler, Galveston and Huntsville will soon have papers that publish more frequently than New Orleans, formerly the queen city of the Gulf Coast.
Supporters of the move claim that the diminished schedule will result in more "robust" editions on the three days they do print. The thrice-weekly Times-Pic will "contain a richer and deeper news, sports and entertainment report, as well as a full week's worth of features such as society coverage, puzzles and comics."
Others are not so sure. One such is New Orleans native and former Houstonian Greg Ellis, who grew up scooping up the Times-Pic off his doorstep.
"It's really a drag. It makes New Orleans seem like it's going away instead of coming back," he says over the phone from Austin. "This spits in the face of a city that's trying to make a comeback. Management is effectively saying, 'We've given y'all seven years [after Katrina], and now y'all are on your own."
Ellis says that while the paper's music and entertainment coverage was always at best B-grade, overall the paper did a great job of reflecting New Orleans. "It was a quirky daily: lots of local flavor and great columnists," he says. (Most notably and recently, the intimidatingly awesome Chris Rose, at least in my opinion.)
Ellis also believes it's a kick in the pants to a staff that gave as much as any newsroom in American history in the wake of Katrina. Not only did the paper compile and run an exhaustive report on the state of the levees before they broke, but they also managed to continue bringing the world the news even as their city filled with corpses, brown and toxic waters, and a complete shredding of the social fabric.
"That was the biggest catastrophe in America in the 21st century, and they had that paper up and running [on the Web] the very next day," Ellis says. "They certainly responded much better than the government did."
And, now, according to Ellis, Newhouse Newspapers is sending the message that the Times-Pic and the city of New Orleans are "not worth saving."