In New Orleans, A Flurry Of News Movement


It’s been stormy in New Orleans this month — a description you can use for what’s been happening in its news scene, too. After the shock in May over plans by the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications to cut the Times-Picayune’s print schedule to three days a week, New Orleanians launched a protest that is resulting in a flurry of movement on the news scene.

  • On Friday, the University of New Orleans and public broadcaster WWNO, in partnership with NPR, announced NewOrleansReporter.org. It’s described as a public media newsroom that’s meant to produce in-depth local reporting on issues of vital interest to the New Orleans community.

According to its founders, “NewOrleansReporter.org will generate online, mobile and radio content … and is intended to create a sustainable model for nonprofit journalism in greater New Orleans for decades to come.” Sustainability (meaning the money to run it) is always a huge issue with any public media project.

But this one has support from Greater New Orleans Inc., the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the Business Council of New Orleans, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. NewOrleansReporter.org is also inviting people to become its initial subscribers. The operation will be based at WWNO, which recently shifted its programming to focus on news.

  • Meanwhile, the Times-Picayune announced that it will print four days a week this fall, during the NFL season. The paper will put out a Saints-focused section, available in newspaper boxes and delivered to subscribers’ homes after Sunday and Monday games. That move is a bow to Saints fans, who were alarmed that they would not be able to read a newspaper on the days after their team played.
  • Saints’ owner Tom Benson is offering to buy the paper , although the Newhouse family says that the Times-Picayune is not for sale. A group of New Orleans’ notables has urged the Newhouses to sell the Times-Picayune, and there has been speculations that at least two prospective buyers might come forward.

At least for now, Advance Publications is moving forward with plans to dramatically cut the newsroom staff, and place more emphasis on Web operations. That means the Times-Picayune doesn’t yet have the Hollywood ending that many hope for — far from it.

Departures of well-known bylines at the paper are continuing. On Friday, former Times-Picayune crime reporter Brendan McCarthy tweeted a series of police reports, then signed off, saying, “And amid all this crime news, I’m heading out of the office for the last time. Been a privilege to work at the T-P for last 5 1/2 yrs.” He isn’t going far: McCarthy is joining WWL-TV to join its investigative team.