Jul 15, 201309:59 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

The Times-Picayune Fiasco: Hey Newhouses, the Stakes are Getting Higher!

If this were a poker game one might look for a gleam in The Advocate’s new owner, John Georges', eye. One would also look to see if the Newhouses’ hand was not as strong as they thought it was when the game started.


We are now in a transitional stage in the future of New Orleans’ home-delivered daily newspapers. In a business where much time is spent trying to separate rumors from fact, the sky is atwitter with the former. According to rumors, The Advocate will be making a big move within the near future, which will include a redesign and rebranding. No longer will it be just the New Orleans edition of The Advocate, but rather The New Orleans Advocate.


Already the newspaper has made several high profile hires most of whom were formerly with The Times-Picayune. Might there be more to come? There go those rumors.


What is fact is that The Advocate operates an office in downtown New Orleans where there are “reporters” rather than “content providers” and “editors” rather than whatever the Newhouses' techy euphemism du jour is. That office is on the ground floor rather than, as is now the case with The Times-Picayune, on the top floor of an office building. There is something trustworthy about easy access to journalists and the people they cover.


I am not sure how the three-day-a-week, newsstand-only, no-home-delivery T-P Street has caught on, if it has at all. There's no noise about it, Mr. Newhouse. There are not even rumors.


I never doubted that the real Times-Picayune, the one that comes out on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, would still have the capacity to be a good newspaper. There are some talented survivors there. The only difference is that locals are mad, not at the newspaper but at what its ownership has done to it. New Orleans feels insulted by the Newhouses. It is hard to develop goodwill from there.


A year ago this past week, a letter signed by 70 or so prominent locals was sent to the Newhouse family urging them to sell The Times-Picayune. Among the signees were the university presidents, Tom and Gayle Benson, James Carville, Cokie Roberts; the two arches – the Archbishop and Archie Manning – and many more people of influence.


Some of the points made, as reported in one of the last Tuesday editions of The Times-Picayune, were quite powerful:


  • ”If you have ever valued the friendship you have shared with our city and your loyal readers, we ask that you sell The Times-Picayune. Our city wants a daily printed paper, needs a daily printed paper and deserves a daily printed paper.”


(The goodwill Newhouse had built over 50 years has) "dissipated in just a few short months because of the decision that took our entire community by surprise. Advance Publications and its leadership have lost the trust and credibility of a significant segment of the community." 


And to me, the strongest statement of all: 

"If your family does not believe in the future of this great city and its capacity to support a daily newspaper, it is only fair to allow us to find someone who does."


In response, Donald E. Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, was quoted saying, “We have read the letter with great respect and concern. Advance Publications has no intention of selling The Times-Picayune.”


Well at least he didn’t call it “noise.”


Who would have thought that a year later the city’s daily newspaper WOULD be in the hands of a new owner, only the daily is The Advocate and the owner is John Georges?


Hey Newhouses, there are still some big hands to be played.

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is due to be released Oct. 31. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.



Reader Comments:
Jul 15, 2013 11:43 am
 Posted by  TRD1965

I find it criminal that New Orleans is a major cosmopolitan city and has newspaper delivery like a town of 20,000! In addition, the fact that the Newhouses seem to think that the people of New Orleans are just children who don't know any better is downright insulting. We know what's best for you, so just shut up and take what we give you, peasants. The fact that they ignore the little readership they still have just absolutely floors me. These people don't give two hoots (I'm keeping it clean here) about New Orleans, the Picayune, OR their readers, it's just numbers on a ledger to them. Maybe when the Advocate hands their behinds to them on a silver platter, because in all likelihood that's what's going to end up happening, you'll sing a different tune about selling the paper. You should listen to your readership, Mr. Newhouse. They're the ones who buy your paper, and your numbers are dropping like a lead balloon. People don't like to be insulted, Mr. Newhouse, and calling it "noise" is insulting. You do New Orleans a great disservice by underestimating her. Your mistake, Newhouse. Your mistake.

Jul 15, 2013 12:46 pm
 Posted by  NOLABeau

Thanks Errol.

Jul 15, 2013 02:52 pm
 Posted by  charlene

"we have read the letter with great respect and concern"........are you kidding!!!!!!!!!
as my grandmother used to say: "God give me strength"........

errol....thanks for your articles and small rays of hope!!!

Jul 15, 2013 03:07 pm
 Posted by  Yvonne

Subscribe to the Advocate & enjoy it. Cut back my daily (3 times a wk) Picayune to just Sunday delivery. Keep hoping the Advocate will add Chris Rose as a columnist. His columns were always a favorite of mine. Now he's not on Channel 8 anymore. Time for him to write for our daily.

Jul 15, 2013 04:17 pm
 Posted by  John

Obviously the great City of New Orleans is dealing with another Yankee carpetbagger in the Newhouses. While not a native of NO, but of Louisiana, I always enjoyed reading the T-P and am saddened to see it fall into such an uncaring bunch.

Jul 15, 2013 08:11 pm
 Posted by  jlrob

Mr. Laborde,
Thank you for your continued coverage of the Newhouse TP travesty. With my Advocate subscription in hand, I am sadly cancelling my TP delivery. Sad for the uncaring destruction of a great paper, the decimation of its award winning staff, and destruction of the great relationship the TP had with the city and its readership. Good riddance, Newhouse.

Jul 17, 2013 01:49 pm
 Posted by  runner55

When the "Some" Times Picayune announced that it would start an abbreviated publishing schedule, I immediately subscribed to The Advocate. Being a self professed sports-a-holic, I now see where the sports section of The Advocate has better coverage, and better articles, and a much better baseball page. I am almost to the point where I will no longer subscribe to The "Some" Times Picayune. The Advocate is my newspaper of choice.

Jul 18, 2013 01:02 am
 Posted by  Andy Brott

As a City of extremes, lets not be surprised greed turned the best of Times into the worst of Times overnight. They went from Cindy Changs team reporting on Criminal Justice reform, to TP Streeks 4 days a week. So unless you have family or friends who for now still rely on Newhouse $, please cancel your subscription, end your support, and never click on noladotcom sites.
Especially when others like Errol and Renaissance, the Lens, the Gambit, WWNO, Uptown Messenger, NOLA Defender, and YES our locally owned and delivered daily Advocate need our support.
And lastly what's up with Besson's/Fox partnership with the "DTP"?
+ where is our so proud to be local Rouses?
Lets help all get off the "Titanic" safely..
Best from Freret,
Andy Brott

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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde


Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.




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