Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
T-P Kicks Up Its Game Plan, At Least For A While
The Times-Picayune will be delivered five days a week, at least from September to after the Superbowl.
Here’s a brief word quiz:
Question: What do you call a newspaper that publishes seven days a week and provides home delivery as well as newsstand distribution?
Answer: A “daily.”
Question: What do you call a newspaper that publishes three times a week, provides “bonus” home delivered editions two other times a week only during football season, and that counts an early edition of its Sunday paper as a Saturday paper and that distributes smaller editions of its weekday papers to newsstands only on the days when it does not provide home delivery?
Answer: Confusing. (Or as the industry may one day come to know it, “Newhousian.”)
According to an announcement on the front page of the Saturday/Sunday Times-Picayune, the newspaper, starting September 6, will begin providing bonus editions to its subscribers to be delivered on Saturdays and Mondays. The added service will last through the end of football season, a period that conveniently also happens to embrace the busiest part of the shopping season.
“Our readers’ interest peaks in the fall and so does our advertisers’ desire to reach them,” the front-page announcement said. “So we are expanding our print coverage to meet the heightened reader intensity and to serve our advertisers, who depend on us to reach their customers.”
So now The Times-Picayune will be delivered five days a week, (every day except Tuesday and Thursday) at least from September till after the Superbowl.
That prompts three questions:
1.) Does this open the way for the T-P to announce in January that five times a week has become so popular that it will permanently maintain that schedule?
2.) Back when the Newhouses made their original draconian cutbacks, would five times a week, instead of three, have seemed significantly less like a kick in the groin and caused less outrage?
3.) What about The Advocate?
My answers to those questions are:
3.) The New Orleans Advocate is still THE daily newspaper and its ownership deserves credit for having taken a risk while the Newhouses punted.
Speaking of punts, the move certainly underscores the power of football as an economic force and as a font of public interest. By having a Saturday edition, the T-P can bring back its coverage of day- after high school games, day- of College games and day-before Saints games. Monday Saints post-game print coverage is also a high demand that was lost in the last two seasons.
On Tuesday and Thursday the rest of the world’s news can be damned including day- after coverage of the two times that the Saints are on Monday night football. There will be one Thursday edition, however. Not wanting to lose the most locative advertising issue of the year, the T-P will continue to publish on Thanksgiving.
Elsewhere in its announcement, the company said that the tabloid sized Times-Picayune Street (which is sold only at newsstands) will switch to “broadsheet” (the size of the regular newspaper) meaning that the entire T-P run will again be the same size. Also, beginning September 6, the e-edition will unveil a new look similar to the T-P’s broadsheet format. (Think about this for a moment, the latest in web design is to make the electronic page look more like a newspaper.)
All of this makes me realize that the debate has changed. Originally, the outrage was in hopes that the Newhouses would see the errors of their greed and restore the relationship the city once had with its daily, but that’s not the issue anymore. When we were left without a daily, another one stepped in, The New Orleans Advocate. In a short time it has become a good newspaper. The Newhouses should not be allowed to tread on that. There are some talented people working for the T-P. That paper can now best service the city, and itself, as a periodical. But to put it in the football parlance that the Newhouses suddenly embrace, The Advocate is the home team now.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7PM, REPEATED AT 11:30 PM.WYES-TV, CH. 12.