Times-Picayune to publish three days a week, cut staff

MediaWire memo | The Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. has confirmed that the newspaper will cease daily publication, moving to three days a week in the fall: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. He also confirmed staff cuts, though he didn’t say how large they will be. The New York Times’ David Carr reported Wednesday night that the paper likely would cease daily publication and that the two managing editors would leave.

This would make New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune, with a circulation of about 155,000 on Sundays and 134,000 weekdays, would be the largest paper in the U.S. to shift to non-daily publication. Its circulation in March 2005, before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city and shrank the city’s population: about 285,000 on Sundays and 257,000 weekdays.

In 2009 Advance Publications, which owns The Times-Picayune, shifted to twice-weekly printing for The Ann Arbor News and started to focus more on its website. It expanded that approach to other newspapers in Michigan last year.

“I think this is a big blow,” said Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds. “Yes, it’s happened in a few places, but Saginaw and New Orleans are not the same thing. You’re talking about a major-league city.”

Phelps told staff staff:

Press reports have necessitated our giving you this news now. We realize it  will make people anxious, but we do not know enough today to be able to announce how the changes will affect individual employees. We will move as quickly as possible in the coming weeks to make that determination and to inform each of you personally.

The Times-Picayune announced on its site that a new company, NOLA Media Group, will run the newspaper and its website, and another new company will print and deliver the paper. It said NOLA Media Group “will significantly increase its online news-gathering efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

In some ways, the newspaper will be better on the remaining days, according to Jim Amoss, who is now editor of the paper and will run the new “combined content operation”:

With a reduced printing schedule starting in the fall, Amoss said, plans call for the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday editions of The Times-Picayune to be in many ways more robust than each of the daily newspapers is currently. They 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.

Related:Grievous news,” says David SimonSen. Landrieu says, “Not having a daily print edition saddens me” || Earlier: Times-Picayune may stop daily publication; faces deep cuts

The memo from Phelps:

To all employees:

We wanted to make you aware of a news story that will be posted on NOLA.com regarding the future of the company, and to alert you that we will be scheduling meetings to discuss it with groups of employees today.

The story, which can be accessed through this link http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2012/05/nolamediagroup.html details the formation of NOLA Media Group, a digitally focused company that will launch this fall and that will develop new and innovative ways to deliver news and information to the company’s online and mobile readers. NOLA Media Group will be led by Ricky Mathews. Also this fall, The Times-Picayune will begin publishing a more robust newspaper on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only.

We will also be forming a new company, Advance Central Services Louisiana , which will be led by Ray Massett. ACS will produce and distribute the newspaper as well as provide critical support functions for the NOLA Media Group.

Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce.

Press reports have necessitated our giving you this news now. We realize it  will make people anxious, but we do not know enough today to be able to announce how the changes will affect individual employees. We will move as quickly as possible in the coming weeks to make that determination and to inform each of you personally.

We will meet with department heads at 9 a.m. today in the 2nd-floor conference room . Staff meetings will be scheduled during the day. We will not be able to answer all of the questions you have, but will address as many as possible.

Ashton Phelps, Jr.
Publisher

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  • Anonymous

    Alex, do you happen to know the size of the Ann Arbor newsroom since going almost completely digital? thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1377616268 George Schwarz

    I am sorry, Jim, that you become a corporate stooge. This whole thing is bullshit for profiting the big guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nixonale Alex Nixon

    The Ann Arbor News shut down and was replaced by a website that also published one edition a week. Seven other Newhouse papers in Michigan shifted to three day a week home delivery with a printed product available at news stands every day — the same thing the two Detroit papers had done previously. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/loualexander Lou Alexander

     Sadly, I think more and more
    newspapers will be forced to follow this model. Few newspapers generate
    enough revenue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to break even. (Midweek
    preprints make keeping one midweek day feasible.) Most newspapers do not
    count Saturday circulation toward ABC totals. I dread the day when there
    is no longer a San Jose Mercury News waiting for me in the driveway
    every morning but I think 3 day a week home delivery (at best) is in the
    future for many of us.