Garrison Keillor: A city without a daily paper ‘is an office park with some malls’

In signing the “Save The Times-Picayune” petition, Garrison Keillor writes:

A daily paper is part of the heart of a city and without it what you have is an office park with some malls. The Newhouse family is making a mistake, but a great American city suffers. Instead of gutting the T-P they should make it a paper worthy of New Orleans.

I confirmed with someone at “Prairie Home Companion” that it was Keillor who signed the petition. I forgot to ask, however, if perhaps one way to save the paper would be to have the Catchup Advisory Board sponsor it.

Other notable signatories, according to petition organizer Rebecca Theim: Anne Rice, Garry Trudeau, Linda Ellerbee and Ed Asner.

Another very New Orleanian move: Local jeweler Mignon Faget (who has put fleurs-de-lis on more objects than all the Saints’ equipment managers combined) is selling a Times-Picayune stud pin. Proceeds go to a fund for laid-off Times-Picayune employees, Dash30Dash, a reference to the shorthand journalists used Tuesday to inform their friends and family that they had been laid off.

In Alabama, some folks are trying to find jobs for the 400 Advance employees facing unemployment. They’re listing jobs on a Google Doc, Twitter and Facebook. Most of the postings are for writing, editing, design and photography, according to David Griner, one of the organizers and a former journalist.

Another form of assistance has come in liquid form: Thursday night, Birmingham News alumni, along with journalists at a couple other papers, covered the bar tab at a local watering hole for News staffers.

In addition to the petition-signing and check-writing, this week’s layoffs have spurred some excellent satire. The New Orleans Levee announced:

As the digital world has evolved, so too will we, finally. Beginning in the fall, the newspaper that so many of you rely upon will start publishing on a reduced schedule of Jan. 15, Aug. 1, and Black Friday. Our marketing department tells us these are the easiest dates to sell ads on, which should indicate our priorities going forward pretty clearly.

In many ways, these three annual papers will be enhanced and more robust than each of your monthly newspapers is now. For example, since they will come out so long after anything important has actually happened, they should have a “timeless” quality.

Dirty Coast, another local institution (as far as creative T-shirts are concerned) is selling shirts emblazoned with “The Some-Times Picayune.” Another nice one, from Fleurty Girl: “Don’t let bylines be bygones.”

Related: Can somebody please tell Brett Anderson’s replacement he’s no longer laid off? (Poynter) | “The paper gutted its newsroom to grow its journalism? Isn’t that sort of like destroying the village to save it? (CJR) | Weekend reading: Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along (Harvard Business Review)

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  • Ronald McCrea

    They’re killing off the Times and leaving New Orleans with the picayune.