Times-Picayune editors: ‘The transition has been difficult for us’

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The first “expanded” edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune appeared Wednesday, and Nola Media Group Editor for Print Terry Baquet and Director of Metro Content Mark Lorando took questions online about the shift to a three-day-a-week print paper. The readers’ concerns were mostly civil in tone and logistical — will there be a paper the day after Saints games, where I can I find the puzzles, etc.?

Baquet and Lorando didn’t shy from questions about what one participant called the Times-Picayune’s “summer of carnage”:

Several of you have asked about morale in the newsroom. The transition has been difficult for us and our readers. But as evidenced by our coverage in today’s newspaper and all week at NOLA.com, our staff is proud to continue to do what we have been doing for 175 years: covering the hell out of our city.


Former Poynter Online Managing Editor Steve Myers asked about the mix of fresh and repurposed stories that will land in the printed paper:

I noticed that today’s paper includes news from the last couple of days. Some appear to be updated versions of what I saw on the Web (Cantrell) and others appear to be the same (like the firefighters pension story). Is this a good representation of what the paper will contain? How are you going to weigh breaking news from a day or two ago against enterprise that has a longer shelf life?

The reply:

You have hit the nail on the head. Our goal is to make sure that readers of the print edition do not miss any important news that occurs on the days that we do not publish a newspaper. The enterprise reporting that has been the hallmark of this newspaper for decades will continue to be priority in the future.

Several readers asked about the Baton Rouge Advocate’s push into the New Orleans market, where it will distribute a daily paper. “We are confident no one can cover New Orleans like we can,” Baquet and Lorando replied.

Louisiana State University’s Public Policy Research Lab released a report Tuesday that looked at sources of news for New Orleanians. Among the findings: “76% of New Orleans area residents say they’ll be turning to television for local news” and “40% of respondents say they’ll stick with The Times-Picayune for news, while 44% say they’ll go to Internet news sources (respondents could choose multiple sources for this question).” There was also this:

The percentage of users who read news about their local community online everyday is noticeably higher than the percentage of users who specifically read NOLA.com everyday; NOLA.com being the web presence of the Times Picayune. This suggests users are getting their local news online from a source other than [the] local newspaper itself.

Here’s the full report. For perspective, in June 2011, a Media Audit list ranked NOLA.com as second in the country for reaching 49.5 percent of adults in the New Orleans area.

In a slightly Southern Gothic coincidence, the LSU Public Policy Research Lab is housed in the Manship School of Mass Communication, which was named for the family of Baton Rouge Advocate publisher David Manship in 1985. (Thanks to Bill McHugh for pointing this out.)

Here’s Wednesday’s Times-Picayune front page, courtesy the Newseum:

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  • http://wadeonbirmingham.com/ Wade Kwon

    I challenge the use of Media Audit’s data. I talked with Media Audit president Bob Jordan by phone, and when asked what the margin of error was on the survey, he said it was too complicated to determine, citing thousands of pieces of data to analyze.

    If only some computing machine could do the hard mathematical work, maybe in a sheet that shows a spread of numbers …

    Advance likes to trot out that flimsy survey, but that doesn’t mean other news outlets must also.

  • TPWatcher

    > In a slightly Southern Gothic coincidence…

    Quoting the LSU survey, “the Manship School at LSU decided to fund the research” and “Interviews were conducted from 7-31-12 to 8-26-12.” The Baton Rouge Advocate officially announced its re-entry into the New Orleans market in a P.R. letter dated 9/7/12 and signed by David Manship. Hmmm…